Well, you CAN go home again, if the people who own your childhood home are nice enough to let you come and visit!
Let me step back a little bit here. A couple years ago I had Googled my childhood home address in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Not only did the address pop up on the maps for Google Earth, but also a business Facebook listing came up.
Of course, I had to pop off a message to her saying "You don't know me but..."
Since then, we have become Facebook friends and have chatted back and forth. She gave me a standing invitation that if any time I come down into that area I will be more than welcome to stop by.
It just so happened that Sunday I needed to run down to Milwaukee and pick up some items from a friend of mine who is moving. So I contacted the owners of my childhood home and asked them if it would be possible to stop by and visit?
They emphatically said yes and that hopefully I could spend the afternoon.
I drove down to Milwaukee and met up with my friends Karen and Herb. They are moving items from their home in Milwaukee down to their home in Florida and she had a large amount of weaving and spinning materials to get to me. We met up at Trader Joe's where I could stock up on my favorite Two Buck Chuck wine (Charles Shaw) and cookie butter. Then we went out for a little lunch to Applebee's and enjoyed some time together.
After piling my car full of bags of wool roving and weaving supplies, it was time for hugs and goodbyes.... now I could head on out to the next step of my adventure!
I swung up on the exit to Cedarburg which was crammed full of traffic due to the Strawberry Fest going on downtown. I didn't go anywhere near the downtown and instead cut around through Hamilton to go up to the cemetery first. I added some flowers to Grandma and Grandpa and Great Grandma's graves, it looks like cousin Laura has already been there along with some of the other Staton cousins.
Then I got back in my car and cut back over on Pioneer Road to the other cemetery. This is the one that my little sister Su Su is buried in. I made my way to her familiar grave and cleared off all of the overgrown weeds. There's some beautiful little statues and figurines there that my mom and my cousin Laura also put into place during previous visits.
I added new flowers to her grave and talked to her a little bit too. I told her I was going back home to where we used to live when she was such a sweet little girl. Sadly at the age of 2 and a half years old, she had been hit and killed by a car in front of the home.
Here I am with her at a birthday party...
and one of her with our big old tom cat, Tabby.
But I wanted to focus on the happy years that we lived in that home
and not focus on the loss of my little sister.
As I drew up closer to the house, I had to slow down a bit and snap the picture of the home from the car. My heart was leaping up into my throat. The house came into view with taller trees around it. I was joyously happy to see it again.
Parking my car in the driveway, I eased out and took a deep breath. I was shaking. I don't know why but I was shaking. I looked around and it felt good. I was HOME!
Here is a quick 30 second clip I put on Youtube:
Long ago, it had been a country school house,
on a rural crossroads.
It had already been made into a home
when my parents bought it when I was 2 years old.
We started walking around the yard, a lot of trees are new and different, but the old apple tree and the crabapple tree are still there as well as the big old white lilac bush and some of the purple lilacs. If you recall a few blogs back, for Mother's Day I just planted a white lilac bush in my own yard, remembering the one that I had as a child at this home.
I saw the patched-up hole in the cement where the lightning bolt had hit on the floor.... Right at the entrance to the garage door on the right hand stall side. Dad had been in the garage as a storm was rolling in and a lightning bolt struck the floor and blasted a hole in the cement. Dad said the lightning bolt flashed around inside of the garage and all of the dust and dirt flew up into the air from the static electricity. He got the dirt in his eyes and came running into the house hollering and bellering and scared the bejesus out of us kids. I remember him bending over the kitchen sink with Mom at his side trying to rinse his eyes out with water --- and we were all terrified about lightning after that. What a memory.
We walked around the yard and admired J's wonderful work at arranging new flower beds and trees and bushes and shrubs. L showed me their special area where they buried their pets of the past years. It was right where we used to bury ours. She had a little Memorial Garden setup for all of her pets. I remember our pets well when we lived there: we had Duke the collie mix, Big Mike the big black lab, and Scooter a terrier mix... All who are buried in that yard.
Me n Duke at the door...
and us kids with Scooter at the Doghouse
We also had Petunia the Beagle who moved up to Michigan with us in 1970.
In the background you can see the old apple tree (still there)
and our big Cabin Crusier boat
I had been telling L about some of our exploits in the basement so we turned to the right and went down to the basement first.
I remember sitting on the old wooden steps in the basement with the neighbor kids. They taught me the song "Found a Peanut Found a Peanut Last Night" I have no idea where that memory came from but it comes back, clear as a bell.
On the wall to the right I could see where the old shelves had been at one time. The paint on the wall showed where the location was. My mother kept laundry supplies on that shelf including bluing. Do you remember bluing? For making white laundry even brighter? Well underneath that shelf she had a big old baby buggy. Mom would stick my little brother and sister in there while she was running clothing through the wringer washer (which can be very dangerous). She turned around to see my sister who was probably 4, squirting the bluing into my brother's light blonde white hair who was about the age of 3. My sister was playing hairdresser! This all happened while I was at school but I came home from school that afternoon to see my brother stretched across the kitchen counter, with his head in the sink, while my mother was scrubbing his hair under the faucet. She was trying to get the bluing out. His snow white blonde hair turned into green! It lasted for a couple weeks and I think this was around Easter time. So that meant that he had to go to church with green hair! Ahhhh the things we remember...
As I looked around the basement I remember things like riding around on our tricycles and our old pedal tractor. Or playing with roller skates clamped to our shoes... going around and around in figure eight fashion around the metal posts that supported the center of the house.
I don't remember it so much, but my mom said I broke my collarbone down there. I do remember my brother pulling me around on my tricycle like crack the whip and Mom said I came around the furnace and smacked into the hot water heater and broke my collarbone. I do remember wearing a harness. Being that we were out in the country we played a lot in our house in the basement and the attic and in the yard. We played a lot with each other because we were rural kids. We were each others best friends. Sometimes we would play with the neighbors kitty-corner across the road too. But usually we were pretty much six brothers and sisters all together in that one small house
We laughed about the sewer pipe where I would crawl up as a kid and i would pad it with a piece of dirty laundry, usually a towel, stolen from the washing area. I would lay up there on the pipe like a cat, and it was my Hiding Place. It was one horizontal section that joined into the vertical section and I could crawl up there on the ribs of the old cast iron sewer pipe. We kids found lots of cool places to hide or play. Maybe with a family of 6 kids I like to find places to hide so I could read a book. I fondly remember sitting in a crook of the apple tree, reading up in the hidden greenness of the leaves in my own little sanctuary. I was a voracious reader and read everything I could get my hands on.
Next, it was time to go up the stairs and see more of the house on the main floor. Amazingly so much is kept original. All the original hardwood floors, the trim woodwork, the doors and knobs, the arch to the hallway, yes.... everything is still the same. New paint of course, but the cabinets were the same and the layout, even some of the light fixtures were the same.
I felt the familiar groove underneath with my fingers as I pulled it out.
And through the magic of Photoshop
here I am doing dishes with myself 50+ years later!
This picture makes me cry,
I could never imagine this fanciful imaginative emotional child in the picture
would someday be doing dishes with her own self 50+ years later?
I got to look at my old bedroom and envision where all of our beds had been. The home has 2 bedrooms on the main floor and an unfinished upstairs/attic area. As each kid came along, our parents just made more room for another bed. The room is small but soon there were two sets of bunk beds and a crib crossways on the north wall. We had five children in that one bedroom! The two girls had the bunks on the right and the two boys had the bunks on the left. Toddler SuSu was in the crib and when baby Umpee (Eugene) came along, he was in a bassinet in our mom and dad's room across the hall.
Dad started building the bedrooms in the upstairs. There was room to make three or four bedrooms up there. He studded in the wall and started a room for the boys with some walls studded in and low pieces of sheetrock and never got any further before becoming disabled.
But the boys moved their beds up there anyhow which gave more room to the bedroom for us girls. In the open area of the unfinished attic he had made us a little school room. We had three little school desks up there and he put a chalkboard on the wall of unfinished studs. Imagine my surprise when J and L pointed to the chimney. Even though they have the entire upstairs now finished, they left the chimney brick exposed. Look at this!
Yes, this is our artwork from one of us six kids. I have no idea what it says or who did it. All I know is it is for sure from one of us. How amazing that they did not cover it over or repaint the chimney in any way. It is preserved for us children, now grown, to know that we spent many happy hours in the upstairs of this house playing "School".
The other thing we did in this upstairs is very unusual. The wide plank floors had a lot of knot holes. The knots had fallen through and there were these big holes. It became a fun game for us to roll marbles across the floor and see if they could make it from one end of the attic to the other without falling in a hole. Of course many of our marbles did fall in the holes...
Can you imagine J and L crawling around on the floor with a flashlight looking in these holes and finding our Treasures? The holes are too small to reach in and grab anything... but it one hole L even spotted a little pink beaded bracelet that must have come from one of us girls. J mentioned as he was finishing off the attic area he did find some small toys crammed around the edges where he was doing the insulation in the eaves and blocking it off. He said he found little toys like old Fisher-Price people and marbles and whatever ----and said he saved them in a box somewhere. Maybe someday if he comes across them I will be able to see our old toys? What a treasure!
Sadly, the circumstances were that my sister had died, plus my dad had been disabled from some accidents and surgeries on his stomach. Mom just couldn't bear to live there anymore.
Dad had some friends whose father had been fixing up a house up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (his hometown area). Their father had died and the family still owned the house and wanted to get rid of it. So we had an opportunity to buy that house. Dad went up ahead of time and started fixing it up for us to move there. They put our little Cedarburg home on the market it sold very, very fast. We had to rush to pack everything up and leave.
I was almost 10 years old and I did not want to leave. We were so close to our Grandma and all of our cousins and this was the only life we had known. This quaint little pioneer theme town of Cedarburg, full of culture and art and wonderful things, was going to be left behind. I remember that day of October 10th, 1970. I looked out my window for one more time from my bedroom and said I will remember this view forever. Then I picked a little rock out of the driveway and I still have that rock to this day and it has been in my jewelry for box 46 years.
Excuse me now while I go and cry.