To Boynton Page 1
Fast forward to 1940, probably about the time I got to stay for a period at their wisteria-enshrouded home, which was only about six blocks from home. The Boyntons allowed one of the Crook kids to stay at their house one at a time. To us, it was a mansion, with an attic, an upstairs, downstairs, and full basement. And more than one bathroom! We could be there for weeks.
Grandma's requirements were very few: we had to make all the beds each morning, had to set the table, clear off the table, and wash, dry and put away the dishes after each meal. No problem. We usually (I should speak only for myself) went back home when we'd clash with Grandma. In my case Grandma generally asked or demanded more of me than my selfish, stubborn little heart wanted to give. I sometimes marched home in a tiff. Then Carolyn or Janet (who already had their bags packed for the Park Drive Land of Enchantment) would draw straws.
How I loved nestling in the beautiful, comfortable living room Sunday afternoons, watching a brilliant red and orange fire crackling in the fireplace, everyone full from a delicious dinner. Dinners usually consisted of meat, potatoes, home-grown vegetables, bread, and dessert. Dishes done, I'd sit on the sofa and rub Grandma's feet until she snoozed deeply. If I tried to get up too soon, she'd open one eye, grin, and Judykins knew it wasn't time to get up. Later I'd move over to Grandpa's corner of the huge room and to sit rubbing Grandpa's feet. He and I listened to True Detective and other exciting radio programs. Grandma needed the rub because she'd worked hard all day; Grandpa had diabetes.
My grandparents were 100% human, and they knew how to press each other's buttons. If Grandpa Doc got ticked off about something, he might start cussing, even occasionally saying, "damn!" Then Grandma Sue would say, "Now Solon, what will the children think?" He didn't care. He knew we'd turn out to be okay in spite of occasionally hearing the "D" word. And we did. In time.
Grandpa, a family doctor, delivered all his own children and most or all of his grandchidren. After presiding at the delivery of his first great-grandchild (my son, Ron Simpson) in 1954, Grandpa Doc began winding down his practice from that time on. I wonder if that had any significance in his decision. Sure, I made a lot of noise, but after all, it wasn't a picnic. It was, however, a cause for celebration. Ron is something special.
One of my favorite activities as a teenager was to build a fire in the fireplace, go fry some bacon (Grandpa had only the best), open a bottle of Pepsi, and grab some of Grandma's molasses cookies. Sometimes I substituted smoked salmon for bacon (Grandpa had a smokehouse, and we used to have access to all the smoked salmon we wanted). I'd pile up the pillows and lean back, feeding my face, warming my toes, and feeling like a princess. I've always loved to read, and the Boyntons' home was filled with books. These solitary times, reading, snacking, and absorbing the warmth of the fireplace were among the some of the happiest in my life. Am I weird, or what?
Both Grandma Sue and Grandpa Doc were tireless workers in their chosen and designated areas of life . . . gardening . . . fishing . . . canning/preserving fruits and vegetables. Grandma was a late-blooming poet and a photographer, and often made delightful presentations to Bellingham civic groups. Grandpa was a committed fisherman, and had an awesome boat, Sea Legs, that he skillfully piloted through the San Juan Islands and the Straits of Georgia. That's his boat on the right. Those were the days! As a doctor, many times he went out in the middle of the night to help someone with a crisis. He often left the dinner table when patients telephoned. Generally, they had to be in pretty big trouble. While he was very compassionate, he didn't often let people take advantage of him. Well, not too often!
It's amazing that the Boyntons survived their four Crook grandchildren, but they seemed to thrive on us! They had many other beloved grandchildren (the Friedmanns, Nielsens, Crueas, and Boyntons), but we were the only ones in Bellingham, so we got the perks. Grandma was more into making sure our table manners and personal hygiene were correct. Grandpa wanted us to be knowledgeable, rather than naive, about life. They both gave us responsibilities and expected us to live up to them. They loved us unconditionally, or as close to unconditionally as was possible. Wonderful, wonderful people. As I segue from my "middle" years into my "golden" years, I understand them so much better than when I was younger.
How we miss them. And here is Grandpa's obituary from 1961:
BOYNTON, Dr. Solon Richard Sr., age 81, of 2120 Lummi Island Shore Rd., passed away in a local hospital, Tuesday, July 4, (1961). Dr. Boynton was a graduate of the Boston University School of Medicine, and came to Bellingham immediately upon graduation to open his first office in the Roth block. A few years later he moved into what is now the Bellingham National Bank Building where he practiced for 40 years. Dr. and Mrs. Boynton built their new home at Portage in 1953 where he continued his practice. During his residence in Bellingham he was very active in church affairs, having served as president of the board of the Advent Christian Church. Dr. Boynton was a former chief of staff of St. Luke's General Hospital; was a member of the Board of Health from 1913 to 1923; was a member and past president of the Washington State Homeopathic Medical Association; was a member of the American Medical Association, the Washington State Medical Society from which he was the recipient of a 50-year pin at special ceremonies of that organization, and was a member of the Whatcom County Medical Society. Dr. Boynton's lodge affiliations include the Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Woodmen of the World and Maccabees. Surviving relatives are his widow, Susie N. at home; four daughters, Mrs. Ethel Crook of Bellingham, Mrs. Louis T. Nielson of Spokane, Mrs. Paul Friedmann of Altadena, Calif., and Mrs. Gerald Cruea of Bellevue, Wash.; one son, Dr. Solon R. Boynton Jr. of Bellingham; 17 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren; two brothers, Dr. George E. Boynton of Mount Vernon and Camano Island, Wash. and William Otis Boynton of Seattle, also many nieces and nephews. The remains rest at the Jones Funeral Home where services will be conducted by the Rev. Allan G. Wood, assisted by the Revs. Earl F. Crouse and Norvel Richardson, Friday, July 7, at 10:30 a. m. Final resting place Greenacres Memorial Park. By family request, memorials may be made to St. Luke's Hospital Building Fund.Read more about the Park Drive House and its history.
Copyright Judy Vorfeld.
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