When we moved to the farmhouse, Third grade Age 8
We moved to a small acreage having nineteen acres in Waterloo Iowa when we left Maywood. It was an old farmhouse outside the city limits that needed some work done to it but was a mansion to us. We never had so much room. My Aunt Francis, Mom’s sister bought the house, and they made payments to her and my Uncle Chuck.
ENJOY PART 1 BELOW▼
It was a huge house with a large dining room and front room and a decent size kitchen with one bedroom downstairs, one bathroom on the main floor, four bedrooms were’ upstairs where we slept. One bedroom shared a closet. The other two didn’t have closets. The floors were all wood at the time. They were cold as ice to walk on in the winter, which made it feel like being on an ice-skating rink with no ice skates on. The house wasn’t well insulated and was frigid at night. Mom kept the temperature at sixty-two degrees. We all would take our blankets into the hallway where there was only one register upstairs and huddle by it to keep warm. Often floating a blanket over the heat duct to catch the welcomed warm air.
I was always afraid there was something down there. Probably from all those spooky stories my brothers use to tell. We never had a basement before, and my brothers use to tell stories about finding a dead person in a basement once.
It was a nice huge two-story house that reached up into the sky and it had a creepy basement. I never cared for that basement. It was dark, and clammy with old gray cement blocks and a wooden cellar door that led up to the back porch. I was always afraid there was something down there. Probably from all those spooky stories my brothers use to tell. We never had a basement before, and my brothers use to tell stories about finding a dead person in a basement once. I remember having to go down into the basement to use the washing machine mom had gotten! The stairs would creak like it was going to give way under my feet and at the bottom of the stairs a header board you had to duck under to not hit your head. I would run down the stairs and run like a rabbit back up them. There was only one light working down there and it was always so dark and damp smelling like a swamp. The outside of the house was old white shake siding. The yards were huge like being in a large park. With plenty of room to play.
I loved sharing a room with my older sister Theresa. She was three years older than me which made her eleven at the time we moved. We each had our own beds and a long dresser. I still had that same dresser when I was eighteen yrs. old. She took half and I took the other. My side was always messy and hers nice and neat. We also divided the room up. She cleaned her half, and well, I kind of cleaned mine. The room was bigger than our living space in Maywood and I couldn’t get over having so much room.
We had only one tub, and mom would have us take baths. We shared the same water. Theresa usually got to go first. So, I always got stuck with cold and dirty. Not real dirty, but dirty just the same. But hey, we had an inside tub. We had well water and a septic tank. With no city services. It was a small neighborhood consisting of about eight houses.
We had a lot of chores to do, and my sister Theresa called me a tomboy because I liked being outside doing the chores with the boys, like mowing and pulling weeds in the vegetable garden. I didn’t have chores in Maywood. But now, I did. I helped hang clothes on the clothesline and put them away. I had to keep up with the mess in my room. I was always being told to clean my room as it was always a disaster. I wasn’t organized like my sister Theresa. She always made her bed and mine was tossed together like a salad with stuffed animals everywhere.
We had machine sheds and barns to play in now. We still had horses, and dad bought a couple of pigs and a cow. My older brothers Bobby and Frank would get on the pigs’ backs, hold their ears, and ride the pigs like small, horses. I never tried that, though. It was fun watching them tumble to the ground, nearly stomped on by the pigs. My brother Bobby looked a lot like dad with his wavy black hair and even had his temper. He was always trying new things and wasn’t afraid of anything. He looked more like mom I thought. I remember having rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, and even a couple of peacocks. When they opened their rainbow-eyed tail feathers, it reminded me of a pretty fan made in Japan that my mother used to have in her China hutch. They opened gracefully to display all the colors on a brightly colored, wheel.
Mom had an enormous garden that we helped plant, water, weed, and pick the beans when ready. There were green beans, potatoes, carrots, beets, corn, and peas. We had plenty to do and never were bored, only tired at the end of the day.
We raised chickens, and I helped feed and clean them when it was time to freeze. Once the feet were cut off, we used to play with their claw feet pulling the veins and making the toes move. My dad would chop off their necks and they would jump around on the ground as if still alive. Then we had to dunk them in boiling water and pull the pin feathers out. I also helped Mom clean the bloody sticky guts out of them before freezing. We had a few pigs and, of course, some horses. Dad bought day-old bread loaves for the pigs, and it was still fresh,’ we would get into the big brown paper sacks take some out, and eat it. It was still good! However, if you waited too long, small black bugs would take over the sack, and, then we no longer ate it.
In the winter we played outside, building snow forts, and throwing snowballs. In the summer it was mud ball fights. We took mud, formed it into balls, and let it bake in the sun. They got extremely hard, and if you got hit by one, you sure knew it cause it hurt like being hit with a large hard rock. We also played a lot of outdoor games at night after our chores were done by the yellow pole light in the side yard. Like Hide and Seek, Red Rover, Red Rover, and Captain May I. I could never break through on Red Rover. I was usually the last one picked to be on anyone’s team.
We had an old basketball hoop that we shot baskets in and played Horse. The first one to spell horse by missing the shot lost. My sister, Theresa, and I made friends with the neighbor girls, and they would come down and we played Barbies. I loved shooting marbles with my brothers and playing with cars in the dirt. I did it all. We even dug up black, cold, clammy salamanders and played with them. Back then, we made up our own fun, not like today with all the technology. I loved being outside. We played in the hay in the barns, and there was a long rope swing up in the hayloft we would swing out the open window reaching out beyond the open door into the clear indigo sky.
We had an old swing set and a broken-down wooden merry-go-round. I often jumped off to push the other kids around and then, running, jumped back on. It was always a thrill because I never knew if I would make it back on. An old tire swing tied to an aged, split maple tree that we swung on as well.
My older sister Theresa always got to wash the dishes and I had to dry them. I hated drying. I always got stuck cleaning the bathroom. But after my chores were done, I would go down to my friend Chris’s house and play barbies. Her mom always served us cookies and was nice. Chris became my best friend back then and we became inseparable. She was about two inches taller than me. Skinny to like a stick with long red hair and a freckled face.
We went from having nothing to having everything we thought; it felt like Christmas, every day.
Dad must have got a raise at his job at Sears and Roebucks. He started out as a maintenance man and worked his way up to a Display Manager. Putting together all the fancy displays in their windows and on the floor. You could always hear him whistling at work.
My mother’s father, Grandpa Crossley bought us our first T.V. set as a house- warming gift. Which was exciting. We rarely listened to the radio after that. I finally had hot running water, a room of my own, and T.V. I thought; I was in Heaven. Grandpa also use to stop on Sundays and take us to Sunday school. He was a Deacon in a Mormon church. I remember he told us if we were good, we would get some candy after church. He always kept his word.
I went to Krieg elementary school and my favorite teacher in sixth grade was Mr. Mork. He was missing an arm and at first, I was afraid of him. Then I found out he was a really, nice guy and let us go to his house after school. He lived really, close. I joined the Girl Scouts at age twelve and we went on field trips, had meetings, and I got more badges. We even went camping at camp Ingawanis’ about an hour away.
I remember one time in fifth grade my mom wasn’t at the school to pick me up yet and someone pulled up and told me they were a friend of mom’s, and I was to go with them. But I didn’t know them, so I stayed at school. After I was afraid, I’d be in trouble however mom eventually showed up and said no one else was to pick me up that day. I’m lucky I didn’t go with them that day. It’s hard telling what would have happened to me.
My first boyfriend’s name was Tommy when I was in sixth grade. We called it going out, but we never went anywhere. He was half black and half white. Back then they called him an Oreo, like a cookie. I didn’t like that much. I kissed him once on the slide and that was it. He called me at home once and Dad answered the phone and was angry at me for Tommy calling me. Not only because I was only twelve but because you could tell by his deep voice that he was black. That is when I first realized my dad was prejudiced. When I went to junior high school, he went to a different School, so we lost contact with each other. I still wonder to this day how he is doing.
To be continued…
©Eva Marie Ann Cagley