You’ll probably hear many stories of this home, which brought my sister and I from town prisses to outdoor gals. All in three years. I was eight when we moved in from our modest village home, the first our parents had ever purchased. This was great bones of a home. Today, I’d do a signature version of the living areas but the bedroom wing would be transformed. We had a 20′ cathedral ceiling in the living room and our first fireplace, four bedrooms plus basement and a gorgeous view of the lake. We had 23 acres in which to frolic with our neighbors. My sister was six, brother two going on twenty, and youngest sister not even imagined yet.
It was a house, and on a hill. The front door was situated 10-15 feet from a straight 150′ drop. Mom wouldn’t allow us to use it unless we were weeding by the door. So we had to use the back door, which had no steps and was 18″ from mud that took us into the laundry room/mud room. This house was sold because the folks who owned it built their dream house and then ran out of funds. No drywall, molding, we painted the rough-sawn hemlock with creosote (there’s a child safety violation now, but not then). The home had a septic tank but no plans with which to find it, a natural gas tank and at age eight I pumped our own petrol from a hand pump coming from a 1,000 gallon tank that could only be filled halfway because of a leak. We were our own regular hazmat site.
I digress. Because we were not to enter or exit through the front door, the first project was to put up a front stoop in the back so we could wipe our feet and not fall over the cliff. Ironically, all the guests who ever came to the house came around back, it was to Mom’s chagrin that no-one saw her Cannas et al and the lovely foyer complete with a baby grand piano from the local priest.
So Dad knew a guy who had sand. It was our kid joke that his name was Sandy. So Sandy dumped 1/2 ton of sand where a sandbox would be made next to railroad ties to make it and also a swingset with leather seats.
We went to the hardware store 20 minutes away and bought concrete mix for what Sandy told us to make. In the kitchen we had linoleum in the two brick horizontal, two brick vertical pattern so that’s what Dad wanted to make, two stairs going up to the entryway. Sandy said we should dig a hole 4X3X3 and meant four feet across, three feet to the door, and three inches deep.
Dad got out the shovels and started digging. A couple of hours later things were going more slowly than anticipated. See, Dad was digging that hole three FEET deep!
Finally came my part of the action, which I see now as “Concrete Chef.” I rolled the wheelbarrow to the sand pile and shoveled in the requisite amount, took it back to the work site and added a bag of Portland cement, mixed, measured out buckets of water and mixed the stuff. Again, again, and again. I believe we went back to the hardware store for more cement at least twice. In the end, we started throwing in boulders and anything else to bring it up to working height. Shortly thereafter the stoop was built and set.
If a tornado hits and the entire area is blown away, that stoop will be there forever. Heaven forbid someone wants to tear down the home and rebuild on this cherished site where I picked my first wild strawberry and Papa made us a serviceable rope to get to and from the creek so we could swing and catch crayfish and have the neighbor boys throw 3′ black snakes at us or chase us to put cherry bombs down the back of our shirts. And we ate grapes, tons of them.
Luckily the owner who bought the home from us is still there, many years later. Something in my heart says I want this home for our retirement and that of my siblings, but a stronger part tells me the memories are better.
Caveat: We all have different memories. I’ll take two, Dad and the sister closest to me in age. Mom’s not around to share her version, pity, but I do remember going to the farm stand and sitting outside with her and my sister and consuming a quart of cherries. Yum. Memories are funny and interesting things. Hope you liked the story. Cheers, Dee