June 10th, 2007
Today as we were getting ready to head out, Terah said to me, “There are people on our yard with cameras and I don’t know who they are!”
I looked out and they looked friendly, so I went on out and said hi.
I’m glad I did, too, because these weren’t just any random people with cameras. The group included Ed, who grew up in what is now our house. He’s probably in his 70s or 80s now. His wife, son, and daughter-in-law were along, too. They had all driven up from Oklahoma and wanted to see the old farm. Ed’s family had sold it to my grandparents back in the 40s.
They apologized for tresspassing. I told them, “I don’t mind as long as you share a few stories.”
Ed told us that he remembered the second story and kitchen being added on to the house when he was about 10, shortly after it was moved to its present location. He remembered his dad building the elevator that still stands on our property. It is quite the marvel of engineering and craftsmanship. I learned that its first power source was an engine from a Model T.
Ed kept looking at the house smiling. A few years ago, maybe 2 or 3, he got to see the place for the first time in 40 years. But it wasn’t doing so well then already. He said we had done a wonderful job restoring it. He remembered, back before there was a sidewalk, sitting on the porch letting his feet dangle in the mud. Or sitting out there Sunday evenings making ice cream.
I invited them to take a quick look inside. They politely declined, not wanting to impose. Terah and I assured them that it would be fine, though we did need to leave in a few minutes. They came inside and Ed started describing the place to his family.
He pointed to the oak floor in the living room. “Is that original?” I told him, “Yes, it is; we added on about 2 feet to it but the rest of it is original.” He said that he helped lay that floor. I asked him something I had been wondering for awhile: did they put the oak floor on top of a pine floor? He smiled and said, “Yes, we sure did!”
We came to the office. He asked if the wood ceilings were original. Yes, I told him they are. He confirmed what I had heard about the reason for a burned spot on the office floor: that someone had opened a wood stove and a live log fell out. He also asked if we had taken out the chimney. Yes, we did, but we saved the bricks. “Ah! We had a chimney fire in there one time! We all thought the whole house might burn down.” I told him that the bricks still were marked from that.
He told me of one time he was standing on the north side of the house, idly throwing stones at it. His sister was playing piano at a window, in what is now the office. One of Ed’s stones went through the window and hit her (but didn’t hurt her seriously). “Boy did I ever hear about breaking that window!” One of his relatives asked, “What about hitting your sister?” “Well, that wasn’t as bad as the window.”
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. It’s really neat to hear stories about the place and learn about its life before it came to be in my family.
I was glad I went out and said hi to our visitors instead of ignoring them or chasing them off.
Good things can come from strangers sometimes. I think I’m going to gather up a batch of photos and send them to Ed and his family, along with a few questions for them!