In my earliest memories, we lived in a house in Des Moines. It was a dark stucco house with a garage to one side. I do not remember anything about the inside. Only the outside. My mom and my dad lived there too. So must have my sister, but I don’t remember that either. It was on 40th or maybe 41st street, and its not there anymore. The Eisenhower freeway system is there instead.
Des Moines had electric buses that ran down the center of the street, with a bunch of ugly metal on top that went up and sparked on some wires above. My mom took me on the bus downtown. We went to Younker’s Department store so that she could buy new hose. They were folded up for her in a flat white box. It seemed very important and dignified to buy new hose there.
I liked to ride my tricycle on the sidewalk out by the street. The house was on a hill, so the driveway was steep. Therefore, I had to ride on the sidewalk because it was the nearest flat place. Once I got my big toe caught in the spokes of the front wheel. I had that scar on my toe for many years. It is gone now.
The streets in Des Moines were lined with large elm trees. Lush and green, and full of cicadas, which my mom called locusts. The elm trees got a disease, called Dutch Elm Disease. Sometimes in the evening I was told to run out and pick up my toys from the yard, and to bring in my tricycle. Soon after, a big truck with a noisy white apparatus on the back would roll slowly around the corner. A man would be standing on the back, and another man would be driving. They would roll down our block, and then on to the next block. The man on the back would point the noisy machine at the elm trees and a white greasy fog would come out and float up through even the highest branches of the elm trees.
Other times in the summer, always on a clear morning, a noisy, shiny, silver airplane would fly low back and forth around our part of town. A very fine, shiny mist would float down from the airplane. I didn’t have to bring in my toys, or to go inside myself, when that happened. I don’t think that had to do with Dutch Elm Disease.
There are no more elm trees in Des Moines. They all died from Dutch Elm Disease.
Every time I go to Des Moines, I get a mosquito bite.