Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Longevity Of A Rabbit

The rabbit, lame from rheumatism, leaves his bungalow following twists and turns on his way to Dr. Possum's house. This rabbit with the cane has taken generations of children on that trip through the hollow.

The Uncle Wiggily books were written in 1910 by Howard Garis. In 1916 Milton Bradley placed Uncle Wiggily on the game board. Children were given hours of fun playing a simple game that is still in homes today.

What to sell and what to keep. The Loxley girls sat in the room sorting another stack of items. Some would go to Oregon. Some to the east coast residing Maryland and Virginia. June would take some to Indiana. And Trevor's would go to Colorado or to Peg's waiting for him to retrieve at a later time. Memories would go home with us, or they would find their way into other homes, homes of those who loved the farm and their memories of Mom and Dad.

The Uncle Wiggily game board surfaced. It was Peg's turn to choose. Her son, Brad, had asked for the game. His memories were those of playing the game with his cousin Jobi and later with his brother and other cousins. All of them having memories from one of the few times they would all be together on the farm.

For some reason, my son James had a particular attachment to the game. Knowing this, his cousin surprised him with a new game. Uncle Wiggily moved off of Neff Road and into another generation.

"Grammy, can we play?" asked Gabby. With warm memories in my heart, I once more sit with Uncle Wiggily making my way to Dr. Possum's house. I will pass some different characters with this generation and updated game, yet some of the old will remain: Skillery-Scallery Alligator, Cluck Cluck Chicken House, Bow Wow Dog House, Skeezics who will send me back 3 spaces, Bushytail Squirrel Tree, Rabbit Hole where I move to space 65, Wibble Wobble Duck Pond, The Bad (nasty looking) Pipsisewah and the Fox Den. Dr. Possum will be holding his doctor's bag as usual. Maybe he will have something to ease Uncle Wiggily's aching legs. He will tip his glasses and watch the rabbit as he comes down the lane. And, once more a child's laughter will follow his journey. One that for our house began on a farm on Neff Road.

In 1947, the year I was born, the game costs $.67. Today it is priceless.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Things Not Seen

I was just 'sitting' around the other day and thought of some things that are no more, at least, you don't buy or use any more.

Toilet seat covers
Those little half rugs that fit around the toilet
Handmade toilet paper covers
Dutch doors
Cafe curtains
Drapes
Farm fences
Telephone poles
SenSen
Doilies
Saddle Shoes
White bucks
Console stereo
Console TV
Tape players
Records
Home phones (more and more obsolete)
Girdles
Slips
Books are even threatened

The list goes on and on. I can't imagine the list my parents would have created probably would start with the wringer washer, horse drawn buggies, cotton stockings and sooooo much more.

Times change. What we take as commonplace becomes a collectible or antique. What is part of our growing up is foreign to our children and grandchildren. It's a rich history we pass on. Rich in the struggles, the memories, the creativity of those living on the farm, of those days of our youth.

Maybe you have more things that you could add to the list. Perhaps a few memories have been awakened.

Wind up clocks
Dishpans
Babbo
Rabbit ears
Ivory Flakes......

Friday, August 27, 2010

Corner of Change

She stood in the corner, this quiet little girl. How she got there is a mystery to this grown woman. The fact that Mrs. Delaplaine would do such a cruel thing to such a shy girl seems out of place. Did the little girl put a mouse in her desk? Did she beat up an underclassman beneath the stairs next to the music room? Hm. Not likely since she was as underclass as a child could be. Perhaps she stood up on the bus causing the driver, Louie, to swerve off the road into the ditch on Neff Road. But that never happened. Maybe she was just a baaaad girl.

How I ever got into enough trouble in kindergarten to find my face looking at a corner while the entire class looked at my backside is a mystery to me. None of the Loxley girls were allowed to be bad. I'm sure I was terrified, especially since the principal had a thick, wooden paddle on the wall of his office for all of the children to see. I think I'm still reeling from the humiliation of it all.

I know this mystery will never be solved. My guess is that Vivian (who could never be quiet) was talking to me or distracting me, and I fell victim to her chatter. But things were different at Franklin Monroe. It was a different era, a country school.

Farm kids learned to work at an early age. Discipline was quick and well met with a warmed backside. Back talk was never an option. However, we did hear plenty of stories about the times Mom and Dad got into mischief when they were growing up.

As we grew up, changes took place. We were in the middle of the change. Women were trying to find their independence, teens were listening to new music and dressing accordingly. Parents and teachers were caught up in trying to hold on to the past pushing back the invading future.

In high school one of the boys was kicked out of school because of his long hair. It probably didn't help that he wore a leather jacket as well.

In Home Ec we were being taught how to pluck a chicken and fold our future husbands shirts. Something that I have never done since that class. The changing times were moving forward.

I'm pretty sure that kids are no longer stood in a corner humiliating the child. Now they miss recess or are sent to the office to have a time out. Discipline in the school is more focused on helping the child learn from their mistakes and changing their actions. Rulers over the knuckles, spanked bottoms are a thing of the past.

I don't remember much of what I was thinking of while standing in that corner. Perhaps I was just mortified. Or maybe I was hoping that the back of my dress looked nice. Heck, I don't even remember what I did....but I do remember that corner. Little did I know that this child stood in a corner of change.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Silliness on Neff Road

Silliness reigned on Neff Road. I'm not sure if it was the water or the fresh farm smell that pervaded the air. The water definitely tasted like silliness. Having free roam of the farm encouraged silliness. A cupboard full of dress up clothes and active imaginations caused even more silliness on Neff Road.

Maybe, just maybe, we lived in a silly family. One that worked hard and always tried to infuse laughter along with it. But probably it stemmed from a mom who loved to play and enjoy life. I can just close my eyes and hear mom's laugh and see her face. I'm not sure you were allowed to sit in our kitchen and not laugh. Maybe that is what drew people there time and time again.

My sisters will kill me for putting up this picture, but it is one of my favorites. I'm sure that Mom had some sort of silliness going when she dressed us up in old curtain sheers. She was not above putting on crazy clothes herself and playing with the children.

For a family who lived on the edge financially most of the time, we were never short on laughter. Perhaps this was one way to survive the struggles of living on a farm. Living a way of life that depended on nature and her grace, that depended on healthy livestock and good luck. Certainly it was better than popping a pill to survive the stress. Laughter, silliness, family.

There is a lot of silliness that goes on in my house in Beaverton. I think maybe I brought it along with me from Ohio. I am passing on the 'silly' heritage to my granddaughters. They are really pretty good at it.

Silliness.....welcome to Neff Road.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Scent of Neff Road

"Stop!" my son said. "Do you smell that?"

My daughter had come over to the house to help with the painting last night. The heat in the house was barely tolerable and paint fumes filled the air along with the smells of other work done on the house. There are few minutes any more when my children and I are alone. I'm not sure they realize how special these moments were as they carried on a constant conversation.

My children have not been back to Neff Road since the farm was sold. This morning my sister, Peg, and I were chuckling that our sons all own old houses and are working on them. No new homes for these Loxley grandsons.  Old walls dressed in fresh newness and rooms expanded to open up into a new generation. Wallpaper covered with paint, crooked walls taped and plastered, old hardwoods looking once more fresh and new, all parts of this love of old homes.

My son has often been disturbed that we didn't keep the farm. Perhaps we have all had those same feelings of missing the fields, barns and most of all, my parents. In some way, my son is once more recapturing a time and place he loved bringing his family to a place of new memories.

"Do you smell it?" he said.

"The farm! I smell the farm!" his sister exclaimed.

I stood there choked up not of the memory of a past scent from the farm back that lane. No, I was listening to my children thrilled to once more be catapulted back to Neff Road. These were my two children who will gladly pass on the past to the future.

Ah, sweet Neff Road.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Small Panes

My son with mask on face textured the walls of this new 'old' house. I stood on the other side of the French doors taking pictures. I am the official photographer of 'house in progress'.

I love French doors. Both of my grandparents had French doors in their homes. The Loxley's opened from the dining room into the living room. The Johnson's were between the living room and a small sitting room.....a room in which I never saw anyone sit.

As a child, I'm sure I equated French doors with either wealth or grandparents....or maybe both. My friends did not have French doors. We certainly didn't have them.

I wonder at the history of the doors. Were they for decoration? Were they to keep the noise away from one room to the next? Were they to keep children out or keep children in? Both grandparents had pianos in one of the rooms. Perhaps the door was closed to keep the music in one room, or the child playing the piano.

A few years ago, I was surprised to receive a special package from my Aunt Esther. I opened it to find a small piece of glass. When the beautiful Loxley house was torn down to make way for a new house, my aunt and uncle rescued window panes from the French doors. Lovingly, they thought of their nieces sending each a pane of glass. I don't know if my aunt and uncle realized what a dear gift this would be to this niece, this reminder of  house I adored. I don't know if they realize that this piece of my history is a reminder of the children who were raised in that house.

French doors. My son and his wife will wipe little finger prints from their French doors. They will sit in their living room by the fireplace with their French doors silently adding memories.

I love French doors. In some strange way, I think they loved me back.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Belling

Some terms my children and grandchildren will not understand. They are words of another generation, memories from the farm. History rich with the life and times of a family lies there waiting for the child to ask. Perhaps I am the child who is finally curious enough.

A childhood friend found me on Facebook a few weeks ago. We lost touch in our teens and haven't seen one another since, yet she was a big part of my growing up years. Mary Kay was a church friend. Her older siblings were the age of my sisters. As it happens on Neff Road, they were a part of our 'family'. A family of Painter Creek Church.

Yesterday I had my morning chat with my sisters....a precious time for this sister who lives on the left coast. I told my oldest sister that I had found my old friend. That's all it took to bring on the memories.

"I was just thinking about them," she said. Ah, another telepathic moment.

A conversation of "what was her name?" and "do you remember?" began drawing us back in time and closer to the ties to our past. Yes, this family had been a big part of our growing up. Peg's memories were different than mine since I am ten years her junior. Yet there were memories she related that tugged at mine.

"Do you remember when Ruth got married? Mom and Dad took us to the belling?" she asked.

Belling. Now there's a word we don't use any more.

"Everyone sneaked over to their house and banged pots and pans together. Can you  imagine just getting married and a bunch of people come over and bang pans?"

Somewhere in my cluttered mind, I found a memory. At that time, I was just a little girl, but vaguely, I remember standing in the dark with my parents when a group of silly adults began the noise making. The bride and groom greeted the dear friends with contagious laughter. I remembered it as if it were a dream.....a whisper of memory. Yet this little curly topped girl was there.

Belling. An old ritual now forgotten. A word not obsolete. A time that was innocent. A life that was hard but knew how to celebrate the simple things. A community that was called 'family'.

I guess that barn-raising is another one of those words. Maybe someday they will be considered organic and once more in style. I'm ready.

Friday, August 20, 2010

One Rung Closer to Home

Hanging over the closet rod with one leg on a shelf and the other foot tip toed on the top of the ladder, one step above the step marked "Do not stand on this step or above", I spread the tape across the shelf. The old house was a work in progress. I am not as young as I used to be. Boy, this used to be easier!

As I hung on that shelf taking in the smell of the old house, the feel of the old plastered wall, I remembered home.

James had pulled off the old baseboard. Beneath floral wallpaper echoed another time when this house was much newer. Flowers were in every room in our house....except for the walk-in closet. That room was dark red paisley. The floral outdoors came inside. I remember lying in my bed looking at the rows of blue and purple flowers that greeted me each morning.....the same wallpaper that was there when the house was sold.

"Mom, look at this design below the paint," my son said. I began to laugh.

"Honey, I think that is textured wallpaper that was popular in the 60's." Decades of paper, decades of history. Yes, this house was revealing its past in the layers buried beneath the paint on the bedroom wall.

I never liked new houses. No, I prefer those with a history. My son is discovering that it is more fun to give an old home new life than to build something new. He is discovering that old houses hold stories of the decades, the families gone by. He knows that he has a treasure, a home he is making for his new wife and his future children.

A new family is moving into this old home. A farm girls gets to once more savor the essence of this once old farm house.

Well, I did step above that ladder rung and did not break my neck. No, instead I journeyed back to Neff Road.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Moving in the Bible

Upon hearing the news that my son and daughter-in-law were moving into an new, 'old' house, my friend said, "You must move a Bible into the house first to bless the house.

I had never heard this before. I was told by my dad that if we hung a horseshoe upside down over the door of our home the house would be blessed with good luck. I noticed in the picture I posted of the blackboard in Mom's kitchen that my little horseshoe hung the wrong direction. Maybe that's why I got German measles when I was a kid.

The repair on the old house is going well. No new major problems have been discovered yet the work is sometimes overwhelming. We all love the house and know it is worth the effort. Lisa's parents and I work side by side with the kids making a nest which will hold these newlyweds and their children. A project that pulls a family together.

I decided to take my first little Bible to the house today. On the second page of the small, palm-sized Bible written in pencil "forget ful Pam". It isn't my printing since I was way too young to write. Evidently, I had a Bible forgetting problem. The third page is the presentation page. Presented to Pamela Sue Loxley by The Lavy Children 1951.

I don't know if this book will bring good luck to the little yellow house on Davis Road, but God close at hand has always worked for me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

No Little House, No Prairie

Laura Ingalls ran down the hill to the meadow meeting up with her two sisters. Pa watched over his little girls and Ma feed the chickens. I did not live in Little House On The Prairie.

No, it was much more like Old House On Neff Road. My Pa was an invisible pa. Dad drove a truck or worked on the farm from dawn to dark. We didn't have the family giggling around the dinner table. Dad listened to the radio. We didn't have guidance through our questions and rough times. We found our own way.

Mom and Dad did the best they could with what they knew. They both came from male dominated homes. Girls were raised to be silent and do their work. Boys worked with their dad's often absent from school because field work demanded them at home. There was no television to show them a different world. They didn't travel far from home and lived in the same neighborhood their entire lives. They parented from what they knew.

I hungered for more one on one with Mom and Dad. As I grew older, I wanted them to recognize the person I had become. Without that recognition, I became a rebel. The Rebel on Neff Road.

When I look at my life and my rearing, I realize that I had a rich growing up on the farm. However, three sisters left searching for something more than we had in that big white house back the lane. For all the pull the farm had for me, I knew that I could not go back to the loneliness I felt there. When we left one last time, we sold my parent, the farm. I was born of the rich black soil, the smell of the barn and an old house that hugged me.

No, Laura Ingalls would not have found the same family structure in our home. There was no prancing across a meadow or communication around the family table. But there was a similarity. A similarity of two sisters giggling in bed. Two sisters teasing one another. A story of three sisters cherishing what they now have in one another, three girls who lived on Neff Road.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Old Post

Telephone poles lined the road even running up our lane. I never really thought much about those wooden sentries even though I often watched the birds sit in orderly fashion observing the family on Neff Road.

Wooden poles were a part of the past just as were fences. I find that an old wire fence sagging against an aged wooden post draws out the artistic as well as sentimental side of me. I held on to those posts to climb over fences, tied my horse to them, held on to them watching animals in the field.

I don't know what has drawn me to these old wooden posts. Perhaps I'm just a bit sad at their passing. Road signs are seldom tacked to wooden poles (unless you are at a state park). You cannot tack a garage sale sign to the cold, hard metal post. I want my nature back!!!! I want the landscape to still be natural!!! I want to walk down Neff Road and see mailboxes on wooden posts!

Oh, well, I just need to work on it, I guess. You don't want me to get started on the disappearance of wooden barns.

There's a lot to be said for the good 'ol days. Makes me 'almost' wish for the simplicity of the sound of a horse clip clopping down the road and an oil lamp on the table.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Mead

It wasn't ours yet as a child, I was sure that some part of it belonged to us. Most times when we went to Ludington to visit Aunt Bess, my mom's sister, and Uncle Sam we stayed at The Mead. Yep, it was a place that recalls memories and good times.

I don't know the first time we stayed at the cabin. It sat down the road from my aunt's store where she sold bait, rented boats and cabins and gossiped with everyone who passed through the doors. The little cottage was probably nothing to brag about, but to a little farm girl, it was a castle.

The bathroom was questionable but better than our outhouse. The kitchen was meager but all of our meals were with Aunt Bess. It smelled a bit musty, but it was old and well-used. I remember a winter visit when snow covered the windows and hot summer days when we fished off the back dock on Lake Hamlin.

I still have sweet feelings for the cottage. I remember Dad and my ex-husband cleaning our daily catch next outside our little abode. It was a sight to see this man who hadn't fished learning from the master of fishing. I remember sleeping in the bed in the dark cabin thrilled that I was staying in a house somewhere other than my own room on Neff Road. I remember anticipating each day and savoring the excitement and adventure of fishing, looking forward to the laughter and memories shared by two sisters.

The Mead will always be the way I remember it in my mind. Not just as a little house, but as a place where a family on Neff Road actually went on vacation...something we didn't do often. A place where we knew we would find lots of laughter with a delightful aunt, swim and fish on the lake, boat to the dunes and do what families should do together. Yes, we were away from the work on the farm at a place we all loved.

The Mead. A home away from home, a place of retreat for a family from Neff Road.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

His Name Is Johnny Joe

My sisters and I often talk about all of the 'boys' my mom and dad raised. They always wanted boys and ended up with three girls. It was a fact that was told to us many times during our growing up years....even our adult years. Since they had not birthed boys, they seemed to draw them in from all over.

My cousins were my older 'brothers'. I don't really remember Jerry living with us but vaguely remember Dick. Maybe I remember him most because he gave me one of my favorite dolls. Of course, it was my first boy doll. Not sure how he got the name Johnny Joe. It's not written on him. Maybe Dick named him. The rubber body disintegrated but I still have his head....just can't get rid of him.

For years, these boys and men came to visit later bringing their families. Mom would fuss around the kitchen delighted that her 'boys' had come home.

My cousin, Gene, was like a brother and a son to my parents. The farm hands were Mom's boys. In old letters, I find that Mom's nephew Lyle was one of her 'boys' when she was just a young woman. A woman who needed a son.

We always said that Mom liked her son-in-laws better than her daughters. Maybe she did. They teased her, helped in the kitchen, they mowed the lawn and ate her food.

Do I sound jealous? Probably. Sometimes it seemed that we were invisible. However, those boys who passed through our lives were our big brothers. Some we liked. Some we didn't. Some became our friends as well.

Evidently, there were some big brothers who loved three sisters on Neff Road. I know because I still have what's left of Johnny Joe.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dad's First Rock Concert

The band rocked and rolled and a tear ran down my father's cheek.

Dad's first cousin lived on the west side after she married. Daddy grew up in Ohio and had never visited her in her California home. She had been a playmate, a friend in his growing up years on the farm. Much as we had, I'm sure they played in the barn and ran wild through the fields. But children grow up and sometimes move away. Relationships become distant and communication is by mail or not at all.

I guess I'm writing about this today because I had a dream about my cousin Al last night. Another cousin was trying to contact me last Christmas, and I have lost the info. So I need Al to get the address once more. My dream was probably telling me to just do it.

I first met Al in the 80's. The Beach Boys were in Portland for a concert. I had briefly met him once before at the airport, but now he had invited us to the green room before the show to meet the band and hang with them. My children were absolutely speechless. I had a chance to know my cousin a little bit better.

His grandfather, my great uncle, had taught me to embrace music. And, as a child, I knew nothing of his family, since they were all grown. His other daughter would come from Toledo to visit the farm, but Al's parents never came back from California. So I took up the gauntlet erasing the miles between California and Oregon, the miles between cousins.

There are few things we can give our aging parents that can knock the socks right off of them. Well, we had the opportunity to do so. Al and his band including his two grown sons was going to play a concert in Lima, his father's home town.....we just happened to be visiting the farm. We were taking Dad to his first rock concert and to meet his first cousin once removed.

Al came out to meet Mom and Dad. I don't know how much I watched the concert that day. I know that I did watch Dad. It was a good day for paths to cross and years to melt away.

Ah, it was a good day on Neff Road.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stopped By

Many a time we walked into the house to find a note written on the blackboard. Everyone knew about the blackboard. It resided on the west wall of the kitchen. Of course, the back door was never locked (we didn't have a front door). Many visitors would stop by finding no one in the house so would write a note on the board for us to find when we returned.

The blackboard was a piece of history. It tracked the movements of the Loxley family. It was always there for drawing and entertainment. It told us who visited the house leaving behind a simple note, such as 'No one home. Be back later.' to 'Was driving through the area so stopped in for a visit. Sorry we missed you.' Yes, it was a history page added to each day. A page recording a family and friends.

When I moved to my little apartment in Portland, I found a cute little chalk board with little ducks across the top. I decided to place the board outside of my apartment. The little board was stolen a few days later. No wonder we lock our doors in town.

The then west wall of the kitchen was knocked down to enlarge and move the kitchen to the west side of the house. The blackboard disappeared....probably given away. I don't think Mom and Dad ever thought to add the blackboard to the new kitchen. I wish they had.

In this picture, Brenda is leaning on one of the old kitchen chairs. I think maybe this one was Peg's. We each had our own color.  By the way, it was at one time a blackboard replaced by a newer version.


Darn, I miss that message board. I miss those fun notes from friends and neighbors. It was a good thing. A good memory back that lane on Neff Road.

"Sorry we missed you. We'll stop by later." And usually they did enjoying a piece of Mom's pie and good conversation.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Beyond the Lens

Beneath the black cloth, he looked through the lens at the sullen children, the student body of School No. 1 Franklin Twp. Red River, Ohio. Seemingly only a class picture. In reality, a glimpse into the way of life of a girl who would be my mother on Neff Road.

As with all old pictures, I quickly looked for the one who was my mom. All of the students are numbered and names written on the back of the picture. I could have found her regardless of the numbers. She is number 16 front and center.

Next I tried to place the location of the school. I think it was next to the church, but am not sure. Maybe one of my readers will know. I do know that the teacher was Pearl Van Tilburgh (per the back of the picture). Local family members and relatives attended the school. Last names: Lavey, Fifer, Seibel, Young, Warner, Ellman, Medlam, Johnson, Powell. Nineteen children and nine last names.

Looking even further I discovered more history of this rural community. Mom came from a fairly comfortable family. She wore a pretty dress and nice high top shoes. Few other children had shoes. Clothes were passed down, shoes outgrown, the boys in work overalls. I love how #10, Chalmer Warner has a tie. Yes, it is a glimpse of my family history.

We all have pictures of people we know and many we don't that have been passed down from one generation to the next. These pictures are filled with bits and pieces of the past. I plan to spend more time looking at these pictures, the locations, the clothing, the bits and pieces that allow the past to live.

I would love to know what you find in these pictures of your past. I know you will be delighted and surprised. What will our children some day in our pictures?

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Tattered Book

She was still Ruth Johnson when she began her recipe book. Her later style of flourished handwriting had not yet taken shape. The pages in the book are yellowed, torn and fragile. A history book from Mom's kitchen.

My favorite section is 'Miscellaneous'. I hope you will enjoy these hints from Neff Road, from a woman who would one day be Ruth Loxley and one dynamite cook.

Miscellaneous

Mayonnaise tinted with vegetable coloring makes pretty salads.

A pinch of ground cloves or pineapple juice improves the taste of tea. (she must not have liked tea)
Add one or two tablespoons of sour cream to potatoes when frying. (hm)

Red current jelly on top of whip cream makes it more attractive.

Raisins in rolled oats. (early granola)

Remove ink stains with salt. (I will try this one)

Grease tin and bake to keep from rusting. (you will not find this in a modern cookbook)

Oysters in baked corn. Good. (a good way to hide them)

Pile sandwiches or toast in log cabin style on plate. (love this description)

Cut balogna about 1/4" thick slices. Fry in butter. After meat curls, egg in curl and cover pan and fry. (can we say cholesterol)

Cook apricots and pineapple together.

Put marshmallows and red hots in rice. (yuk)

Pineapple, marshmallows and cheese make a good salad.

Put 1 tsp of salt in vinegar and 'mother' won't form (if anyone know what 'mother' means, let me know)

Iron rust removed from cloth with salt and lemon juice.

Water stains from glasses with vinegar and salt on a cloth.

Canker sores in mouth - drink soda water.

When 2 glasses stick together, put cold water in top one and other in hot (I would assume the cold glass will break and the glasses will no longer stick together.)

Thanks, Mom. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into the kitchen where you grew up. Thank you for a glimpse into our past, one that began before you moved to Neff Road.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Uncling and Aunting

Uncle Clark wasn't my uncle, yet I called him Uncle Clark. The same was true for Aunt Opal, Aunt Louise and Uncle Ray. They all belonged to my best friend, Brenda, but she shared them with me.

Uncle Clark collected old cars. He loved taking his small charges out for a ride in one of his cherished cars. Even as an adult, I got one more ride in the old car, another day with Uncle Clark.

It was nice of Brenda to share her family with me.  On my last visit home, I spent time with Aunt Louise and slipped right back into the memories from childhood. The day went too quickly with this aunt I had always known.

Grandpa Stager was a Moose. NOT THE ANIMAL. I remember as a small child going with Brenda to one of the Christmas parties at the lodge....just like one of his own. My Uncle Bob was a Lion. He, in turn, took Brenda and I to the Lions' Christmas party. It was all in the family.

Brenda and I had a dream of building our own house in the middle of the field between our homes. We could visit our families and have a house all to ourselves. Her home was mine and mine was hers. Over the years, her family losses as well as mine have been shared with the same sorrow.

Family was far reaching on Neff Road. It reached into my heart and carried me along.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Great Darke County Fair

Darke County Fair. Ah, the sweet memories. The animal barns, 4-H projects, rides, games, Grange building, pony rides, cotton candy, funnel cakes....ah, the Great Darke County Fair.

When my children were younger, we spent a month at the farm. The kids hung out with Meg and became farm kids for the time spent there. They picked up the friendship with Brenda's girls the same as I always do with Brenda when I return for visits.

When Sydney was a baby, we returned to the farm at fair time meeting up with the rest of the family. Sydney was toted around in the baby carrier as the cousins got reacquainted. Town kids exploring a country fair.

If Fair success can be measured, it was that year by the number of stuffed toys the kids won. Needless to say, we could not take all of them on the return trip home by plane; however, Spuds did sit in the seat next to me. Airline attendants laughed at our menagerie.

I miss the fair. I miss seeing familiar faces. I miss the smell of the animal barns. I miss visiting with older friends sitting below the race track. I miss the walk back through time.

Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe the success of the fair is measured in the memories that visit each August. Visits back to Neff Road from Oregon.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Little Yellow House

Once upon a time a field surrounded the little yellow house. Huge fir trees shaded the property, holly grew in the fields and a family lived in their new home.

This morning I sit waiting for the cement truck to come to this little yellow house. It is a long way from 1938. Cars drive past the two enormous fir trees standing sentries at the driveway entrance. Now on a half acre lot, remnants still remain from that time.

Not only does this house represent a new start for James and Lisa, my son and wife, but it warms me to think of my family once more living in a farm house. It reminds me of my roots on Neff Road. I don't hear the cars on the street. No, I see squirrels scamper chasing one another, hear the creak of old flooring and sit on the porch that once was new, now in need of repair.

I have been here helping the kids get the yard in order. Past tenants decided to stop pulling weeds when the new buyers made their offer. The enormity of the work to be done was startling for my new daughter-in-law who has had little experience with yards. So for the last week I have been making my pilgrimage back in time to dig on an old farm.

Living back that lane on Neff Road taught the women who lived there to be strong. We knew how to work and never whined or questioned the need for it. Living on a farm is a way of life. A good way of life. My sister thinks I'm crazy for missing our tobacco crop. I miss the comradery of those working together in the field and in the strip shed (a place where tobacco leaves were separated from the stalk). I miss the long hours of work and bantering that came along with it. I miss sitting in the field drinking water from an old Thermos jug, eating sandwiches Mom brought to the field.

I sit here looking out over a lovely lawn knowing that it will be work, but work that will make them love their house even more.

Once upon a time a couple bought an old house. Repairs and updates were needed. The lawn called for attention. A newly wedded couple was moving 'home'.

Missing Neff Road this morning.