Whenever we visited, we sat on her scratchy, pewter couch, feet dangling, trying to survive the 85 degree living room temperatures. She always served us ginger ale in big thick glasses and pound cake sliced real thick and when she would open up the presents we brought, she would meticulously peel the gift wrap away, expressing her mission “not to booger it up.” After a very long half hour, we were released to go explore the farm. My sister and I were given the task of tracking our younger brother. We were forbidden to go near the mill, but were usually invited by Aunt Mildred, who ran a chain of laundromats in town, to gently use her creaky porch swing, AND, if we were extra good, my great Uncle Dick would invite us to play on his fleet of school buses. We always went to the back seat and pretended we were goin’ to Disney. Maw lived to be more than 100 years old. It’s been over a decade since she’s been gone, but I couldn’t resist going back to the farm when I heard it was on the market.
Carl and I had a vision of making this our big homestead reclamation project. But, alas, my memory tricked me. Way too much work, even for three guys looking for a renovation challenge.
This is Aunt Mildred’s kitchen in the back of the house . . . . pretty much just like I remember it.
This front room was Maw’s whole life. She didn’t leave her home for the last twenty years of her life. She had her kitchen, eating table, couch and Bible reading chair all in this room . . . and climbed those STEEP steps to her bedroom every night.
This is my great-grandfather, Joseph H. Weller’s, mill. It’s where my grandma Ruby grew up, where my Dad played as a young boy when he wasn’t picking peas for the Shilling Bros. cannery, and where we were forbidden to play. At one time the water ran fast and furious through this wheel . . . not so these days, so Lily and Dan could safely explore.
Lily was dumbfounded when we told her about this “out building.” Completely incredulous and totally mortified.
It was an adventure to paint the scenario of living on one of my family’s farms . . . but it was one of those dreams that actually flew out the window before we even got in the car to leave.