Thursday, October 4, 2012

Down Memory Lane

     I decided to take a drive along the roads by my childhood home.  I originally wanted to take some pictures of the trees this time of year because they were beautiful, but the trip turned into a drive down memory lane for me.  This summer in Northwestern Kansas was extremely dry.   We are in a drought, and you can tell there is a drought just by how dry the grass is in the pictures.  

     I left my present home in McDonald and headed south on the county road that goes to Brewster.  I took this picture, not because of a memory, but because there just aren't many working windmills left in the country.  I grew up with windmills.  The dead tree is symbolic of many things such as the windmill that have disappeared.

     Several miles south of McDonald stands a graveyard that for many years was totally neglected.  A person wouldn't have known that it ever existed except that the people who now own the land gave up a section of farmland to put up the sign and fence reminding us that there are actually people who were buried there. The owners got the names from the registry in Atwood, Kansas.

     The colors in these trees isn't showing as much as I would like, but they were beautiful.   This is an area close to where my first grade teacher and her two daughters lived.   One daughter still lives in the house.  The girls used to babysit my brother, sister and I on occasion.  Laura told the best stories I've ever heard for children when she was babysitting.   She also helped her mother at school.  

     The roads along the creek were all very much like this road.  I love the way the road approaches the shaded area.

     This is a creek bed.   There was a time that the creeks flowed freely, in fact, often flooded.   Now most of these creeks are dry.   Yes, the drought affects this, but climate change does, too.   And the fact that many people have chosen to irrigate has dropped the level of the water table, leaving us with less water.

     Can you believe that this is actually a bridge?   This is one of the reasons my father sent us to Brewster to school when my sister reached high school.   It wasn't uncommon for floods to wipe out the bridges giving students a wonderful excuse for not making it to school.  We were in Rawlins county, but Dad petitioned into the Brewster district and that is where we went to school.

          I just loved the way this tree branched out, standing all alone in the middle of a pasture.

     Another windmill, this one not in working order.   I think this is the area where my mom used to tell us about a little girl who died from a rattlesnake bite many years ago.

     Somewhere down among these trees was a small lake where we used to go fishing.   I don't know if it's still there.   I don't think so, at least not as a lake.   It might catch some water when it rains.   It was also here that my Grandpa and Grandma Faber, Aunt Dinah, my sister and her family, my brother and his family, my family and my mom and dad went one cold December day to ice skate.  We didn't have ice skates, but we did borrow some from the kind neighbors who lived up the road and owned this land at the time.   We set an old car seat out on the middle of the ice.  Grandpa and Grandma sat there and watched the rest of us "play". We made a fire in front of the car set so we had a place to warm ourselves.  Those of us who didn't have skates just skated in our shoes.  We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and had hot chocolate we brought from home.  Such good times we had as a family.

     This is the sign outside the ranch entrance to the people who loaned us the skates.  I know you can't read the sign very well, but I know well what it says.   Dewey's L. V. Ranch.....If you can't stop in, smile as you go by.   And we always did.

     Just south of the Dewey Homestead I took a picture of this cattle guard.  Much of the land was open range, which means it was not uncommon to have cattle in the road.  The cattle weren't able to walk over the cattle guards.

     Do you see the cave?   I've never been in this cave, but I've always wanted to go there.  The people who own it now have given me permission with a warning to watch out for snakes.  I'm told there is some writing on the walls of the cave as well as smoke from where fires were built inside.   Yes, there were people who once lived there. Maybe temporarily, but they were there.

     As you travel further south, you eventually hit the flat lands.   This is where I grew up, right on the edge of the hills on the creek land to the flat lands where we farmed.  There were hills on three sides of our farm, but looking east, you could see for miles.  Note how dry the milo crop is this year.

     This is approaching our home sweet home.  Most of my childhood was lived here.

       This is the house that I grew up in.   Many changes have taken place.  My brother now owns the house. The A-line roof towards the back was an addition he had built.  There is a basement under the house that he expanded.  This is the front of the house.  Where the door is used to be an open porch.  Well, it was enclosed on 3 sides and open in the front.  I remember when some barn swallows built their next just above our door in this porch.  We watched them make the nest, hatch and raise the babies.  The house was a red tile.  In order to go to the basement, you had to go out the back door, then down the basement.  At some point, Dad built that back porch in so we could enter the basement without going outside.  My Grandpa Hurst built this house for his family.  My dad remembers helping them to dig the basement.  His family were neighbors to my mom's family.  The house only had two bedrooms on the main floor.  Dad made a third bedroom in the basement where Jackie and I shared a room.
     When Mom and Dad got married, they fixed up an old granary as a house and lived there until after my sister was born.  They had to use the bathroom in my Grandparent's house.

     This is a view south of the house.  There is a hilly pasture where Dad kept his cattle.  We had a huge sandpit where we used to have our Easter Egg hunts. It is also where we used to take our toboggan and sleds in the winter.   I loved walking in the pasture, especially to a section where a grouping of rocks stood high above a draw.  I would sit on a section of rocks that was shaped like a chair and dream.  Mom wasn't crazy about us walking among the rocks for fear of rattlesnakes, but I don't think I ever ran into one there.  There was also a smaller sand pit where I remember catching tiny lizards.   I remember one year when we had torrential rains, and the bottom of the draw ran swiftly with water, deep and wide.  We were warned not to go near it because of the danger of how swiftly the water moved.

     West of the house were the outbuildings.  The first building I remember using as a skating rink when we got our roller skates for Christmas.   We also kept our toboggan in this shed along with grain Dad had for the cattle in the feedlot out back.  The next building was the garage.  Last time I looked, you could see the initials I carved in the wood.  The car sat in one part of the garage with all of Dad's shop tools, and the other side held our boat.

      This is only a quarter of a mile or less south of the house.  You can see the small building and if you look really hard, you can see the windmill in the upper left hand corner.  This is where my mother was born.  Mother lived there during the dirty thirties in a small house with, I think, four rooms.  She tells me how Grandma Hurst had to walk to the windmill for water several times a day.  It was uphill all the way back.  She claims that is why Grandma was so strong.

     Down the road just a little further, you find a cemetery.  This is our Faber Family Cemetery where one day I will stay....close to home.

     These are the tombstones that are there now.   The first grave there was my goddaughter and niece, Jennifer Renee Faber who died as a child.  Since then my Grandpa and Grandma Faber, my Aunt Dinah, my cousins John B. and Mike, their dad Joe and my sister-in-law's brother and father have been buried.

     Grandpa and Grandma Faber lived in this house.  My dad and his two sisters were raised here.  It's hard to visit and see the place falling down, but the memories of all the good times will not be forgotten.  Dad's sister Dinah was 3 months younger than me, and we grew up close to being sisters instead of niece and aunt. There were always cousins and family who filled the house with love.  Our long tradition of Christmas Eve started right here.

     Grandpa and Grandma called this the milk house.  Inside it had a sink with a water pump, as well as one in the house when I was young.  There was also a wood burning pot-bellied stove that sat in the middle of the milk house.   Once in a while, Grandpa and Grandma would let Dinah and I build a fire when we were playing.  
     The windmill furnished all the water.   A hose ran from the windmill to a cistern just outside the yard of the house where water was stored.  If the wind didn't blow, you had to be careful about how much water you used, or you would run out.
     Grandma's garden was just behind the milk house and windmill.

I didn't realize what is here until not long ago when my dad told me that the depression in the ground where Grandpa would sometimes burn old branches and where we would target practice with guns was once the ice house.  It was a deep hole dug in the ground.  Dad helped to gather ice, then unload it into the hole where it was covered with hay.  They would have enough ice to last through the summer.

     Once upon a time, this was a beautiful, old barn.  We played in the barn many, many hours, Dinah and all the cousins.  It was quite daring to go into the hayloft and jump out the door onto a pile of hay, or sometimes, just onto the hard dirt.  I remember one time playing in an old car that was stored in the barn when a skunk appeared.  Dinah and I got sprayed terribly.   That's when Grandma brought the little round tub to the yard and washed us outside.

     This was one of the houses I lived in when my children were young.  It belonged to my dad and mom and was several miles from the home place.  I didn't go up close to take a picture because someone else lives there now.   I loved being on the farm again after having lived in towns, Wichita included, for several years.  We had sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, geese, cats and a dog.  I can remember painting the house.  When I was on the lower boards, I would sit in the grass.  We had three baby geese who followed me everywhere.  When I sat on the ground painting, they crawled into my lap.  You can take the girl out of the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the girl.  I would be there still, if I could.

     This was the second school I attended.  I went there from 2nd through 5th grades.  We had one teacher for all 8 grades.  I loved the old country school.  We danced, we played, we learned, sang and put on programs.  A bit of orneriness once in a while came through, too.  Charles had just gotten a chemistry set for Christmas.   He and I stayed in one recess, with the teacher's permission, and played with it.  What we did was burn sulfur until the schoolhouse stunk terribly.  Our teacher, not the best, was deathly afraid we were going to kill everyone, so he opened all the windows, and our recess was extended.

     This is where my first home was.  After Mom and Dad had Jackie, Grandpa John helped Dad to buy a house that stood here.  When my mom saw it, she cried.  Dad and Grandpa fixed it all up for her by plastering the outside and painting and cleaning the inside.  By the time they were finished Mom was pretty happy, but sad to be leaving their little grainery home.  We lived here until Grandpa and Grandma Hurst moved to Colby, then we moved to our other home.  The only thing left here is the plum patch that was south of the house.

     This is where the one room school house was where I attended first grade.  Mrs. Bundy was my teacher and has remained one of my favorite teachers of all time.

     Atwood Lake.  You can see where the boat ramp was.  Now they don't allow any motor boats at all in the lake.  There is no swimming or wading, and to think, I learned to water ski in this lake.  Grandpa John once bought an ampha car.  Such fun it was to drive to Atwood with a friend, approach and drive into the lake without telling them it would float.  And to watch people's reactions watching us on the banks was also great fun.  Grandpa never should have sold that ampha car.

     This is a different view of the lake.  It isn't a large lake, but it isn't as small as the boat ramp picture makes it seem, either.  
     Across the lake, you can see a building.  When my mother stayed in Atwood as a child, that building was the swimming house.  Kids changed into their swimming suits there and swam just outside the building.  Now no one can swim.

     This is what used to be the west side of the lake.   Because of water shortage, it is mostly dry anymore.  They also built a dam like structure between this part and the east side.  The east side was loosing water, so the city of Atwood dried it up, sealed it, and now, hopefully, the water will stay.   This lake was a man made lake, built by the WPA to help lift us out of the depression by giving men work so they could take care of their families.  It was one of many projects the government had.

       This is the spillway for the lake.  When the lake fills completely up, the water would run over this section of road to the other side.  As a child and young adult, it was usually letting some water through.  I thought it was great fun for Dad to drive through the water.  I have seen it overflow in recent years, but very seldom.

The  Tastee Freeze:   The swimming pool was across the street from this little ice cream place.   We would walk from my Great Grandma Hurst's house to the pool.  After swimming, Mom gave us enough money to buy an ice cream cone.   The other place in Atwood I will never forget was a a little snack shack on highway 36, close to the lake.   They had green rivers.  When we went fishing and boating, either in Trenton or Atwood, we would stop to eat there before going home.

     This is the house my Great Grandma Hurst lived in.   Lots of changes here, too.  New siding, new windows, all fixed up.  I'm happy that someone is taking such good care of it.  My mom lived with Great Grandma when she attended school in Atwood.  I loved to visit her.  She was quite a character.  I have a picture of her in her 80's riding a bike.  Mom said she was known to chase Mom's boyfriends off with a broom stick.  She made beautiful quilts and had loads of old buttons that I loved to look at.  I remember the bathroom being in a building out back rather than in the house.

Last on my list for this memory trip is the Jayhawk Theater.  The front is pretty much the same.  The inside has been totally remodeled   Although I haven't seen it since the remodeling, I understand that they kept it as "original" as they could, and shows are still being watched to this day.
     I know.   A lot of pictures, a lot of talk, but where else could I put all this stuff.  Really, I hope you enjoyed the blog.   I know I did.