Back At The Old Home Place

Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.  ~John Ed Pearce

This is the home where my father was born and raised. He was the last child delivered (1930) there by his mid-wife grandmother. According to my father, the house was built about 1845. This house sits at the base of a mountain and water flows by gravity from a spring there and is piped into the house. When I was a child, the grown ups congregated on the lower porch and the children hung out on the upper porch. We seemed to have a thing for high places.

This gigantic tree is a beech tree. It was much smaller when I was a child, and was the easiest for me to climb so it ended up being a place my cousin and I retreated to get a way from the older cousins. This was once a two hundred plus acre working farm. I mostly remember the chickens, but there were other animals. There was always a large garden to feed the family. the best part to me were the trees, not just for climbing but for eating the treats that grew on them. There were walnut, chestnut, mullberry, cherry, apple, peach, and pear trees.

This huge flat rock sits at the window of my grandparent’s bedroom and at the side of the chimney. We used to collect sandstone pebbles from the clay road to write and draw on the rock. We often played school there.

This is a mixture of sandstone on the road. The black sqaure pieces are jack rocks. We used to collect those. I don’t know what kind of stone they are or what causes them to form into squares. Still when I see them now, I am overwhelmed with warm childhood memories of jack rock hunting with cousins or my aunt who often visited from Florida.

This is a sideview that shows the open front porch and the root cellar.  As a child, I was told that both contained rattlesnake dens. Rattle snakes were prevalent on the property. My grandmother stored her delicious succotash, beans, and other canned goods in the cellar. She also protected potatoes, sweet potatoes, and apples there during cold weather.

The house has been resided, but the age really shows in the chimney.

This is the “old kitchen”. They used to cook meals there so as not to heat up the house in the summer. Another kitchen was built onto the house to use during winter months.

I remember many a day of exploring the barn. We used to play in the hay loft and pretend we were driving the tractor. Across that dirt road used to sit the old apple tree I loved.

I love digging through Granddaddy’s old workshop. It overflowed with rusty treasures. If you look closely at the tree, you can see the walnuts. I spent many a year cracking those black walnuts between two pieces of soapstone.

My uncle now uses this house as a lodge for a hunting club. They now maintain the grounds and grow gardens on the property. This is the mantle in what was my grandparent’s bedroom, although that is not the same wood stove.  A beautiful clock used to set upon it as well as a picture of my uncle who was killed in World War II. He died before I was born, and I was mesmerized by his picture and often wondered about him. His death profoundly affected the family…it was something a child sensed but didn’t quite understand the magnitude. My favorite thing about this room was my grandfather’s sitting chair that was placed between the window and a small desk. We cousins used to rummage through the desk drawer and read letters that my grandmother had tucked in the drawer.

This was my grandfather’s closet. It was off-limits. I loved watching him poke in there and pull whiskey, guns, and other forbidden objects out.

This staircase seemed so huge when I was a small girl. When we gathered for family dinners on Sunday afternoon, there were usually about forty or so of us. The men ate first at the kitchen table, followed by the women at the table, and we children carried our plate to the staircase and piled up and down the steps to eat.

Once, my cousin and I overheard Granddaddy complaining about all of Big Mama’s flowers and how he wished someone would just chop them all down. My cousin and I proceeded to pick every last one and pile them along the stairwell. He nearly died when we showed him. Big Mama was fit to be tied. He explained that it was his fault, but that still did not protect us from a switch from one of our aunts.

This is the place I spent almost every Sunday of my childhood. Those were the trees I climbed, the buildings I explored, and the fields I roamed. It has weathered through time and memory, but remains precious in my heart.

44 thoughts on “Back At The Old Home Place

  1. Thank you for sharing such a precious time in your life – your childhood memories! I share similar memories so it was like revisiting that special place in my life. Too many people keep those memories in the closet of their heart. . . but I felt like I was by your side as you picked flowers and climbed trees and “explored”. Keep writing – Earl is not the only talented writer to come from the mountain. Keep writing, Susan, because you touch our hearts!

  2. What a wonderful post! Makes me want to go to my grandparents house and take pictures! So many cool memories, and sounds like you did a lot of the same things that I used to do as a kid. These kids nowadays won’t have those kinds of memories, and that is really sad to me. They’ll remember sitting on the couch playing video games! How wrong is that!!! Great story, Susan!!

    • That is sad, isn’t it? My kids played their share of video games, but they spent a lot of time in the country exploring; so I hope their childhood memories will be filled with our mountain exploits.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this glimpse into your childhood! isn’t it always the simplest things that we keep with us? Those square stones, climbing trees, picking flowers, family meals. And the feeling in your stomach when you think about the scary snakes. My grandparents lived in an old country house too and I can still hear the squeak of the linoleum floor and the slap of the back porch screen doors as we ran in and out all day long. And the brightness of the sunshine and buzzing dragonflies all day long. Thanks for this!

    • Diane, You know the crazy thing about writing this is that I totally forgot all about mentioning the haunted tales we’d heard growing up or those experiences…not that anything ever happened, but just being afraid of “ghosts”…guess the good memories really outweigh the family folklore!

  4. your father’s birth place, beach tree, stone near his bedroom window, and more….

    your father shall be proud of you,
    lovely place to grow up, I love open spaces, fresh air, and relaxing atmosphere.
    😉

    • I often wonder about the stories and families behind the homes as well. I could probably write a book about the tales of that house…filled with family history!

  5. Do you know that I could actually FEEL that house, through your photos and words. Especially the part you mentioned about playing school on the flat rock.

    What a WONDERFUL share, dear lady!

    I LOVE to see images of old homes, where people grew up. And I love to hear about the history.

    And I’m diggin’ the fact that you had an outside kitchen, as not to heat up the house during the summer. What a smart idea that was. Especially if the summer was anything like this one.

    Again, thank you for sharing!

    X

    • Thanks, Ron. They didn’t cook in the house in the summer while my dad was young, but while I was growing up they did…the “old kitchen” had been turned into a wrokshop/storage shed.

  6. Trips down memory lane are terrific, you are lucky to be able to actually visit … there are many places I would like to go see again that are gone or changed so much I am afraid they would not bring the warm memories back to me like I would like. Memories are funny things … we tend to recreate them to our liking sometimes … the more we visit them in our minds, the more they are changed. Visiting the actual place helps keep our memories honest and fresh (memories come back to us when we see things).

    How did it make you feel visiting?

    • Emotions are mixed….mostly good memories; I try to let go of negativity. Family dynamics are interesting to say the least, and much has changed through time; even my perception is unlike that of when I was a child.

  7. That’s so AMAZING!! I love how the outdoor kitchen is still there. My grandparents owned a working farm, too, (it’s still running to this day) and all us kids would have a blast exploring, picking pears, grapes, strawberries, blackberries… It’s great to have such memories!

  8. I loved the porches. In fact, I loved everything. The chimney, the tree, the story about your grandfather…

    You have such a way with words and photos. This conjured up memories from my mama and papaw’s home they built during the great depression. The crab apple tree is still there, and I eat from it when I go home to vist my family in Tennessee. And they had an awesome porches too!!

  9. Its a fact that many years ago folks selected their home site relative to a Beech tree, for they are almost always found near a dependable source of water.

    I’ve read a number of your writings (since an Assateague/kayak parallel) and appreciate all that you convey, it’s good – writing feels good – and you must feel great about it all.

    Thanks for letting us ‘drop in.’ Tom, (backshortly.com)

  10. I love old houses, in part because of the memories they carry. Going back almost always carries mixed emotions, I think. How smart of you to ignore the negatives; dwelling on them only amplifies them.

  11. I love these old houses, and everything in them. I really, really do. For me, it’s because I’m first generation in this country, and have no history of my family here. I hunger for it from somewhere, thank you!!!

  12. Wow, incredible! I love all the shots of home and memories you have shared. I could comment the same thing to you, that you commented to me on my blog. The adult perspective is really nice (and smaller).

    Beautiful tree and property. Loved this!

  13. Thanks for the tour and sharing your childhood memories.

    The “old kitchen” concept must have been quite a challenge. Our dog would have mugged us if we had to transport all the good smelling food from building to building.

    Also, my grandparents had pecan trees, and like the walnuts that you recall, they hold special memories for me.

  14. I am always last here with the time difference darn 🙂 🙂 🙂 I so enjoyed reading this and the pictures is just wonderful, took me back many years too. Awesome that it’s still standing…what memories you have!! Thanks for sharing gorgeous girl 🙂 Hugs xx

  15. I really loved this post, so much history and it’s your history. That is so cool! Your so lucky to be able to still have it in your family and to visit it and all its memories. Such sweet childhood memories at that.

    You really got me with those pics of the old weatherbeaten buildings..one of my weaknesses.

  16. I love that little cabin Suzicate- it reminds me of old tales where little people lived inside it 🙂
    As always, thank you for the wonderful pictures!

  17. How fun. I love to do this. To remember the things you used to do at a house or a park.

    This is also great because it can serve as a little snap shot of your family history.

  18. I recently visited “home” and so much has changed since my childhood. I love how you captured the memories of your own home and thought the quote you chose was fitting to describe most people’s experience when they think of home.

  19. Susan….great writing. It is interesting that although you and I are separated by a generation or two, we had so many of the same experiences and memories of the old home place. I was surprised to see that siding has been placed on the house.
    I remember my father taking me there as a boy to go hunting. We stayed in an upstairs bedroom where you could look through the cracks to the outside. There was no fireplace and of course no heat. Your Grandmother (Big Mama) put so many quilts on the bed that I could not turn over. Nearly froze the next morning but will never forget the experience!

  20. What I remember most is standing on that flat rock peeking at Granddaddy reading the newspaper. Brings back a lot of memoirs. I remember walking with Mama listening to her tell about growing up there, making ice cream on the front porch, coming home from school, when we lived up there, and getting one of Big Mama’s biscuits out of the warming oven on the wood stove. Life was so very simple back then, but so very very wonderful. Thanks, Susan. Luv ya cuz

    • We used to play “school” on that rock and peep through the window at Granddaddy…as soon as he got up, we’d fight over who was going to get to sit in the chair by that writing table!And I’ll always remember “jack rock hunting” with your mom.

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