Cuckoo Clocks and Cicadas

Memories of my Grandparents’ House

Bob Jarman family including foster son, Billy Brown (plus 2 visiting friends)

Until I was about 12 years old, my mother’s parents lived in Phoenix, Arizona. In fact they lived in a small house at 3612 E. Palm Lane where they lived for over three decades. It was probably less than 800 square feet, but I have big memories of the place.

We would go to visit on a regular basis, although to a young child it seemed like they lived in another state. It probably took 45 minutes to an hour to make the trip from our house in Mesa to Grandma and Grandpa Jarman’s house.

I have a few distinct memories of that house. Memories are precious things that will be lost if not shared. So I am sharing some of those memories today.

The Yard, aka the Proving Grounds

The yard was not exactly “kid-friendly.” There was very little grass, no swingset, no sandbox, or the other types of things you might expect young children to play with. This is what made it so great!


First, there was a large tree in the front yard that seemed to have alien life forms on it. In reality they were the molted exoskeletons of cicadas. However, we didn’t get them in the east valley where we lived. It was years later before I even knew what they were. As a 7-year-old boy they were like gold. When we played hide-and-seek this tree was sometimes our base, and I would inspect the translucent shells while I counted.

The Hole

For years there was a hole in the backyard. Not the kind I would dig in my own yard with my Mom’s spoons. It was an enormous hole. Like 20 feet across and 5 feet deep. You could drive a tank into this hole. I often imagined it was a crater created from an exploded bomb. The fact that my grandpa had served in the army in World War II and didn’t speak of his experiences probably added to my active imagination. My brother and I used to play in the hole, although I think we were told not to. It was deep enough – and the sides were steep enough – that it was not easy to get out of. I recently asked my Mom and Uncle what the hole was for, but they weren’t really sure. They think Grandpa was planning some kind of expansion to the house.


Behind the house was an alley that separated their house from Papago Elementary School. In the back corner of the yard was a concrete slab, with a storage shed and a homemade barbecue grill made from half an oil barrel. This area felt sheltered and secluded so it often served as HQ when we played army, or “base” when we played hide-and-seek. Shelves lined the fence on one side of the house filled with canvas tents and cots. Grandpa probably used these for Boy Scouts, but they helped us imagine we were on an army base or proving grounds practicing maneuvers.

Inside, aka the Art Gallery

Example of a cuckoo clock

The living room was small and filled with wonderful things. For example, I remember a cuckoo clock on the wall. My grandparents are the only people I ever knew that owned a cuckoo clock. I remember eagerly watching for the bird to come out every hour and call the time.

I recently asked my mom and her siblings about the cuckoo clock. Turns out it was a gift from my Uncle Doug to his parents. It was an original handcrafted cuckoo clock from the Black Forest region of Germany. Cuckoo Clocks have been a tradition in this region for over 300 years. He had purchased it while serving an LDS mission. I have asked my relatives and I guess it didn’t survive the move to Gilbert in 1986. I am hoping someone can find an actual photograph, however.

Examples of macrame plant hangers

My Grandma Jarman owned a craft store and displayed many of her own creations in her home. Oil paintings hung on the walls and potted plants hung from the ceiling in homemade macrame plant hangers.

Also, in the living room were photos of my grandpa on scout outings. My favorite was him in his uniform bending over the campfire cooking bacon.

I loved reminiscing about my early childhood memories of this home. I also enjoyed the opportunity it gave me to ask my family members of their own memories.

What memories do you have of a grandparent’s home?

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