Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I just got back from a weekend up north with my dad. My dad's younger brother, Stanley, is battling cancer (for the 4th time) and it he doesn't have much time left, unfortunately. My dad and Stanley were really close growing up so I wanted to make sure that they got to see each other during these last days. It was a nice opportunity to hang out with my dad and hear more stories of his youth (it was a 5 hour drive so we had plenty of time to talk) even if it was for an unfortunate reason.

My dad and his siblings. My dad was the only redhead of the bunch and gained the nickname 'Red'. He's the second from the front on the left and on the far left in the picture on the right. In both, he is standing behind Stanley.

We drove up one day, and back home the next - it didn't seem like much time, but I'm so glad I got to spend this time with my dad, see my cousins, aunt, and of course my uncle. My dad is the middle kid of 5. Four boys, and one girl (the youngest). They were all about a year and a half apart. Stanley and my dad shared a room and even worked several jobs together. I got to re-hear stories I've heard before, but also got the opportunity to find out new things... like Stanley always drove (even when they were younger), and how my aunt met my uncle roller skating (it was a big thing then).

I got to hear about the time the boys brought a horse in the farm house while their parents were out. Apparently, horses go up stairs just fine, but don't want to come down. Oh, and that horse took a nice crap in the kitchen. Not sure if it was the same horse, but one got stuck in the outhouse too. It's good to hear stories of how mischievous my dad was as a youngster.

My aunt Marian on the farm in the mid 1930's?

Then there were the injuries... like when uncle Barney took his sled down the creek and happened to look up as he slid under a bridge... and peeled back some of his skin. He apparently went home and just taped his skin back down. In fact, there were quite a few 'taped the skin right back down' stories.

Some of my dad's siblings with grandpas and an uncle, Check out that mustache on Great Grandpa Riley. Yup, that's where I got my kid's name from.

After a difficult goodbye we headed home, but stopped at the old family farm first. My dad lived there from birth to age 16 when grandpa decided to sell. He farmed about 300 acres with 20 horses, 4 sons and often a hired hand. But as the older boys started out on their own and technology came into the picture (tractors) I guess he decided to sell. They moved into town, but we all think of this farm in the middle of nowhere to be ours. It's been 70 years since grandpa owned it, but we still show up from time to time, sometimes just driving by and other times stopping in.

My grandpa

My grandma (left) and her sister. Grandma died from cancer about 20 years before I was born. 

My grandpa (second from left) and his siblings (picture taken in my current living room). Grandpa also died from cancer when I was about 6 years old. Grandpa looks small here, but his brothers were just exceptionally big.

While I've driven by this place a number of times, this was my first time wandering around and talking with the current owner. The lady who owns the farm seemed hesitant to let me take pictures at first. I almost didn't because I didn't want to offend her, but once I pulled out my camera she actually asked if I would send her pictures and invited me back in the summer to take more since she said it is so beautiful at that time.

Not sure of the year of the picture on the left, but it's old. That's my grandpa on the left. He put the new foundation on the house which was a disappointment to the kids. A crooked house is much better to race your matchbox cars across.

The barn was cut down as you can see it used to have windows and the roof was higher. Apparently, grandpa painted all the buildings red, and then decided he wanted them all white a few years later... and they are still white to this day.

See that bridge? That's the one that took part of Uncle Barney's scalp off.

Part of the 300ish acres

Grandma used to hold 'church' for the kids under this tree

This aerial picture of the farm was taken long ago and posted in the newspaper. The first to identify the farm got free tickets to the theater. Years later, my brother took this old worn out picture and drew multiple pictures of the farm - one for my dad and for each of the siblings.

A number of the buildings are no longer there and another couple are on their way out, like the hog barn, but we'll always have this picture and I imagine we'll keep making random stops to see this small, but very visual connection to our past.

1 comment:

  1. This was wondeful for me to read about, had a knot in my throat and tears in my eyes getting to learn a little bit more about Grandpa Frank and his family!


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