From the Archives: Growing Up in Longbranch


By Aileen Alberta (Froehlich) Montgomery (1924-2004)

Fishing a lazy creek, swimming all afternoon with friends, sleeping on the beach at night or in a barn full of fresh mown hay. Sunday afternoon spent watching baseball at the old ballpark, whooping and rooting for our team. Riding my Old World bike I had purchased from Budge Dadisman for a $10 bill, feeling the wind in my face. Just laying there in a field of clover and watching the clouds roll by, dreaming dreams of all the great and wonderful things I would do in my life. Going to the movies in Gig Harbor or Port Orchard on a show card and 50 cents for a carload of family and friends. Playing pinochle, enjoying lunch and good conversation after the game was completed. Lying on the beach or out in the field counting the stars and trying to find the Big Dipper or some other one. Those were a few of the fun things we did and of course with fun came responsibilities. 

Our chores consisted of feeding and caring for the farm animals, helping harvest crops and putting hay in the barn. My brother and I had to hoe the gardens. If we finished by a certain time, we were allowed to go swimming or to a friend’s house for the rest of the privilege. I believe in many ways those rewards had so much more value than money because they were very special and always assured us of our parent’s love. 

I believe one of the best features of growing up in a small community like Longbranch was the deep love and friendship we had. I never had just one set of parents; everyone in the neighborhood was concerned for my safety and welfare. I was welcome and safe to visit anywhere, which gave me a wonderful feeling of security.

I asked my cousin, Marge Rickert Radonich, what she liked best about growing up in Longbranch. Her reply was that there was always some way to make money. She and I were quite the entrepreneurs. She would get the ideas while cleaning eggs and since I had a big mouth, I would execute the plan. We did everything from picking peaches, raspberries and other crops to selling magazines or Cloverine Salve. Our bikes or our feet were our main modes of transportation. 

Shirley Rickert Olson just laughed and replied her main interest in life was boys.

Helen Stolz Fravel and I were, and still are, special friends. She lived then, and still does, in the Taylor Bay area. She and I used to walk each other back and forth through the woods, talking of our dreams or our boyfriends. Ah, yes, those were the lazy, crazy days and I feel like a millionaire because I was so privileged to have grown up in Longbranch with my extended family. 

Editor’s note: This was on page 4 of the December 1996 edition of Key Peninsula News. As of this publishing, only Shirley Rickert Olson survives and all have numerous descendants. 

Born in a log cabin in Longbranch, Aileen was daughter to Albert and Helen Rickert. She served her last 10 years as a fulltime minister in Lakebay. As of this publishing, only Shirley Rickert Olson survives and all have numerous descendants.