I have come to realize that I don't know a lot about my dad's childhood. He doesn't talk a lot about his home life. I think some of this stems from the fact that his dad died tragically when he was 14. I think some of it stems from the fact that his mother was damaged as a little girl by her stepfather. I think some of it stems from the fact that he was a little wild and doesn't want his sons or grandsons following in his footsteps. He has some great memories, if only I can get to them. This is what I learned this week.
He grew up on a 10 acre farm. Though his father worked for the highway department, he also raised a few animals and planted hay as well as a huge garden and orchard. Dad's dad and mom had been raised in Buffalo and were the first to move to the country. The garden, which was about 100 yds by 50 yds, became a community family garden. All of the aunts, uncles and cousins would travel out to their farm to help weed, harvest and then bottle the produce. The women worked hard while the men sat around chewing the fat. Their basement was lined with shelves filled with the fruits of their hard labors.
There were usually a pig or two, chickens, a steer and a milk cow. The milk cow's name was Girlie. One day, the cow got out of her enclosure without the knowledge of dad's family. A neighbor saw her and tried to catch her. He spent hours chasing her around the fields without any success. Finally, he went up to the house, knocked on the door and said, "Jack, your cow is out and I just can't get her back to your barn." My grandpa smiled, walked out in the yard and yelled, "Girlie! Come here, Girlie!" She lifted her head, looked at him and trotted right back into the barn where he shut her into her stall.
There was a weasel that wreaked havoc in the chicken coop. It also used to attack the litters of kittens that the farm cats had every year. What kittens escaped the weasel were given away. Dad used to put all of the kittens together and the mama cats would take care of each other's offspring.
When dad went off to college, his mom sold the farm. She lived in a single wide trailer while I was a little girl. Later, she moved into an apartment in a retirement center. My parents would drive by "the old stomping grounds" but it didn't sink in until recently that dad actually lived on a real, albeit small scale, farm. I can't wait to find out more.
Are there stories in your family that have yet to be recorded? The new year is coming, with all of those resolutions yet to be made. Why not make a resolution to capture some of those memories before they are gone forever? Tweet