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If These Walls Could Talk... 15 Washington Terrace - Ladue News: Design

If These Walls Could Talk... 15 Washington Terrace

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Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011 10:22 am | Updated: 10:40 am, Thu Oct 27, 2011.

My name is Mary Marjorie Putney Fast, the fifth child of Elmore and Lela Putney. No. 15 Washington Terrace became my home when I was born on my mother’s birthday, March 2, 1943. We moved when I was 9 years old to 19 Huntleigh Downs, but here are a few of my memories of that gracious home:

◆ The ‘Lantern Lighter’ coming down the street lighting the gas lamps that glowed and flickered so beautifully until morning. I was never up to watch him cut off the gas light.

◆ On the same note, Sam, the night watchman, would stroll down the street with his nightwatchman stick, hitting the pavement so you knew he was there. Mom and Dad sometimes would invite him into the kitchen. I’m sorry I never knew his last name.

◆ The gatehouse: I never did know who lived within its walls, but I felt safe after passing by its threshold.

◆ I was christened in the living room in front of the fireplace by Rev. Stit.

◆ The parties that Mom and Dad gave with many Ralston Purina friends, who loved to have a good time. Mr. Meade Summers would usually arrive in a funny costume that made us all laugh.

◆ Some parties required the use of the ballroom on the third floor, in addition to the rest of the house. I am thinking of a University of Missouri Sigma Chi party that was given by my brother, Elmore Jr. There were a good many stories afterward!

◆ Playing tag in the formal dining room with each of us trying to step on the buzzer as we ran around the table where my mother sat. The buzzer would ring into the kitchen to get the servers’ attention. Mother was not at all pleased with the noise.

◆ The Easter morning fire in our garage when one of the cars caught on fire. The fire truck arrived and put it out, and we were all at Westminster Presbyterian Church in time for the Easter service—thanks to Mother!

◆ The bells rang beautifully from Westminster each day, chiming the hour.

◆ Marie’s picture on the evening of the Veiled Prophet Ball with the photographer bringing in all his lighting equipment to capture my beautiful sister in just the perfect pose. Later, we got to watch her on TV as she made her graceful bow at the Ball.

◆ Christmas was always wonderful! Our tree had lights with a tube of liquid that would form small bubbles that gently floated up when the lights got warm. I loved watching them! On Christmas Eve at bedtime, Mother would play all the traditional carols on her Steinway grand piano in the living room with her gorgeous voice filling the house.

◆ The Christmas when my mother surprised my father with a very special gift, a record of her singing Bless This House. We have since had it copied onto a CD.

◆ The night my dad surprised my mom with a new car. He asked all of us to go with Mom and him out to the garage. He joked around, saying he had gotten some new rabbits for my mom. He opened the door, and there was a new white Cadillac instead!

◆ Mom and Dad gave us one of the first TVs to arrive in St. Louis. I think it was Christmas of 1949. Mom had it wrapped in white paper with a big red bow.

◆ Uncle Herb (Putney) passed away in my father’s study on the first floor. He was a gentle soul and also wrote beautiful poetry, one of them especially for Charles and me.

◆ We all loved Saturday night wrestling along with the bowls of popcorn we ate while the matches went on. Gorgeous George, I’ll never forget him!

◆ Cleaning was very difficult in those days. Mother had to rub the walls with a strange pink clay-like material that came in a can. It smelled funny, but I loved playing with it.

◆ Mother had a washer with a ringer. She had to hang the laundry to dry, either outside or in the basement if the weather was bad. She also burned trash in the incinerator, and burned leaves in the fall. They were very strong women in those days!

◆ Sitting on the potty in my sister’s bedroom watching her put on her makeup while she got ready for her dates. Marie always looked very glamorous!

◆ The story about my brother, Charles, who must have been about 6 or 7, getting out on the ledge of the window on the second floor of his bedroom with his feet dangling over the edge. The mailman anxiously rang the doorbell and alerted Mother, who went up and snatched him safely off his perch.

◆ Roller skating in the basement. Roller skates were my favorite gift to ask Mother and Father for when they came home from a trip. I loved adjusting the length and then clamping them onto my shoes. My roller skate key usually hung from my neck on a string (used to tighten them on). We had so much fun in that basement!

◆ Someone in the family found a baby squirrel that had fallen from its nest. Our family tried feeding it with an eyedropper to try and save its life. I do not remember how many days this went on, but somehow it got out of the box. We found him suffocated in some sheets lying on the steps to our basement. I got the blame! I really do not remember trying to free the poor animal.

◆ Charles and I used to make sardine and mustard sandwiches on saltines after school. We would take a picnic down the street with Charles on his two-wheel bike and me riding in the leaf cart that was tied on a with a rope. I was at his mercy when we rounded a turn but we did have so much fun.

◆ Mr. and Mrs. Collins lived across the street from us. I must have spent a lot of time visiting them because I gained the nickname of ‘Susie Collins.’ I always named my dolls Susie. I liked that name!

◆ My wonderful father passed away at our home on Oct. 2, 1951. He was VP of the Ralston Purina Company. I was wakened in the night to come say goodbye to him. The children were sleeping on the sleeping porch. It must have been a warm night; I know it was very sad.

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