The right half of an old farm house.
It’s the place where I grew up.
The 2-story half on the left always seemed a bit mysterious to us.
The basement flooded every time it rained and if the 4-foot snowbanks melted too fast.
People stopped by regularly to take pictures, claiming Mel Gibson had lived there as a child. (I have never been able to prove or disprove this fact. He did live in upstate New York for a time.) The trees to the left tower over a ‘creek’, more accurately known as a small trickle of water where we were forbidden to go from time to time out of a perhaps irrational abject fear of a snapping turtle infestation. I never actually saw one.
This shot is from the street. Across the street is a hayfield that was owned by Mr. Cleveland. His farm was on the other side of the forbidden, snapping turtle plagued creek bed. 2 times or so every summer, he hired a man to mow, rake, and bale the hay in the field. We named him Jonas. Jonas’ farm was actually down the road a bit, right before the bridge one crossed on the way to the Post Office. We would walk there at times on an errand and stop to chat with Mr. Bicknell. I’m not entirely certain if he was the Post Master, or just some guy who worked there. He pastored the Presbyterian church next to the Post Office.
Back to Jonas. We never actually met him. We weren’t allowed to. He was a stranger and for all we knew he probably watched TV! We waved to him every summer for years. One summer, he had a woman working with him. She mowed hay in a sports bra. She definitely wasn’t saved! We called her Joan.
Up the hill to the right lived Mr. Haus, our landlord. He said things like, “Nuts, nuts, nuts! This tractor doesn’t work!” and “For crying out loud!” He had a younger brother named Red and a dog named Democracy who frightened the poo out of us for absolutely no reason other than that she was inordinately friendly. I think she was a yellow lab. One day, a dog who may or may not have been part rottweiler started running around with Democracy. We called him Fritz. Fritz killed a cat in the tree next to the mailbox across the street beside Jonas’ hayfield. From that day forth, we judged Fritz as unworthy of heaven, and therefore would go straight to hell when he died.
The hill upon which Mr. Haus lived was beautiful, covered in waving green grass which my oldest brother, David, would mow it and ‘make hay’ with the lawn mower, make the rest of us rake it, and ‘bale’ it for use as mulch the next year. During the winter, however, you have never experienced a more amazing sledding hill. We had a handful of those ancient radio flyer sleds that old people find in the back of their attic or garage, and a 6-foot toboggan.
Our washing machine was out of commission for a while. So Mr. Haus kindly let us use the washers in the apartment complex on the hill that his brother Red owned. So everyday, 2 or 3 of us would pile the carefully sorted loads of laundry on the toboggan and trudge up the hill to the ‘laundromat’ as we dubbed it. Being homeschooled, we would bust out our books and complete lessons at the counters in between loads of laundry. Once, while flying down the slope after a hard day’s work, the bag of clean red laundry burst open and spread clothing all over the hill. At least they were easy to locate, standing out in such sharp relief from the snow. But, no matter. They were going home to dry on a rack in front of the woodstove, so no harm was done.
I haven’t been back since we moved at the age of 13.
My biological parents moved us to southern VA and shortly after this, all 7 of us siblings either moved out, were placed in foster care, or were adopted.
That old farmhouse may have been the house that built me, but this: