THE OLD HOME PLACE
The holidays always bring thoughts of home. Not just the house that sits on the property that your parents owned but the memories that that old house contains. When I was a young adult, I remember my aunt and uncle selling my brother their home, having bought a beautiful new one. When my aunt went over to the house, she leaned against a wall in the dining room and broke down crying. It was a mystery to me, seeing as how she had a new house and I had not yet matured enough to realize that material things have the ghosts of the persons who inhabited a place.
I understand now. My house was on Old Trail Road. (It still is). When I think of home, memories from years gone by come flooding back. Not necessarily any monumental things, just small things. I remember being little and a toy box sat in a niche between the living room and the kitchen. All of our toys were in that toy box. It is into its 4th generation of kids digging through many of the same toys. I can picture Dad’s chair where he played his guitar, as we sat at his feet. I wonder if everyone had a father who had a certain chair? (Makes me think of Archie Bunker).
We had a huge plate glass window in the front that, as I think back, is a wonder no one ever fell through, given the level of activity our living room suffered. I see a banister and staircase that we all slid down. Nobody took the steps, except the adults. I wonder when I started walking instead of sliding down the banister?
In our kitchen, there was a corner that had been dubbed, “garbage corner.” Not that it had garbage sitting there, or smelled, but it had a can that Mom used to throw garbage in to be taken out. None of us would sit there, and for the life of me I can’t imagine how that got started, but I do remember the brother who got assigned “garbage corner.” RHIP (rank has its privileges) reigned in our family. I do know that I sat the farthest from garbage corner. The table was made out of a door. We had nine people in our family, so Dad utilized a door he made into a table to provide the space we needed to seat all of us.
Outside in the back, we had a fishpond, which never held any fish. That’s probably because it never held any water. It existed until after my dad had his first heart attack, and he laid into it with a sledgehammer. I think he had a lot of rage, and who wouldn’t…to have a heart attack at the age of 49. Anyway, it got filled in, and Mom planted flowers. We had a rose arbor, which, from as far back as I can remember, listed to one side. There was a time that roses actually grew on it, but that eventually faded away. We had a slope to the backyard, and at the first hint of snow we were out there with sleds, or anything that could be used as a sled, and had the time of our lives. I look at that slope today and realize that it isn’t nearly as big as I remember it. That same phenomenon was true of the chicken house. When we first moved there, there was a big chicken house, and the chickens would roost in their little stalls. I was so small I could fit in one so I guess I wasn’t too much bigger than a chicken. My eldest brother, Bill, and his friends, got a big rope and hung it from the rafters. A large knot was tied at the end and we would straddle that knot, get up on the rafters, and lift our feet. We would swing back and forth, having the time of our lives. The chicken house swing got a reputation at Waynedale School, and when we had lunch hour, a lot of kids would come to our house and swing on the rope swing. The elevator that Bill built was not as big a success, since something happened…I think the rope broke and my brother plunged to the concrete floor. He thought he had a broken back, but he’s still walking today so I guess he recovered. Not too long ago, I saw a picture of the chicken house in my mom’s pictures. I was disbelieving! It was not huge at all. In fact it looked more like a shed. In my child’s mind, it was huge.
My mother had a green thumb. She still does. I swear, you can take a beaten-up dried-up old plant without a hint of life over there, and the next time you go over the thing will be thriving and well. It is a mystery to me how some people have the gift of growing things, no matter what, and others will kill perfectly healthy plants off no matter what they do. I fall in the later category.
I’m sure I’ve told you before about the stickery bushes that attacked everyone of us kids. Most parents would dig the ugly thing up and spare the kids the misery, but my parents never did. What did happen is we became quite adept at avoiding the stickery bushes. I think there is a lesson to be learned here. And then there was the big tree out front. I think lightning struck it, because it split almost to the bottom. Instead of hiring someone to take it down, my dad put a bolt through it. I wish I had a picture of it. Our unique tree. I’m sure people came down our street just to look at it. My dad was a genius. Now this was no ordinary bolt. It was gigantic. It looked like something out of a science fiction comic book. But it held the tree together. The tree is gone now, but I would guess the tree gave out long before the bolt did.
Memories. They could go on forever. We had a great family life and the best place in the world to grow up. Waynedale provided everything a kid could ever want or hope for. I miss that life. Many times I have wanted to go back to live. But, as things have gone, it was never to be. I left at 19, without a backwards look. I wish I knew then what I know now. I know it has changed, and I can see the changes when I go back, but I’m telling you guys, Waynedale is still the best of the best!
Happy Holidays, Mae
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