The old farm house I grew up in wasn’t very big which makes me wonder how we all fit inside. The main floor consisted of a spacious kitchen and living room. In the early years the upstairs consisted of a large bedroom with a smaller room on the landing. My parents and three older siblings slept in the spacious south facing bedroom while my grandfather slept in the small alcove on the landing. After I was born an addition was added over the kitchen and became my parents bedroom. At that time a front porch was added that served as a mud room, laundry room and storage room. My second oldest brother added a small back porch that sheltered an entrance to the dirt cellar.
After my dad passed away my second oldest brother moved his house onto that quarter section after tearing down part of the old house and moving the remainder onto a cement pad closer to the old cotton wood tree that my grandmother had planted there when they bought the farm in 1920.
I hadn’t been there for many years until my brother and his wife hosted a family reunion twenty years ago. A few of us went into the old house when we discovered the door was open. Even though there wasn’t any furniture on the main floor I could still imagine Mom sitting at the sewing machine or sitting on an old-fashioned chair brushing out her long waist length hair before putting it back into braids again. Dad would often be sitting in a chair reading his paper, at his secretary desk or playing old fiddle tunes. Sometimes Dad would tell us stories of his youth and often hold a teddy bear and make it move as if by magic. I never did learn his secret. The large south bedroom was still furnished. The metal bed frames were still set up with dressers beside them. Some of my dad’s clothes still hung there. The two old trunks were up there along with books on shelves at the head of the stairs. It gave me a creepy feeling.
The stairs were steep and narrow almost straight up like a ladder. They had always been very dangerous and my sister and I fell down them many times. One of my favorite games was to run up the stairs and slid down on my bum. The stairs were well-worn with smooth edges making the way easier and less bumpy.
My brother passed away a few years ago and my sister-in-law sold the farm because neither of their kids were interested in farming. She finally said my sister and I could have the old trunks that had belonged to our grandparents. The trunks travelled to many Canadian homesteads before finally reaching their location on the farm in Manitoba. What a tale they could tell if they could only talk. My sister and I spent many hours going through the treasures that Dad stored in the trunks. The bigger of the two trunks served as a window seat in front of the south window. It was a good place to perch to read a book or simply get absorbed in a daydream. The smaller one sat on the landing beside the bookshelves at the top of the shelves. Most of the things that were in the trunks years ago are now gone but the memories are still there.
There are a few things that take me right back into those days years ago. They are the smell of fresh bread and the sound of an old fashioned fiddle music. My mom always baked bread. It was wonderful to walk into the kitchen and cut off a crust of bread and slather it with homemade butter. When the front crust was gone someone else took off the heel of the loaf and then we attacked the side crusts leaving the soft inside of the loaf.
The old house had been filled with antique furniture. I have Dad’s secretary desk, Mom’s old Singer Sewing Machine and one of the old metal beds while my son has the oak table that once belonged to my grandparents. I also now have my grandfathers trunk which needs a little tlc. There are memories sitting at that old table playing with a pair of magnetic Scotty dogs. When one was held underneath the table the one on top moved magically. Dress patterns were cut out on the table and I can still see Mom standing there cutting out a new dress.
There were a lot of fun times had in that old farm-house. A lot of our entertainment was home-made and out of my imagination. In those early years there wasn’t the distraction of television. Times were simpler.