I passed by my grandpa’s farm on the old Springfield/Buffalo road one morning last week.
Of course, it wasn’t really there, and hasn’t been for nigh 30 years. Still, when I drive that stretch of road north of Pleasant View Elementary I see my grandparents’ 19th century two-story farmhouse yet standing at the end of their 100-yard lane. I picture their big porch and Grandma’s flower gardens in front. Grandpa’s chalky blue 1969 Ford pickup truck still sits in the lot between the lane and yard fence, nosed toward the great barn where I once scaled hay bale fortresses and swung from ropes on the old hay fork system, not unlike cinema pirate Errol Flynn.
I remember it as if it were my own home, for indeed, it was. Though I can’t actually remember, I know as a baby I lived with my young parents in the stone chicken house my dad and his brother built. I have a picture of Mom and me in front of it. It wasn’t elegant, but in the post-World War II years at least a roof over their heads. Some years later, when I was in second grade, I lived there again while my grandparents tried living in town.That didn’t last. Grandma didn’t like city life as well as she thought she would.
The old house saw many changes through the years. I recall when they added the front porch and my Aunt Linda put a nail through her foot, as well as the old shed that was out back before they added a back porch. Though you couldn’t see it from the road, their vine-covered root cellar was a daunting temptation for a nosy boy, and a towering oak tree in the yard perfect for a tire swing.
Home to nine siblings — my dad the eldest — the old house saw many additions and improvements from its 19th century inception, but I remember it only from the 1950s on. Not only the house, but the old barn and chicken house, the willow tree over the rock pile in the front field, the rolling pastures falling away from the road — I see them all when I drive by grandpa’s farm, though sometimes it’s not yet daylight.
I know, in truth all I see is gone, replaced by veritable mansions on 5 acre lawns — all gone but Grandma and Grandpa sitting in their metal chairs on the front porch, waiting to see me nose my ’56 Chevy down the lane, walk to the door and be drawn inside by the aroma of Grandma’s rhubarb pie.
Someday, Grandpa, I won’t just be passing by.
Copyright 2024, James E. Hamilton; email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of his works in Ozarks RFD 2010-2015, available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or from the author.
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