For those of you who have read my blog for a while, you know we live in a 100+ year old home. It was started in 1913 and completed in 1914. The Kopf family occupied it for 83 years- from 1929 for four generations until we purchased it in 2012.
We have kept in contact with the Kopf family members since purchasing the home. It turns out that George Kopf Jr, along with his lovely wife Sandy, were traveling to Chilton to attend his high school reunion.
Sandy had written ahead of time to ask if we could arrange some time for George to come to visit his childhood home. Just to sit on his front porch to have a cup of coffee and reminisce.
We were so excited to have them come and see the home again. To see how we have really tried hard to preserve the home in it's original condition, as opposed to what so many people do to lovely older homes. I shudder when I see these television programs that focus on modernizing, remodeling, ripping out walls, or painting the woodwork. Gasp, oh horrors if we did that!
Sandy and George arrived yesterday morning. They admired all of the plants in the yard as they came around to the front door. I was so tickled that they wanted to come in through the front door. Most of the people that come here just come to the back door, which is closest to where the cars are parked in the driveway.
He specifically admired the old bushes and trees that are still there in the front yard, just as they were when he was a boy. The bridal wreath bush on the corner of the front porch, as well as the clematis plant crawling up the trellis. More on that later---
They came into the home and we got acquainted. As we wandered through the home, from room to room, it was so much fun to hear his stories and recollections as a child.
We showed them the things we had changed, or things we had preserved to make it as original as possible. He had a lot of fine memories to share, some happy, and yes, some sad. It was a lifetime of his memories to sort through as he grew up in this home.
After we wandered throughout the entire house, upstairs and down, we returned to the front porch to do what he had asked... Yes, to sit and sip a cup of coffee in his old front porch and watch the cars go by.
I made some blueberry muffins and we had thoroughly delightful conversation over our coffee.
He remembered the parades that went by as a child, right up the street in front of the house. He talked about all of the trees that had been taken down when the road was widened and how things look different when the road commission needed to accommodate four lanes of traffic. The road in front of our house is State Highway 57. Even though it slows down to 25 miles an hour in our town, there's still a lot of traffic that passes in front of the home.
Sandy took a pic of us with George too!
He was fondly remembering where his father sat, where the the old philco radio was in the corner, and how on hot summer evenings they would spend their time out there and even sleep on the porch, as opposed to going into the hot bedrooms upstairs.
Gifts were exchanged, which included a wonderful vintage playing deck of cards with the local Kriwanek Ford Garage motif printed on them. This is where his father had worked when he was a child. His niece Debbi had come across them in some of the family things. He said to take note that only part of the deck appears to be well used and not the rest of the cards. That's because the card game of choice in their home was Sheepshead, also locally known as "Schafkopf"... How fitting because their last name is Kopf!
In return, I give them a jar of raspberry jam made from the berries that grew right here in his own childhood backyard. He had good memories of all the raspberries and garden plants that his father and grandfather used to raise in the big deep backyard over the years. He knows he picked "gallons" of berries from that yard each year. Not to mention the weeds he pulled and vegetables that were harvested.
Another gift I gave them were two matching coat hooks, that are used throughout the home. All of the coat hooks in the house match, along with the door hinges, door knobs, heating register vents and cold air return grids. They are all of a specific black and copper patterning. The hooks have a beautiful heart shape to the base of them.
We had removed two of the hooks to erect some shelves inside his father's old bedroom closet last month. I set the two hooks with the coordinating screws aside in a small bag to save them for George and Sandy. It's something small they can tuck into their suitcase when they fly home. So they can bring a little bit of his Chilton childhood home back with them to Florida.
Also, I gave them a DVD of a movie that had been produced about Chilton in 1938. A movie production company had filmed people and businesses around the town in 1938. A few years ago, the Kiwanis club undertook identifying all of the people, narrating it, and made the movie public. In the course of the movie there is one section where the movie production company filmed his father working at the Ford garage and he is mentioned by name. The movie is available to watch in two parts on YouTube:
I put both parts on a DVD, as well as a CD of all of the old newspaper articles in the column named "Looking Back" featuring different events, homes, businesses, and people in the community. This retro memory column is published by a friend of ours, Herb Buhl. Lastly, I attached all of the photos of the house when we first looked at it when it was for sale in 2012, along with new photos now over the last five and a half years of the things we have restored. So he can bring a bit of his childhood home and pop in a CD to see the photos again and again.
All too soon it was time to go... They had to return the rental car and had a plane to catch out of Green Bay.
We stopped outside by the vintage bridal wreath bush next to the many decades-old clematis plant on the trellis. We re-created this photo from his 8th grade graduation!!
Before he got into the car, he was looking around the yard, with a wistful look of remembrance in his eyes.
- he told stories of flying paper airplanes off the back upstairs shaker porch...
- he talked about the old apple tree that is now long gone...
- he talked about when Uncle Mike came to build the original single stall garage behind the home...
- he also remembered the year that the tall black pine tree out front had been planted, as well as when his Uncle Mike backed into it with a truck! All the while his father was yelling "WHOA WHOA" like trying to stop a horse!
I could have listened to him for hours.
What a fine young man to be raised in this little community, to go on and become a doctor, get married to a wonderful woman and raise a family of his own.
Here, just for grins, is a photo of the house
that he knew as a child...
And how it looks today!
Some kind people let me go back last year and visit my childhood home. It was wonderful to pay it forward and do someone else the same honor.
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