Pamela Loxley Drake remembers the different houses in which her primary school friends lived.

COURTESY PHOTO - Pamela Loxley DrakeOur friendship began in the first grade. Giggling little girls. Four best friends.

We all lived in different types of farmhouses. One who went to my church lived in a rental house. Another lived in a small house. We all envied all she got as an only child.

I lived in a big house back the lane on Neff Road. Another friend lived just nearby with her widowed mother.

Best friends. Little girls who saw no difference.

We were all about 8 when the final one of our quartet had a birthday party. Her family of five had little. They lived behind her grandma's house in a renovated chicken coop. It was a coop on the outside but full of love on the inside. From this child's view, it was fantastic.

Outside of the coop were cages holding "wild" pets that her father had tamed. She was such a lucky girl to have a raccoon, a fox and a skunk as pets.

Little girls dropped clothespins into a glass bottle (well, we tried), they pinned the tail on the donkey (ditto), and finally, we had presents and cake.

Parents did not point out different family statuses. They did not degrade anyone living on less. We were all embraced by our parents the same no matter whose house we were in at the time.

After many years, I wondered why the family did not live in the house with the grandma. I wondered why we didn't notice a family lacking what all the rest of us embraced daily. As kids we only saw a happy, loving family. A very lucky family. Heck, they had a skunk, a raccoon and a fox.

Blind is the eye full of prejudice and judgement. Beautiful is the eye of the child raised in a home blind to all the above.

In retrospect, I envied her more than I did that girl with everything. Her family was loving and kind. Laughter rang throughout the coop daily for them.

My parents dropped me off at this unusual house without hesitation. Today we would be apprehensive, but that was the way of Neff Road. It was the way of those who toiled and struggled hoping that they would have food and money for the next year.

I haven't dropped a clothespin into a milk bottle since then. Oh, wait, there are no more milk bottles with that little cardboard tab on top.

I never met anyone else who lived in a chicken coop. I still don't have a skunk, fox or raccoon, although my grandchildren would love it.

Time passed, and those little girls went their separate ways. To this day, I still remember a party in a chicken coop.

Pamela Loxley Drake is a Beaverton resident and self-described lifelong "farm girl."

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