The old homestead to me is my grandparent’s house. I lived in three different houses between 1 and 18 years old. But my grandparents stayed in their house. We never lived far from them and it was my second home. Anytime I felt like it, I could walk or ride my bike to Grandma’s. They didn’t have a big house, and they didn’t change things very often. It was typical two bedroom one bath bungalow. It was always there from the time I can remember until I was in my 40’s when it was sold because Grandma and Grandpa were gone. Sometimes I wish it would have stayed in the family. But I have wonderful memories of the house and their big yard. Grandpa and Grandma both liked to garden. They had flower beds all around the back yard and house. Plus they had a large vegetable garden and grape barber. There was an old chicken coop in back that Grandpa kept his garden tools in. I always worried that something would come running out of it. Next to the chicken coop was a compost pile. We didn’t dare throw coffee grounds, potato peels, or egg shells in the garbage, they and other scraps went in the compost pile. The Great Western railroad tracks that ran behind her house, and they only ran freight trains. My brother loved trains, and he could hear one coming before anyone else. He would run out there to watch it go by and wave to the engineer. He would be standing there and nothing would come. We thought he was mistaken, but sure enough shortly one would come. Grandma made friends with all kinds of creatures such as; the squirrels, possums, raccoons, and even snakes, and fed them all. They had some fruit trees and Grandma would make jelly from the fruit. She made the best cherry, crabapple, and grape jelly.
In front there were five or six stairs that led up to a screened front porch. The porch had a swing, cot, and rocking chair. Grandpa would sit on swing and Grandma in the rocking chair. The rest of us either sat next to Grandpa on the swing or on the cot. Many a hot summer nights were spent on the porch. No cell phones, no computer, no TV, just conversation. We never ran out of things to say and never tired of hearing Grandma and Grandpa’s stories. I do wish I paid more attention back then, it would make searching for ancestors easier. Although, I’m sure some of the stories were exaggerated.
To the left on the porch was the door that led to the living room. There were three windows together that faced the front of the house. Grandpa’s chair was in the corner next to the windows. They had a table in front of the windows filled with plants and some plants on the floor. There was a sofa along one wall and chair on the opposite wall in the corner. Next to that chair was some shelves and the TV set.
There was an Archway that led to the dining room. Grandma had a big table and buffet. In one corner was a secretary desk with rounded glass cabinet. There was a big heavy swinging door that led to kitchen, and most of the time the door was left open. Next to the door way to the kitchen was a little desk which the telephone was on. Along one wall there were two windows looking out to the side yard. On the opposite wall was her buffet and next to the buffet was a doorway to the hall which led to the bedrooms and bathroom.
The front bedroom had a double bed, dresser, and a cedar chest. It had two windows to the front which looked out to the front porch. When I was a kid, I liked to climb through them to the porch. In the back bedroom were a chest of drawers, a double bed, and Grandma’s treadle sewing machine. The kitchen had a sink on one wall, a table in front of the window. The opposite wall had a cabinet and stove. The pantry door was next to the stove. Her pantry was filled with everything. Dishes, pots, pans, food, and a dresser full of recipes that she had cut out of newspapers and magazines. On the back wall was window and a door to the basement and outside. When you walked out the door there was a landing and straight ahead was the refrigerator. A turn to the right was five or six stairs down to the back door. If you turned around there were five or six more stairs to the basement. This house had a coal furnace and they had a room near the furnace that held the coal. Grandpa would make sure the fire was going before he left for work and again when he came home and before he went to bed. If it was really cold, Grandma had to feed it some coal during the day. They finally got a gas furnace in the 1970’s, and that was only because they were forced to. Coal had become hard to get and expensive because by this time no one had coal furnaces anymore. In the basement grandma had another stove which she used on holidays and really hot days. Her washer and dryer were down there too. She didn’t always have a dryer and hung clothes outside or in the basement when it rained or was too cold to hang clothes outside. She had a small room the size of a large walk in closet that she referred to as the fruit cellar. In there she had all the things that she canned, plus canned goods she bought at the grocery store. She had it very organized too, so when she sent me down for a can of beans, they were easy to find.
Of course, I remember holidays and other family gatherings at her house. I remember walking in on Thanksgiving and smelling the turkey cooking. She was a great cook so I always enjoyed meals there. I remember the conversations and the laughter at our family gatherings. It was a cozy house and grandma and grandpa always made us feel welcome. I enjoyed this trip back in time to their home and hope you did too.
The old homestead was the topic for 52 ancestors in 52 weeks last week. I’m a little late in posting it due to the Easter holiday.
Copyright © 2017 Gail Grunst