I had to miss Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary weekend celebration because I was pregnant with Craig and weeks away from delivering, but the other siblings went to Utah to be with the folks. Bobbe, in particular, made it special by compiling a couple of binders full of mementos. Scott later told me one of the binders included a letter I wrote to Santa when I was only four years old.
Only four? Really?
I can’t remember learning to read or write; those were just things I seemed to always know how to do. But obviously someone somewhere along the line taught me my ABCs. And it turns out the “someones” were my sisters Claralyn and Kaye who got some help from Margaret McDonald, our next-door neighbor their age. And the “somewhere” was the McDonalds’ basement. According to Mom, those three girls spent hours “playing preschool” with me. I guess they were excellent teachers and I was a pretty good student if I could compose, read, and write a letter to Santa by the time I was four.
In many ways, schooling was simply a way of life in Tanner Manor. I didn’t have much formal training in anything because our family didn’t have extra money for lessons and tutors and teams, but I did have parents and plenty of older siblings who seized upon teaching opportunities. Consequently, I relished learning. So, preschool would have been an unnecessary expense. Besides, much of preschool consists of playing outside, learning to hold a pencil, taking turns, and following instructions, and I got plenty of all that—and more—in Tanner Manor.
I believe Bryan was the only Tanner child who went to preschool. When I started kindergarten, he and I still had half a day at home to play together, but when I went off to first grade, he was alone all day long with no playmates. Mom felt really sorry for him. She couldn’t bear one of her children being lonely in Tanner Manor. So, in spite of the cost, she signed up Bryan to ride tricycles, fingerpaint, and make new friends at a local preschool—the antidote to loneliness. He needed preschool.
I'm the twelfth of 13 children. I was born into a poor family rich in blessings. We lived in South Pasadena, California on top of a hill in a big house we called Tanner Manor. These are my stories of growing up there.