My grandparents were old people who lived in an even older house. Grandparents are supposed to be old, but mine were older than usual since I was a late-in-life baby. Their house had been a schoolhouse in the 1880’s. It was put together with wooden slats and pegs. It had white clapboard with dark green shutters. During a storm, the shutters would flap and bang against the house and it surly always scared the donkey doo out of me every time.
That old house had needed painting for many years. One day, Granddad would get it done. He always waited to do his work until he felt it was time, otherwise, things never seemed to end up as he had wanted. Some of the surrounding trees were over one hundred years old. It was a wonder some of the old branches hadn’t come crashing onto the roof during one of the wind storms. Overtime, many of the trees had to be cut down, some fell during storms and some just rotted away, then had to be downed because of the danger they could cause.
The school house was built on a 100-acre piece of land. When Granddad bought the place, they had to do some remodeling to make it into a livable home. They wanted a large family. As time went on and no more babies came, Granddad started selling 10 acres at a time.
They raised their only child, Phyllis, there. They allowed their daughter to take the second story and make it her own. When Phyllis turned 34, she married Sanford and the two of them then made the second story into their home. It was plenty big enough to include a baby. So, there I was, born and raised in that big old house. There were lots of trees to climb plus many branches were strong enough to put swings. Yes, I had to have two; one for me and one for my dolly.
From the front porch swing, Granny and I would watch the neighborhood live their lives. It seemed as though someone was always going by honking or waving. Granny had more friends than anyone I have ever known. She was quite the social butterfly. She had joined all the women’s clubs, plus, we must not forget church twice a week.
On Sundays, Granny would get really doozied up to show off her new red dress or Carmen Miranda hat. It was always a showdown to see if Granny could outdo the town’s floozy. At least everyone stayed awake during the service. They had to see the rolling eyes, head nods and pointing fingers.
Then of course, Granny always made the sweets for the Wednesday night church suppers. Her family doctor told her that if sweets were alcohol she would be the biggest drunk in town. Granny loved the attention and took it as a compliment!
Granddad was one of the best carpenters around so he was hired to manage nearly every project in the county for a month at a time. So, when Granddad had to be out of town, Granny would throw a dance party. All the rugs would be rolled up and the floor would have powder sprinkled on them to make them slick. Nearly everyone knew how to shake a leg and do the Charleston. Granddad thought all of this was nonsense. He knew how Granny loved this so he never spoke against it.
When a smaller group of people came and Granddad didn’t care for someone who tried
to start up a conservation, he would sneak out of the house and go to his work shed. He had every tool available at the time. He needed them for work plus he had to remodel that old house. Tools were priceless back in those days.
Plumbing was the hardest. The pipes were made of metal and had to be cut and fitted at the joints. The one thing he had to get help with was putting in the indoor plumbing. Oh! what a relief that was! Imagine today with outside toilets and pumping water with a handle. It took a week for Granddad to tell me that whole story because he would pause after nearly every sentence, as he took off his hat, scratched his head, and thought back to those hard days.
Granddad lived to be 98; Granny to 95. Both their funerals brought in all the townspeople. If only they could have seen what a good time was had afterwards, it would have put a smile on Granny’s face, but if Granddad could have seen all the people, he would have thought, “What’s all the fuss about!”
Soon afterwards, my parents and I moved closer to town and never looked back. It was as if it were a fallen rose petal.
Fiction Author: C.G.Rose