In the spring of 1943, my Grandpa Ready died. Before his death, he had been building a retirement home for himself and my grandmother in the Missouri countryside. He chose property just two farms away from where my family lived.
The house was unfinished when he died, and Grandma Ready had no desire to complete it or to live there alone. So she offered to rent it to our family for $25 a month, which would be $331.08 today.
Grandpa had already framed the walls of the one-story house and shingled the roof and exterior walls, but a lot of work still needed to be done. The interior wall studs supported the ceiling beams, and Grandpa had nailed the wall laths to these studs, but Dad needed to apply the plaster both to them and to the ceiling, finish the floor, and insert windows into the gaping holes on the outer walls.
Each evening that summer and on Saturday, Dad worked on the house. Before school started, he had it ready for us to move into. He and Mom had painted the walls with a blush of spring green and had bought additional furniture because we now had two bedrooms and a larger living room.
Several things were not completed—not then or by the time Dad died in 1975. He never surrounded the windows with indoor frames. To keep out the chill, Mom stuffed the four-inch wide by four-inch deep cavities with newspaper and hide the unsightliness with drapes. In addition, Dad painted only the front of the house. The other three sides remained unpainted during all the years he and Mom lived there.
Mom on front steps.
Dad also never laid the kitchen floor, so we walked all those years on the wide boards that formed the underbelly of the floor. Narrow gaps between those boards allowed snakes to slither into the kitchen. But only one did during the time I lived at home. Insects, too, found those cracks.
The city had not run water lines out into the countryside so we used a well and an outhouse. The small room between the two bedrooms would one day, we all hoped, become a bathroom with running water and toilet. In the meantime, we kept a slop bucket there for use during the night. I emptied it in the outhouse each day until my little brother got old enough to take the chore on. Dad never put up doors to the two bedrooms or that smaller room, so mother hung dark blue curtains in the three entryways.
Mom and Dad with outhouse in background.
The house had six rooms: the living room flowed into the dining room. Those two rooms and the kitchen took up the left side and middle of the house. On the right side was a short hallway. At its front end stood Mom and Dad’s bedroom, at the far end the bedroom in which my brother and I slept. Between the two was the makeshift bathroom.
In the coming months, I hope to share with you my life in that farmhouse and my adventures on the twenty acres on which it sat. I grew up there. It was there that I learned to dream.
(Continued next Wednesday . . . )
PS: Tah! Dah! I am beginning a second blog today. It will be about writing. Specifically, my writing: How I began and how I continue. What success I've had and what I've discovered about the craft. What my hopes and expectations are and what my daily writing life is like. I’ve named the blog “my life as a wordcrafter.”
If this sounds interesting to you, please click here to read the brief introduction I posted there today. My regular posting day will be Sunday.On the new blog this coming Sunday, I'll share with you the adventure of asking four blogger friends to help me rename “Twelve Habits of Highly Successful Cats & Their Humans” and design a cover for the re-issue of the book. All that happened this week and I’m so grateful for the support of others as I work at being a writer. Peace.