We moved a lot, when I was a kid; oh, we stayed in the same general area of Iowa for my first eight or nine years, but we lived in several different houses. I can remember living in the switchboard house in Nodaway, and a couple of houses belonging to a farmer named Ted Davies, for whom my dad worked sometimes. I have a fairly good recollection of the switchboard house at Guss. But to stroll down memory lane and go on a mental walk-through, I can't visualize those houses very well.
There were three homes that remained constant throughout my growing-up years: Grandma's house, Uncle Leo's house, and the first house my sister and her husband purchased in Kansas City. I have no pictures of Uncle Leo's house (it would be nice if a cousin would send me one), and none of the exterior of my sister's first home. But Grandma's house is featured in pictures taken as far back as my mother's childhood. It never really changed.
I don't know why I'm trying to choke my cousin Betty in this picture. You can see Grandma's clothesline pole to the right, and behind it, her smokehouse. I can smell the milky odor of the smokehouse even now; that's where Grandma would sit on a stool (or was it the edge of a table?) and turn the crank of her cream separator after milking Patsy, her Guernsey cow. I can hear the whirring noise the separator made, and see the cream coming out of one spigot and milk out of another.
This is a view from the road, obviously at the time of some family gathering. See the big evergreen tree to the left (that's the front yard) of the house? There was an identical one behind it; my cousins and I sometimes crawled under the cave-like shelter of that pair of trees and built things with twigs that were lying on the ground. There's the smokehouse again.
You can see the porch extending off the house in the background; I remember far, far back when Grandma still had an ice box that sat on the left side of that porch when you walked in. She kept her African Violets on the porch until outside temperatures got down to freezing; then she took them in the kitchen. You'd walk in the porch door and go straight ahead into the kitchen. To the right of the kitchen door was a narrower door that led out back to the outhouse. To the right of that, the door to the cellar; so if Grandma needed to go to the cellar, she didn't have to step outside to get there. That's me in the middle with my cousins, Betty and Royce. They lived down the road from Grandma. The dog is Tippy.
I could absolutely walk you through every room in Grandma's house and describe the furniture and all the objects in those rooms. I can shut my eyes and see it all. It's amazing, really, the details that are etched into my brain, and how vivid the memories are.
When you're a kid, it's important to have some rock-solid things in your life that don't change. Going to Grandma's house, or Uncle Leo's, or Maxine's, was like going home. They were places I could count on.
I cherish the memories of those places.