Posted by: Jim E | July 15, 2012

Houses, Homes…Horses And Blizzards…Memories…

It came to me the other day…and when these things “come” to me, I always say to myself, “I should write this down and post it.”…but as is so often, the memory either escapes me or I lose the energy of the thought and then even if I have the memory of it…something is lost and I just put it aside…but this time I will try and write something about houses…Oh, no, not just houses but homes…it’s the people who live in the houses that make it something to remember…and, of course, the memories we have made in or about those houses that make it special…

I won’t talk about all the houses that have played a part of our life but just a few…I remember my Grandparents house on my Dad’s side…Grandma and Grandpa’s house…I don’t think they owned but rented from one of Grandpa’s sisters…they lived downstairs and Aunt Edith lived upstairs…it was called a duplex in those days, probably today too…it was a typical duplex in north Minneapolis, Minnesota (similar to the one in the picture)…it had a basement like most homes there do…(it can get to 20 or 30 below, dontcha know…a little Minnesota-talk there)…the basement helped to keep the floors above warmer…my Grandma could cook and bake…and she made pickles and other such things, they were great…we used to go there for Sunday dinner often, before Grandma died…she died when I was in 6th grade…no good for a wonderful woman, nor for a 6th grader…but before that we went quite often…

We ate well there…she made homemade noodles/ with boiled potatoes and chicken gravy w/lots of chicken (kinda like the picture)…and fresh green beans…and on and on…she was a great cook…I would help her with the noodles…I hope you know what I mean by that meal…soooo good…and that is where I got the saying I always told people around our table…like my Grandpa Elmquist always said, “If you don’t eat those green beans, I’ll be eating them in sandwiches all week.”…now it could have been anything…but mostly vegetables, and I thought for some time that Grandma would make him sandwiches to take to work, if we didn’t eat them…Okay, I finally caught on…slow but not that slow…I still use that around our table today…

Going into that house was something…we lived in a basement house…no running water, no bathroom…electricity and heat but sort of primitive…so I loved going to Grandma’s…we walked up the steps and through the storm door…onto the screened-in porch and then into the house…first was a foyer, with front stairs going to Aunt Edith’s…we never used those stairs…we use the back stairs, more on that later…in the foyer the stairs were to the right…and straight ahead was a french door into the kitchen (that’s where I wanted to go, I smelled all that good stuff cooking)…and to the left were double french doors w/white lace curtains into the living room…but before we go there, in the foyer straight ahead toward the kitchen door, right there on the wall was a picture…I don’t remember everything about it but it was a picture of horses…I think three horses and Grandpa and my Dad used to tell us they were pictures of horses they had when they lived in Canada…my Dad rode one to school everyday…I have no idea what happened to that picture…but found something online that looks something like a young kid would remember…

Now I’m going to put you on hold for a minute…before we go into the duplex any further, or Aunt Edith or the living room and so on…let me bounce ahead about 20 years…the picture of the horses makes my mind jog ahead…in the late 70’s or early 80’s…now married and we lived north of Minneapolis, well, north of Anoka, Minnesota…we had lived there since 1970 and went to a church about 20 miles south of us…we were a bit crazy in those days…but we just didn’t miss a service…some of you will understand what I mean…so even when there was bad weather we went…and, of course, those of you who understand that…would understand that our church never canceled for bad weather…yes, crazy is what I said…and that was in Minnesota, where weather is a large part of a 10:00 news…it can get a bit dicey more than once or twice a winter…so one night, and I don’t know if the “kids” were old enough or aware enough to remember this…but the picture in the foyer of my Grandparents house came alive one winter night…it was snowing and the wind was blowing about 20 mph…so it was hard to see…no one else was crazy enough to be on the road but there I was with Judie and 4 kids, I still can’t believe it…we got near the church but still out in the country…and all of the sudden in front of me where three horses…they had gotten out and were disoriented in the blowing snow…my car lights spooking them even more…there was a white one and two others, one black and one brown…right in front of me on the road, in the headlights and the blowing snow…it was something…I have often wondered if I had a dream…but Judie remembers it too…and in that instant…the horses reared up on their back legs, nostrils flaring and darted off to the right and left…and out of sight…well, talk about a bit of a fright…and I think I even said something to the effect, “We are crazy to be out tonight.”…but in that moment also I thought about that picture in the foyer of my Grandparents house…three horses, in a blizzard, rising up together and racing off…into the night…

So you can see why that picture or any picture of horses reminds me of that duplex and my Grandparents…and Sunday dinner…and those wonderful smells that are still with me today…Grandpa always met us on the porch…and we ran in the foyer…glanced up the stairs and at the picture of the horses and into the kitchen to see Grandma…she was a wonderful woman…my Mom and Dad always had a handle on us so we didn’t cause too much commotion or bother…and we started with tasting everything we could…Grandma love it…my Dad thought we were crazy (and as I have already stated, that followed me into my adulthood)…Sunday dinner was always great…and we ate until we were stuffed…a big table, all set just perfect and us all around it…after dinner, I always wanted to go upstairs to see Aunt Edith…and my Dad and Mom and Grandpa would go a couple of blocks down the street to see Aunt Elizabeth…we couldn’t go there…we might follow them down there but she didn’t want any “kids” to visit…I think she was childless but don’t really remember…but it might explain why she didn’t want kids there…

Instead I went to see Aunt Edith…I followed orders carefully…quietly, up the backstairs, which were at the back corner of the kitchen…through a door and up the stairs…and gently knocked on the door…she always asked who it was…I announced my name…”Come in.”, she said…she would always be sitting in her chair by the window, in her kitchen…we seldom went in her living room…at least until my Mom came up…it was a “quiet” living room…no fooling around…statuary, knickknacks, pictures of the past all around…not a place for a kid…so she always told me to pull up a chair…close so she could hear…she was older than my Grandparents by some years…but she was sharp…gray hair…no, no, silver hair…like my Judie’s hair…she had her Bible right next to her…she read it all the time…and would share things with me…it was a quiet place…she would ask my plans for my life…what I liked and what I didn’t…she would share things from the Bible with me…asked about school, Sunday school and more…and she listened…to a young kid, she listened…a forgotten skill, I’m afraid…asking questions and listening…she was always special to me and I love going up those stairs…there was a smell to her place, it was probably her, I don’t know…a pleasant smell…maybe fragrance would be better…but I loved that smell…I knew it was her place…her house…and I was a infrequent but welcomed and treasured visitor…I miss her today…

The duplex…my Grandma and Grandpa, horses, Sunday dinner…that and all kinds of other memories…

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Responses

  1. What great memories, Jim! Reminds me of my grandfather’s place up in Pennsylvania…always good memories to think back on 🙂


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