Monday, October 01, 2007
A Birthday and an Anniversary Celebration
What a weekend!
Friday was my youngest son's birthday. Steven was born ten years ago at home. He had a mess of black hair when he was born, but two short years later, he had a bright mop of blonde. On Friday afternoon, when he arrived home from school, we quickly opened presents and hit the road. We were heading down to Ste. Genevieve, Missouri to celebrate my parent's 60th anniversary the next day.
On Saturday morning, we stopped at my cousin's house to pick up my parents. We planned an entire day of touring Ste. Genevieve and seeing several family homes. My parents had no clue that we had planned a big celebration that night. They thought we were all going to my cousin's retirement party.
My dad had arranged for us to meet Delores and Earl, my mom's cousins, and Francis Bauman who owned the land where my great-grandparent's home was located. We were deep into the country, traveling down a rough, gravel road. Our first stop was at a small pond. My dad regaled us with a story of how he tossed dynamite into the pond one day and they gathered the fish that rose to the surface.
We stopped at a tree with large green globe-like balls. My mom explained that it was a walnut tree. The immature green husk emits a yellow dye which turns black and is difficult to remove. Mom shared a story about someone rubbing the walnut fruit on a stomach and ending up with black dye all over.
Traveling much further down the dusty road, we came upon the house. Walking carefully through the weeds with an eye out for copperheads, we peered through an open door. The floor had sagged through and broken boards were everywhere. It wasn't safe to walk inside, so I simply poked my camera through the doors and took as many pictures as I could. Two broken rocking chairs, a moonshine bottle and an old stove were all that remained in the house. If you look carefully at the picture, you can see the original wallpaper left on the walls. My Dad's mother was born in this house along with seven siblings. One by one, they caught tuberculosis, and one by one, they passed away. My grandmother, married at that time, was the only survivor and she raised her sister's two children along with my father and his three siblings.
Seeing the house was an eye-opener for my kids. "What did they do all day back then?" my daughter asked. My parents explained what life was like many years ago. As impatient as they were about driving down the winding gravel road, I reminded them that their great-grandmother had to walk that same road or hitch up the wagon to travel to town. The idea that there were no cars to hop into was something they hadn't really thought about until faced with a house that was over 100 years old.
Left to right: Francis, my parents, Delores and Earl.
Stay tuned for more...