Monday, February 13, 2017

Down Home (w/pic)

Click image to enlarge.

This photo is of the house where my paternal grandparents lived the last three-plus decades of their lives. It was taken just a little before my time, as I don’t remember the bee hives at the right edge of the photo (property of a neighbor), while I DO remember a small coal/wood shed at the back corner of the house that isn’t in this picture, as well as a small deck that replaced the front porch that’s missing in this image. If I were to guess a date, I’d say between 1950 and 1958.

This house sat on the same farm where I was raised, except down in the valley (across from present-day Mustang Acres) whereas I grew up in a similar-looking farmhouse less than a quarter-mile away on the hill above this house. Dad was born in and lived in the house on the hill the first four years of his life, until the family moved to this house, because it had running water. He lived there until about a year after he and Mom were married, when the two of them moved to the house on the hill. Dad lived there until his untimely death 35 years later. He always referred to the place where I was raised as “up home,” and this place as “down home.”

The house was built in 1883 by a farmer named Bailey. My granddad bought the place somewhere between 1910 and 1919. (He bought the farm in three pieces and I don’t remember the order.) The family moved there in 1929. Before that, my great grandparents, either together or singly, lived there sometimes, as did one of his brothers and various friends and in-laws.

The brown (unpainted) building you see to the right of the house was built at some point, in part, to hold a store in the front room of the ground level. The milk house was in the downstairs and my great grandfather lived in the upstairs until he passed away in 1927.

My great grandmother, who was anything but charming to the gentle old man, lived in the wash house which you see in the center of the photo. She often visited her other kids for months at a time, though, so the family was always glad to see her come and glad to see her go. The shed that you see blocking the view of the wash house was simply a shed over the gas meter, but appears large enough that it may have been used some for tool, or wood and coal storage. It had been replaced by a much smaller shed by the time I came along. 

The family cellar was beneath the wash house and the well was just in front of the wash house. The running water in the house and milk house came from a spring and cistern farther up the hill, though.
The back corner of the house that you see was a sun porch, which was originally just a back porch, but which Granddad enclosed to get a little extra indoor space for his brood. He put a gas heater in it and they used it even in winter.

If you look closely, you’ll see a truck in the driveway between the meter shed and the wash house. I believe that was Dad’s 1950 GMC. The barn is just out of view to the right of the photo. This photo shows the old place mostly as I remember it, but not completely. I have a lot of good memories from the old place. © 2017


Sunnybrook Farm said...

Neat old photo that you are lucky to have, a lot of the time people didn't take photos of the buildings, just people. It is fun to study an old photo like that, a piece of time frozen and shows many clues to daily life back then.

Caddie said...

Very good Mr. grouse. I really enjoyed reading. Brought back many memories of my earlier years. Nostalgia for the past ways of life and the people who filled our personal world.

Lady Locust said...

Is it still occupied? I love how the old places were built and arranged with purpose.

Gorges Smythe said...

You're right, SF, I often spend more time looking at the background in "people" photos than I do the people.

Thanks, Caddie.

No, LL; one of my dad's sisters inherited the place by promising to "take good care of it." Two years after she got it, she "took care of it" with a bull-dozer, a can of gasoline and a match. It was still plumb, level and well-roofed, too.