It’s interesting how as we get older some of our fondest memories can come from the simplest times of growing up. It’s not about the job, the big house, how much money we make (or made), but just growing up. These days I often find myself looking around our modern retirement dream home that we built in the Okanagan and thinking nostalgically about those simpler times.
One fond memory I have (of many, many actually) is about the old farmhouse where my grandparents lived and my mom and her two sisters grew up. The picture on the left is that particular house after the additions of the tidy blue vinyl siding and modern screen door on the front. I don’t actually remember too much about these changes as they were made long after my grandparents had passed away. I remember the aged and weathered wooden siding that to a child never showed any sign of aging. It just was as it always had been. I remember the wooden shingled roof that always seemed to be losing parts of itself when a storm blew through. My dad showed me how you could take a roof shingle and karate chop it in half if you hit it with the grain of the wood. If you hit it across the grain you had a much different result and perhaps even the odd tear because of your sore hand. This, I am sure, got a silent chuckle from my dad. I remember the 3 lightning rods at the roof’s peak and remember wondering if I would ever see lightning actually strike and wishing it would happen. For the record, I never did see it strike but was told it often did strike and it wasn’t something to wish for! But hey, I was just a kid taking in the world fascinated by things we didn’t have in the big city.
The house had two entrances that were enclosed by “verandas”. What? Yes, verandas. In the city we had decks and patios but old farm houses where grandparents lived had verandas. You may want to make a note of that and tell your kids. These verandas even had names. The one on the back of the house was called the west veranda but the one on the front wasn’t called the east veranda. It was just called the veranda. This was always very confusing to a kid. In the middle of each veranda sat a set of stairs that didn’t always seem to be level but when you jumped off from the top of them it didn’t seem to matter anyway. They were only the pads that launched many a grandchild off into the yard. Both entryways into the farmhouse had screen doors on them and when you opened them and went inside you were greeted by someone shouting “don’t slam the door”, just as you let it go and let it slam. Even as we said sorry (not always) we still walked away with a bit of a devilish smile and little laugh inside. We were kids after all….. making noise was just something we did.
In the olden days (days before me at least) houses were built for practicality, necessity, basic needs and not on square footage. Everything had a function like to keep you dry and warm, a place to sleep and have family meals together. Not like today where we build rooms to house home theatres, gym equipment, and double wall ovens. At the farm, home theatre consisted of someone strumming on a guitar, papa playing a harmonica (sort of) or one of us fighting with one of our siblings. More often than not the fighting and rough housing was what took centre stage. We were kids after all….. creating drama was just something we did.
On our many visits to “the farm” (as we fondly referred to it) we would have considered ourselves lucky if we ever made it inside the farmhouse during the day. After all, we were kids and kids didn’t need to be inside………. ever! :)especially when they had so much outside to do and see! Lol. I kind of chuckle to myself because there was very rarely ever a ball, a bike or even a wagon at the farm. Even in spite of these great challenges we never ran out of things to do and play with. There were adventures at every turn but I will defer on those until a future post. Back to the farmhouse itself. If we did get inside, you saw the same room from either entrance. You saw one main room with a small kitchen table, a possessed stove in the corner, a fridge, a ringer washing machine at the foot of the stairs leading up to the second level. There was an armchair by the front door, a chimney that hadn’t functioned as one for many years. Around the corner from the fridge was a wash stand with cold water, soap and a towel hanging on it. The towel, of course, had many a dirty hand print on it. Kids didn’t use soap or even water to wash their hands. We just gave them a quick wipe and went to where the food was. We were kids after all…. being dirty was what we did. Now this room may seem grand by description and as a kid it may have appeared so but trust me when I say it was probably 10′ wide X 20′ long (maybe). Calendar from the local Wheat Pool hung from the wall, an old AM radio sat on the table tuned into Camrose radio and played nothing but classic country music. I can still sing words to all of them (well at least the choruses) and still remain very fond of classic country music, one of many loves my fiancé and I share today.
To your left there was the doorway that led to the “living room”. This room was about the size of the kitchen and in today’s lingo would be called a “flex room”! Lol. It was a flex room because it served as a dining room at Christmas, a TV room most evenings (2 channels maybe and black and white of course), an extra bedroom with a hide-a-bed couch along one wall, a concert hall when my cousin Reggie brought his guitar by, and just generally a place we all congregated and shared many a laugh. When my kids complain about the cable being out or the internet not working I have to laugh because the TV got its signal from a set of rabbit ears on top that had a cable that led to the roof of the house (I think). Sometimes someone had to add pieces of tin foil to the rabbit ears so we could get a clearer picture and finish watching Don Messer’s Jubilee or Hee Haw. As a kid we wondered what tin foil had to do with the ears on a rabbit but we were kids after all….. and wondering about everything is what we did.
I find myself wondering what my kids’ memories will be from when they were growing up….
Stay tuned, on a future post I will tell you about the grand second story of the farmhouse as well as the scary basement!