The Matriarchs of Cindy Drive
By Janice Pollard
Photos courtesy of Janice Pollard
In 1959, two women who had separately helped to design their all-brick, ranch-style homes moved into them across the street from each other in what was then a brand-new subdivision in Twin Falls. Full of enthusiasm and expectation for their futures, these young women, who were fairly new to marriage and motherhood, emanated an aura of optimism and self-confidence as they set about achieving their dreams and desires. Neither of them worked outside of their houses and their days were mostly home-based. When one needed to run an errand, her children made themselves comfortable in the other house until their own mother returned. One of the ladies, Phyllis, made her home open to all the neighborhood children without reservation and many childhood memories were made there, thanks to her understanding of how important play is to growth. The other woman was Laura, my mother. For us children who circulated around this pair, youth was idyllic.
After the two households were set up in the neighborhood, the offspring in their families increased from two each to a total of eight. On our side of the street, my younger brother David and I were joined by Matthew, and on their side, Mark and Lisa were followed by Wade, Sheila, and Stacy. It was the 1960s, when children had the liberty to pretend and dream through play, indoors and out. We girls made cookies, held tea parties, and played dress-up with old gowns, high-heeled shoes, and a “fur” stole, which was always everyone’s first choice and a cause of rare disagreements. The boys caught water snakes and polliwogs at the nearby canal, and marveled at how the latter could turn into frogs. Summers were unsurpassed, as we played safely day and night in the streets of the neighborhood at favorite games such as kick the can, hide and seek, and marbles. We rode skateboards and bicycles without safety helmets. Group sleepovers were held under the stars and many trips were taken to Blake’s Big T, the local swimming pool, to which we rode in a large wooden-paneled station wagon. We were dropped off, told to behave, to look out for each other, and to use the rotary phone in the office at the pool when we were ready to be picked up. We didn’t realize that we were being taught responsibility, because these lessons were subtle. Most days, our mothers were never far away and they were always willing to dry a tear, apply a Band-Aid, mediate a spat, or scold a guilty party if necessary. One of our biggest offenses was to use an adult’s first name rather than using the surname with Mrs. or Mr. A stern reminder would be given by Mrs. Gerber and it was not soon forgotten. To this day, I have trouble calling her Phyllis.