Poppy’s Garden 1953

 When I was growing up we spent Saturdays at my mother’s parents house, along with my cousins Dee Dee and Barbara and later, Marilyn.  When the weather was good we spent it outside in the backyard. There was a vegetable garden, lots of flowers and space for anything we could think of.

In the summer of 1953 I turned 7 in August. Dee Dee turned 10 in September. Barbara had already turned 6 in January. Pearl was 4.5 until December.  Poppy was 64. He would retire in December of that year when he turned 65. The yard was surrounded on all sides by a wooden fence that made it feel like a world apart.  In the photographs I can see the big house across the alley and a factory on Warren but when I was playing in the yard I didn’t much notice those things.

In the collards – Pearl, Barbara, Kris with Poppy

Pearl and I are holding dolls and I have a purse I remember getting when we lived in Springfield, MA. A young lady who might have been the church secretary had a grown up purse just like it.  It was brown leather and had a golden metal clasp that turned to open and close. Looks like collards with the poison Poppy sprinkled to kill the cabbage worms. I think I see a little cabbage butterfly holding on to the underside one of the leaves.

"geni of the magic carpet"
Geni of the magic carpet go, go, go.

I am standing up at the table where Barbara and I are making something. Dee Dee is sitting on the arm of the swing. She was probably taking Pearl somewhere on the magic carpet (aka swing) the rider would have to say “Geni of the magic carpet, go, go, go!” and then Dee Dee would take you someplace magic.  She would tell you where it was when it was time for you to get out of the swing. Dee Dee was in charge of all the magic.  Each of our households had a little, invisible fairy that lived in the mud castle we built and rebuilt at the foot of the apple tree. Their’s was named Lucy and ours was Pinky. She also kept a box full of prizes that she gave out at appropriate times. I remember packages of soda crackers, prizes from cereal boxes and pieces of chewing gum.

"Pearl and Kris with saw horses"
With our horses.

Here Pearl and I are standing on the grassy part of the yard. The flowers are in full bloom behind us with the vegetables back behind them. We often made the saw horses into mounts. I see my purse over there on the grass to the left.

Greens in my Idlewild garden 15 yars ago.


I have participated in Sepia Saturday for so many years that it is hard for me to come up with new photos when the same sorts of prompts come around. This week I am recycling a post from 2012.

To see other Sepia Saturday offerings, click.
For more recent sepia CLICK this

46 thoughts on “Poppy’s Garden 1953

  1. I love the parts about magic and the invisible fairies. The collards picture made me think of babies growing in a cabbage patch (and Cabbage Patch Kids dolls).

    1. I forgot to mention that after Dee Dee took us to whatever magic spot she decided on, she would be there to greet us as an inhabitant of the place. Maybe a friendly one, maybe a monster.

  2. What a fun sounding and magical game that must have been! These pictures are just lovely a what surely was a wonderful time growing up! Your purse is quite charming, even in the garden! Surprised your mother let you take it outside! Funny how all the little girls growing up back then had purses, and hats and even gloves especially when going to church! Nice collection you shared with us! Thanks!

    1. I do remember those gloves. That purse was about 3 years old by that time and looks like I took pretty good care of it. Probably not my best purse by that time.

  3. Once again you have taken us on your very own magic carpet ride! What wonderful pictures of fun in the garden. I do like the idea of being in charge of all the magic.

  4. Kristin,
    You seem to have had such a wonderful childhood and family life. You are so fortunate to have it so well-documented in pictures and documents!

    Thanks, as always, for sharing!


  5. It seems like everyone had a vegetable garden and fruit trees in their backyard. It made for great adventures in those days. Those times have passed.

  6. This backyard was made to have fun and you girls look so happy. Thank you for putting a smile on my face. I enjoyed the photographs.

  7. That was a magical carpet ride. What I love most about the garden is that it looks as if it was a relaxed and comfortable place for kids to play. It looks as if you were having a great time. I particularly love the picture of you and Pearl. So sweet.

  8. Kristen, this whole post is magical. I enjoyed your descriptions of the pictures almost as much as the pictures themselves. This is priceless, and thank you so much for sharing!

    Kathy M.

  9. What a fun story about having fun. Wouldn’t it be nice if kids now could create such imaginative times?

    1. There must be some out there who don’t have to rush from place to place who still do it. We had a lot of time to ourselves, with no direction or purpose but to stay outside perhaps. The adults spent most of their time doing adult stuff and we spent ours doing what we did. We didn’t have to go to aftercare when school was out, we didn’t have a lot of lessons – none on Saturdays. I do remember a few years of piano lessons and a few of ballet but most days, no. We could and did play outside a lot, walked to school and to the playground. Rode bikes. We didn’t watch a lot of TV and there were no “electronic devices” to hook up to.

  10. It’s great to see you and your family enjoying themselves so much; that’s what gardens are for and for the magical mystery trips. Those vegetables are huge.

  11. I’m planning to grow collards this year. I hope mine like as good as Poppy’s did. Your childhood memories remind me of some of my own — lots of games of pretend.

  12. What wonderful stories you tell. I love the ideas of magic and fairies. I love collard greens too. When I was young everyone had veggies and flowers in their yards. Well I do have so tomatoes in mine now.

  13. Thanx 4 sharing these great memories. I remember getting lost in my own world in the vast yard next door… but that’s also where I fractured my skull and broke an arm when I was 4. Too much magic can kill you!!

      1. Off the roof of a small shed. We had leaned a wooden plank against the roof to let ourselves slide down,
        but I fell off the plank and landed head first among debris of bricks and concrete, etc… I remember only the blood on my face. My broken arm was noticed only weeks later where the surgeon had to break it again [in 3 pieces] to fix it properly…
        It didn’t deter me as I kept climbing trees and over fences, but I never went back to the shed’s roof…

  14. How wonderful your memories. My kids and their cousins also spent summers with their grandma, and the bonds formed as they played under the loving gaze of their elders, in that world apart as you describe it, are to be cherished. I and my cousins did the same thing before them, spending weeks each summer with my grandparents in the country. Our closeness today was forged then. I see so much of my own extended family in yours.

  15. The beauty of recycling an old post is that most of us have forgotten it already and it reads brand new. I love Poppy’s garden – it invites the imagination. We didn’t have a magic swing, but we had a magic see-saw that required a ticket to ride (usually a leaf) to some far off place.

    1. This is very true. My old posts even read new to me! Love the magic see-saw requiring a leaf to ride. Magic happening in yards all over the world.

      1. Just figured out how to "follow" – Thanks Steph, for posting the link on your "Manifesto of Steph" Blog This particular Baby Card is so Fun! Love the design. Is it blank inside? Keep sharing, this one gives me hope for spring settling in for certain…

  16. Once upon a time when I was small and the only child at the time, our backyard had a lawn and flowers with an apricot tree, a plum tree, a hedge along one end, ivy climbing up the back of the house, & Jerusalem artichokes growing beside the path to the front yard. Then along came my brother and two sisters and the backyard went to seed. We still had the trees, hedge, ivy, and artichokes, but the grass and flowers turned to dirt. Funny thing about that is all the kids in the neighborhood came to play in our backyard – likely because everyone else’s back yards were full of well-kept lawns and flowerbeds not particularly kid- friendly. So . . . lucky us! We had tons of friends to play with and never had to worry about ruining anything. After we all got older, Dad built a wonderful covered patio, and we had a lovely lawn and flowers again.

    1. Maybe there was no grass because all those kids were running around on it everyday 😀 Sounds like a perfect yard.

  17. You paint such a lovely picture of your childhood and playing in Poppy’s garden! I use to weave stories about the flowers in our garden – my favourite were the tall, graceful lupins with their colours of pink, blue and purple. I would do a dance in front of them and curtesy to them – until my brother spotted me!!

    1. My sister and I used to pull most of the petals off of daises and black eyed susans when we stopped to eat on our car trips from Detroit to Idlewild. We would make them into people with pony tails. Poppy had lots of flowers in his yard but we didn’t pick them. He had Poppies and marigolds, which we called nannygolds because we thought Nanny should have a flower too.

  18. I enjoyed each of your photos and the memories that go with them. Most of all your memory of your purse. How thrilled you must have been to have one just like the church secretary—fun stuff.

  19. These are lovely photos! Thanks for reposting them. Sounds like your creativity goes way back to the imaginative days of childhood. Makeshift playthings like those horses and the magic carpet are so much more memorable than store bought toys. My favorite childhood purse was a red leather clutch that folded over its zipper, but yours with the handle and clasp looks even more impressive!

  20. I just sent a little leather purse of my Grandmother’s to a younger cousin so it wouldn’t end up in a thrift store. When she was almost 100 and in a nursing home she wrote her name across the front of it with a marking pen. She carried it around with her everywhere…the only thing in it was her rosary. Loved this post and a visit to your rich childhood imaginations.

  21. Excellent rerun! I’ve always thought gardens, especially vegetable gardens, were magical. You were lucky to catch the green thumb gene too.

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