Martha has lived in her Brookford home since 1962. She and her husband Albert moved in with their 2 daughters when she was 9 months pregnant. Martha’s West Slope home was already sold and they were becoming desperate with the baby on the way.
When asked what she liked about the house when she first saw it, a wry smile crosses Martha’s face. “It was available,” she responds. They thought it was a very nice area, but there wasn’t much time to be picky. Her third daughter was born 3 weeks after they moved in.
At a time when many women stayed home with their children, Martha opted for a career as a legal secretary at a downtown Maritime and Transportation law firm. As a working parent she also did the housekeeping, cooking, and helped with the yard work.
Looking back at juggling home, family, and career, Martha quips, “I was born 40 years too early.”
“They used to tease me at the office and say, ‘You were born a women’s libber, Martha!’ And I said, ‘You bet.’ I thought I was as good if not better than any man I knew. Being raised with 3 brothers in Colorado, they were allowed to do so much more than I could, and I resented it.”
“They did use me as a gopher at times,” she remembers, and they ribbed her about being “one of the boys.” Still, she loved her work and has fond memories of her years at the law firm. Handling work for trial attorneys who were often stressed by their demanding cases, Martha recalls that she, “had to make lambs out of lions,” around the office to keep it all running smoothly.
Martha is 92 years old (“age is just a number,” she says), but there is nothing about her appearance or acuity that would lead one to believe it.
She still does her own housework and most of the gardening. Her home is lovingly tended, pristine and welcoming. Glass dishes filled with nuts and sweets are always waiting for grandkids or guests.
When they first moved in Martha felt at times like, “the walls were closing in on me.” Her West Slope home didn’t have enough rooms to accommodate their growing family, but it had larger rooms and higher ceilings than their Early-American style Brookford ranch. The long, lovely sofa that fit so perfectly in the West Slope house hung off the end of the wall in the more compact Brookford living room.
“When we moved here we were the very last house on the street. The front curb didn’t even go to the end of our property,” she recalls. Later, three more homes going up the hill, across from Martha’s place and running into Albert Kelly park.
Living at the end of the curving roads of Brookford could present it’s own challenges.
“We had cars come into our yard when they lost their brakes on the hill. One time the lady up the street left her little boy in the car and he pulled the brake and down it came. There was no way to stop it. We chased the car but there was nothing we could do. Luckily the car hit the curb and knocked our lamp post down. No one was hurt.
I had everyone come in afterwards for a drink,” Martha laughs, “they were all shook up!”
Martha’s husband and two of her daughters have passed away. But at Thanksgiving and Christmas the house overflows with 20 family members and guests--including 7 great-grandchildren. Kids sit on the living room floor and spill over into the garage, which is carpeted and feels like a family room.
Sheltered by large trees, the manicured backyard feels like a private park. It has always been a sanctuary. From the time the kids were young through the years when Martha and Al relaxed, entertained, or ate outdoors through the summer months, she has always relished the tranquility. Now, the great-grandkids are there to enjoy it during summer get-togethers, or they head up the street to Albert Kelly Park to play.
Neighborhoods change with time. Martha has watched a lot of families come and go over the years, though like her, some neighbors have stuck around. What she has really noticed is the constant remodeling of homes. The original Brookford ranches were 1,000-1,500 square feet, except for a few homes that had basements. As owners wanted more space for growing families over time, the changes have been continual.
One of Martha’s neighbors recently told her she was too independent. Her reply to him was, “thank you.”
Martha knows things worked out for the best when they quickly settled on their Brookford home in 1962. “I love my home and am thankful everyday I live here.”
D. Larson, Editor