The first house I recall living in was the switchboard house at Guss, Iowa. Now, Guss wasn't an incorporated village, although you can still locate it on most maps. It consisted of half a dozen houses, a blacksmith shop, a grocery store/gas station, and a Methodist church. I have letters my mother received when we lived there, and they were addressed "Villisca, Iowa". So that was our official address.
Directly across the road from our house was Alvin Mitchell's blacksmith shop; Daddy could often be found in that cave-like place, smoking his roll-your-own cigarettes and visiting with Alvin and whatever local farmers happened to be there.
Things I recall about Alvin's blacksmith shop: The peculiar smell of burning coal and hot metal. A calendar with a sexy lady, I think maybe Marilyn Monroe, that my dad sometimes commented on. I didn't understand his comments, but he always had a big smile on his face when he looked at that calendar. There was a pop machine there, and when I could talk Daddy out of a nickel, I'd buy myself a bottle of Tyler grape.
In the mid-nineties, my nephew and his wife, my mother, and I went to Guss to take some pictures in what used to be a tiny community. We were doing this because my sister and her husband were about to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary, and her son thought it would be fun to have some pictures of the area where his parents first met.
Doing this entry, I wonder if some grandchild of Alvin's will end up on my blog, reading about his grandpa's blacksmith shop.