Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The old mantel

The old piece of wood sits against the wall. A lovely old piece full of memories of a house back the lane.
I remember asking Mom the age of our lovely house on the hill. She told me that it was at least 65 years old. Considering that I was a child when I asked, the house must be ancient at this point in my life. The house on the hill.

Old houses dotted the community when I was growing up. I remember as a teen dreaming of one day living in a little ranch-style home. Now as a woman of many decades, I appreciate those old houses more and more. I want to know their histories. I want to once more cross the doorways into history.

Mom and Dad decided to take the small rooms in their house and make a couple of larger rooms for a more modern family. Gone were the days of the woodstove and the vents in the upstairs floors. It was time for baseboard heating and more space. We had grown up sitting in the windows of our house, watching Dad in the field as well as the sparse traffic on Neff Road. It wasn't until the wall was stripped of its plaster during the remodel, that I understood why those windowsills were so deep. The outside walls of our house were made of hand-hewn logs. Huge logs chiseled and stacked within the walls. Our basement walls were made of fieldstone with the ceiling beam also of that hewn wood. Again, something else I never really thought about. An old house with a history hidden within the walls.

My grandfather's house on Byreley Road was built by said grandfather Isaiah Loxley. A modern man, he built the house with all the modern bells and whistles. It even had a bathroom inside the house! It was a beautiful house with French doors and window seats. A home I wish I had today. He had one of the most modern stoves and closet space galore. A house we all loved for its beauty and grace. A house built by my grandfather and his sons. My guess would be that the lumber for the house was milled in the woods at the back of the property. Another Loxley house with a history.

Uncle Keith and Aunt Kate Loxley had the most unusual house. Oh, how I loved it. We don't know the history of the house, but it was a house like no other. The large brick house was in an L-shape with a raised cement platform across the side of the house. The rooms on the first floor were fairly small with the upstairs separated into several rooms with one big room in the middle. They could possibly have been rooms for boarders. The heavy doors had latches. A large enclosed porch ran down the Neff side of the house. We have no history of the house. The house could have been a waystation for a stage or passing wagons. The house was very old as seen in the old red bricks. A history lost, but another of the old houses that I still carry with me.

The old piece of wood is a reminder. For each room of that house on the hill where I grew up had a different symbol on the door mantel. The door of the small room that grew in size with the remodel, lost its mantel to the barn where it collected spider webs and dust. When the farm sold, it came home with me to Oregon. It is a warm reminder of the houses within that quarter of a mile on Neff Road.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Thinking of all you moms

If you don't have a mother, I would stand in. 

If you don't have a child, I would understand. 

If you are a child, know that you are loved. 

If you are a daddy mom, know that you are admired. 

If you are a mother, you know the depth of love. 

If you are a grandma, then, of course, you understand. 

Happy Mother's Day to all of you who are blessed to have a mom, blessed to remember a mom's love, blessed to be a parent, and most of all, blessed to have know what it was like to be in your mother's arms. 

Happy Mother's Day with love.

Monday, May 4, 2020

The ribs of a barn

The barn. The big, beautiful barn. Most of my life my Dad's name was on the side of the barn. I was never sure why since most people knew who lived there already. And, of course, I knew who lived there. I think maybe it was the pride in this wonderful barn. It was a groundbreaker.

The barn was built when my oldest sister was just a little girl, long before I came onto the scene. Monroe Riffel helped Dad build this new style of barn. It was the first of its kind in the area for this barn did not have pillars holding up the roof as did my grandfather's. Nope. The rafters curved along the vaulted roof.

The history of Dad's barn is the history of many barns in the area. Back then a sawmill was set up in the creek bottom. Dad and Monroe cut the trees and planed the wood. With his team of Belgian horses, Dad took the building materials to the site of the barn. There a foundation was poured and construction began.

As an adult, I am amazed at the practicality of this barn. Most 'kids' who played in that barn remember the big door over the front of the haymow. Yes, that was a place we sat to take in the view. In fact, the window looked directly at my bedroom window. Many a time I sat there in the barn with my feet hanging over the edge, looking out over the fields and neighborhood. I might see Doris Lavy sitting on her porch or Hollie Stager plowing a field. I could see the bridge and look over the creek bottom. Here life on Neff Road was captured in the frame of a door.

This barn was practical. On each end of the haymow was a door that lowered on pulleys. It was as if the top of the barn was being lowered. These doors allowed air to flow through the barn keeping the mow cool, keeping dampness at bay. My sister June thinks that maybe in the early days, hay and straw were blown into the barn through those doors. Bales were transported from the wagon bed to the haymow via an elevator. One man would stand on the wagon loading the bales onto the elevator, while two or three men moved them from the front window, stacking them along the sides of the loft. When the bales rose higher, the elevator was moved to the end of the barn where a higher window allowed the bales to come into the barn high enough to make stacking more efficient. What a barn! What a wonderful barn.

Once in awhile, someone would come to see this new marvel of a barn. It was a barn built for milk cows, and, in my opinion, a place for childhood memories. Yet over the years, my view of that barn across the yard changed. I learned that Dad had his new herd of milk cows destroyed when they contracted a disease. The dreams of a young couple were crushed; however, you can't keep a farmer down. Dad raised beef cattle and sheep. The old milk parlor remained coated in dust and cobwebs. It was a reminder of the past. Yet the rest of the barn was full of life. The old white barn built from the lumber of the land became a symbol of survival. It was a place filled with the laughter of children and the sweat and determination of that family whose name was on the barn. It was always the view from my window.