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The house that I grew up in was the second house that I lived in. The first was ramshackle, possibly built by my great-grandfather when he homesteaded the property. My grandfather built a new house some distance away when my father was a child and the old house had stood empty for some time before my parents moved in. There were two usable rooms, a large kitchen and across the hall, a combination bedroom/living space with a big fireplace. The roof of the kitchen had split open at the peak of the roof that ran the length of the kitchen. When you looked up, you saw the sky, rain or shine. One strong memory I have is of the time it snowed and it fell on the kitchen table. Mother made snow ice cream. We did not often get snow, so that was a treat. There was a back room that my dad used for storing things that could be hung up, but my sister and I were not allowed in it since the floor was rotted.

We got a new house when I was about 3 or 4 years old, during the time my father was in the Navy in WWII. Lumber from the old house was put into service to build the new house with some new lumber that dressed up the front of the house. While the new house was being built, my mother, my sister and I lived with my uncle's family since both uncles were also in the military, one in the Navy, and one in the Army. But that meant a daily trek up to the home place to take care of the animals.

The new house had four rooms, kerosene lamps for light, wood stoves for cooking and heating. I remember doing my lessons by kerosene lamp light, but not long after I started school, we got electricity. It was courtesy of the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), and was for lights only at our house. We still had an ice box and wood stoves. I learned to cook on a wood stove. We had an outdoor toilet, of course.

Ice was delivered regularly from the ice house in town, 5 miles away. Each house had a card with 4 amounts on it, one at each end, on both sides. The card was placed on the outside of your house, with the amount of ice wanted at the top. If you weren't going to be home, there was a box where the ice could be left. I don't recall how the money was handled if you were not at home, but possibly the honor system.

Finally, we got a refrigerator!! My mother's two brothers and their families moved to California in 1948 and we inherited a Frigidaire refrigerator from one uncle. We had cows, but I never learned to milk them. We also inherited a hand-cranked 'separator' from my uncle. It was used to separate the milk from the cream which then went to town to the creamery to be sold.

We did not have a well or a pump, so we had two choices: We could walk up to my grandparents' house and use their pump or their cistern, or walk the other way, down to Cousin Noble's house, and use his pump. Either way we had to carry water. My sister and I were the water carriers. Everyone in the community had wash tubs and barrels set out to catch rainwater from their roofs and that was what we used for washing. Eventually we got a well drilled and an electric pump which pumped the water into a storage tank. There was a pipe that ran into the kitchen to a faucet. Oh, happy day!

Mother began working at a pants factory the year I turned seven, and we got a few perks, like an electric radio. My grandparents had a battery-operated radio in their house; we had none.

Our mail came by RFD, Rural Free Delivery. Our mailbox was the kind with the flag you put up if you had mail to go out. It was about a half-mile from our house, set along the highway which was a gravel road.

In 1952, the town folk decided it would be advantageous to bring an aluminum reduction plant to the county, with their perfect spot about where my grandparents’ house was located. That meant our community would need to move. People began to sell their property but my family did not. Eventually, the whole community moved to where a new community had been laid out, with streets, etc., about two miles away. Houses, the church, and the school, were placed on trucks and moved. My family, both maternal and paternal sides, refused to sell. But with the school and the church gone, with the whole community structure gone, my family eventually moved too, but kept our land. Before the move, all we could see from our house was trees and animals and our farm structures. And the local cemetery which was behind our house, between us and my grandparents’ house.

In this new location, "streets" were laid out, and we were now living right across the road from the church. According to Daddy, that meant any unmentionables must be off the clothesline before Sunday, dry or not! And we now had a couple of neighbors that we could look right out our windows and see! That was home until I graduated college and moved away in 1961. The house stood empty for several years, was eventually hit by a tornado, and finally torn down, with our permission, by the church folks who wanted to beautify the view from the church. [I have a picture of the house sitting on the moving truck, if only I could figure out how to post it....]

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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