A cousin just posted this photo of my grandparents home this morning. There was discussion of what “type” of design this house would be. I believe the consensus was a dog trot or breezeway design where the dog trot or breezeway was eventually closed in. I began typing a description of the house on the post. It grew from a description of a structure to memories to a blog post. It moved from describing a house to describing a home. It moved from architecture to joyful emotions. In fact, I created an entirely new design name for this home; the HOGM Design; Home Of Great Memories.
I thank my cousin, Dana Cash for posting this photo. She mentioned how she would like to recreate this house. It encouraged me to write something for my journal. I want my kids and grandkids to know about this HOGM.
This photo inspired so many memories. Sandy and I have also thought about recreating this house. We just talked about the house last week.
I loved the wide breezeway. It was my favorite part. There was room for kids to run and play and not disturb the adults. It accommodated furniture and a large deep freeze. Some know this as a freezer. This breezeway ran nearly perfectly west to east from front to back. It ended at a door that led to a screened in “sleeping porch” at the back of the home.
The sleeping porch was home to another dining table for extra guests or the kids, a wringer washer, a large sink and counter with shelves below that were covered by curtains. Of course it had a bed. It had a great breeze when both doors were open in the breezeway. The front door had a screen door to keep bugs out. This back porch also produced some of the best two kid homemade ice cream. I call it two kid because one kid was the sitter, one was the cranker and then you switched. I never remember an adult sitting or cranking. I think the electric ice cream maker and parents may have produced a generation of too many sitters and not enough crankers. I think this was my earliest example of sowing and reaping, planting and harvesting or reaping the rewards of your efforts.
Two kid ice cream was also an early lesson in problem solving. If your butt got cold, you got another Grit, (which I sold, delivered and pocketed a nickel for each sale) or Hope Star newspaper as insulation for the posterior.
On the right of the breezeway was a den and kitchen. They were separated by a door that was only closed to contain the heat in the den later in the evening. The kitchen had two dining tables. One large and one smaller. I’m not sure that 16 people couldn’t sit around those tables. If the weather was nice, the back porch overflow came in to play. If it was too cold, out came the TV trays and in came the porch chairs. I’ve never heard or spoken the three words, “I’m still hungry” under that roof.
On the left were four bedrooms with a bathroom in the middle. One of the bedrooms was where I slept with Papaw when I was young. He told me “bear stories right before he went to sleep. Notice I said “he went to sleep.” I’ve shared these bear stories with my kids and grandkids. So far, none have requested a safe space.
There were a few gas heaters through the house. Luckily, one was in the bath room. Whoever used the bathroom first had to light the heater. My dad and I replaced the water cooler in the den with a window air conditioner in my grandmother’s later years.
The concrete posts on the front porch were worn smooth by the propping of feet as you leaned back in your chair. Two things I remember about those feet. I don’t remember the adult ladies propping their feet up. It might have not been ladylike back then. Most of the adult men’s feet propped there were in boots. They were not the fancy, polished “wish I was a cowboy” boots; they were work boots.
Sadly, today, those posts would be used as we propped up our feet while scanning our phones or tablets. Good old fashioned conversation, dialog and storytelling would be missed. The WPH, Words Per Hour, have been greatly reduced by technology.
The front porch was also where millions of bushels of peas and beans were shelled. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of fake news. It might have been a few shy of millions, but not many.
The front yard had the best St. Augustine grass. It was great for bare feet or grounding as they call it now. It also had very few stickers. The back yard had many shade trees. Two were great for climbing. I just had a horrible thought; I don’t know if my kids or grandkids have ever climbed a tree.
Behind the backyard, was the chicken house. One of my daily chores was gathering eggs in the morning. Sometimes they came from the chicken house and went directly to the skillet. Granny said those eggs will be passed twice in a day. After she explained that one to me the first time, it became funny.
Across the road was a barn with a stall for the corn sheller. I’ve spent countless hours in that stall playing or shelling corn. The room was also where my Granny’s pet deer, Jenny, was kept during deer season. There was once a photo in the local paper of Jenny and our collie, Sport, in this house by the Christmas tree.
This barn also had a loft. I spent countless hours there as a kid. You could build a great hay house in the colder months. It was just a great place to play. I think the art of “playing” has disappeared. Also, my love of a loft waned a bit when I started hauling square hay at age 13.
To the south of the house was always a huge garden. I remember it being plowed by my Papaw with a mule. I still remember the Gee and Haw commands to the mule for right and left. Papaw said the easiest way to remember is right has a G in it. Until I moved from home at 19, I don’t remember ever not “working a garden.” I remember the land also producing cotton and peanuts.
The place had a few Catawba trees. These were great places to get a few Catawba worms to fish on one of the two ponds. If there were no Catawba worms, there was always that board on the ground by the chicken house. You could always lift the board and with one shovel full, gather enough worms for a afternoon of fishing.
Sometimes I would walk to the pond. Sometimes I would go horseback. Sometimes Granny would drive me in the truck and we both fished. Fishing was done with cane poles back then. Normally, when I tired of fishing, I stripped to my underwear and went swimming.
When I think of the truck, my grandparents never had two vehicles. Papaw worked at a plant and carpooled from six miles down the dirt road. Every morning during the week, I had breakfast with my grandparents and rode to Fulton to meet the carpool by 7am. Every afternoon, we had to pick up Papaw by 5pm, so chores, fishing and playing had to be completed before this daily trip. I don’t remember this ever as an inconvenience. It was just part of life. They had to have a truck because when they wanted to sell a cow or calf, sideboards were put on the truck. The cow or calf was loaded and hauled to the sale barn in Hope.
By the time I was 10, I had hiked every acre of this place by myself. I was armed with my pocket knife, a hunting knife, a boy scout hatchet and a plastic Daniel Boone flintlock rifle. Many times I’ve made homemade bows and arrows. I have dug foxholes and probably cut my grandparent’s timber sales by 10% because of the number of pine saplings I cut to build a lean to in different parts of the place.
I can’t imagine allowing my young grandkids to roam these woods at 8-9 years old. I know my parents and grandparents loved me just as much as I love my kids and grandkids. I just don’t think they worried as much years ago. I think media and the news has caused much of that.
Sometimes I would saddle up Raider or Tony to ride through the place. If I was in a hurry, I would skip the saddle part.
I’ve flown homemade kites with tails of old sheets while laying in the field to the west. I let the kite fly while tied to my foot while I made shapes of the clouds with a stem of grass hanging from my mouth.
Last week during spring break, my favorite youngest grandson and I flew a store bought kite across the road from that field. I told him my story about tying the string to my foot. I told him sometimes I would go to sleep, a big wind would come up and I would wake up a half mile down or up the road depending on the direction of the wind. He’s been around me enough to not buy this story but I have two more granddaughters coming along. I’ll catch them a little younger.
Wow! This all came from a photo. I’ve always heard “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This picture was worth over 1900 words to me. I hope you have stuck with me.
A lyric in one of my songs, “What Are They Leaving With?” is “Do they have a loving home?” This was a loving second or third home to me for many years.
Now, to break down my thought of recreating this house. Today, as I typed this memory, as tears began streaming down my face, it hit me. I realized, it has already been recreated. In fact it’s been recreated many times. It was recreated when Thomas and Virginia Gilbert had Greg and Teresa in Hooks, Texas. It was recreated when our family of four moved less than two miles down the road from the home I’ve just described.
It was recreated when Sandy and I married and moved into our 14 x 65 mobile home and later rented the Tyler home at Cross Roads.
It was recreated when Amber joined us in Blytheville, Autumn joined us in Fayetteville and we all four moved to North Little Rock. It was recreated when Sandy and I moved back to the farm. It’s been recreated by my sister, Teresa and her family.
It’s been recreated by Amber and Keith, Autumn and Adam and their families. I hope the love and memories will continue to be recreated through many generations.
I know it will be recreated wherever I end up. Who knows, I might even recreate the structure someday but that is secondary to the loving home environment.
I urge you to recreate this home. Not necessarily the design or structure, but the HOGM, the Home Of Great Memories. In fact, many of the problems in this country could be solved by recreating the home in the photo.
Thanks to Buddy and Tommie Gilbert for creating what we can all recreate,