Friday, October 05, 2007
Touring Ste. Genevieve, Continued
After we left my Great-grandparent's house and my Grandma's house and Mom's farm, we headed over to see my Mom's school. We found the site, but no school. All that's left of the location is the flower garden in the picture above. We headed into downtown and stopped for lunch at Sirro's, a small restaurant located on historic Merchant Street. Ste. Genevieve is known as the first town that was settled west of the Mississippi in the 1700's. You can read more at: Historic Ste. Genevieve.
We stopped at the Church of Ste. Genevieve where my parents got married 60 years ago. It is a beautiful cathedral and quite a large church for a small town.
On the way to the Mississippi river, we passed by the land where my father lived in town as a young boy. The original house was torn down and another house sits in its place.
The Mississippi river is not far from town. A ferry runs across it daily to transport cars and passengers to the Illinois side. In 1993, the river flooded the downtown area and several historic buildings had to be restored.
When my father was a young boy, he swam across the Mississippi with three other boys. One boy did not make it out of the river.
Our next stop was my parent's first home on Linn Drive. Over the years, I heard many stories about life on Linn Drive. My four older siblings were raised in that house. It was just a shell when my parents purchased it and they used an outhouse until my father put in a bathroom.
One day, my Dad decided he was going to add a basement to the house. He rounded up his cousins and friends and began digging under the crawl space. Once the space was large enough to stand in, they added a conveyor to haul the hand-dug dirt to the outside. The day finally came to raise the house and pour concrete. My mom left the house with her sisters--she was too afraid that the house would fall down. When she arrived home, the house was still standing. "I was scared that it would fall in, too!" my Dad chuckled at the memory.
I got out of the van and decided that I would knock on the door and see if we could get a tour of the house. A guy came to the door and I explained that my parents were the original owners of the house. "Your father is Norm Griffard!" he exclaimed.
"You know him?"
"I took over for him when he went on vacation one week," he explained.
A small world in Ste. Genevieve.
We toured the house and my Mom showed me the kitchen cabinets with the original hardware in the kitchen. My father had made those. We went down into the basement. Along the wall was a cement ridge where the old foundation connected with the one my dad added. Here, my Mom explained, was where she stored her canned goods. My Mom is famous for her canning and storing food. I grew up with shelves of homemade canned food and preserves.
After we left the house on Linn drive, we drove over to my Uncle Francis' house and finally my Grandfather's (my Mom's father) house. By this point, it was time to get them back to the hotel and ready for the surprise to follow.
To be continued...