Monday, November 30, 2009


I walked around the house snapping pictures, thinking how the house had fallen into such disarray. I felt so sad as I have such fond memories of this house.  As I walked around I thought that it doesn't look as large as I remember.  I glimpse a bit of the old veranda that wound around the outside.  As a child of four or five, I remember playing out here, and it seemed to take forever to walk from one side to the other.

When the house was built, it came with a wide hallway down the middle with the bedrooms on one side, while the kitchen, dinningroom and livingroom were on the other. The hallway allowed wind to blow through and keep it cool during the summer.  In the winter, it was easier to heat the side were the family ate and stayed during the daylight hours.

This was my Grandma and Grandpa Turner's home, my mother's parents.  I remember my Grandpa as being a quiet man.  He sat around whittling.  He never created anything, he'd start in the morning with a stick, he just sat there taking his knife and slowly drawing it along the stick, a shaving would curl than drop.  He'd start again, curl and drop.  By the end of the day, the stick would be gone and on the ground would be a pile of thin wood shavings, beautifully curled so that it looked like a huge bloom on a flower. I would pick up one of the shavings and stare at it.  You remember the old hand cranked pencil sharpeners? As the pencil was sharpened, the wood would come off in a curl.  His shavings were similar.  Before he retired, he worked at a grist mill and a saw mill.  A grist mill is where they ground grain to make flour.

I loved my Grandma.  She was a stocky woman, not fat, just the right size for a Grandma.  She had strong arms, I guess from working in the fields and washing clothes by hand.  We lived with them for a while.  She smiled and laughed a lot.  I remember many days in the fall of riding on her cotton picking sack.  You ever seen a cotton picking sack?  They're about six feet long, with one end completely sewn together and the other end open with a strap attached.  She would place the strap across her head, down to her shoulders.  Once she had picked enough cotton to fill the bag half full, she would let me sit on it pulling me along as she walked down the row, pulling and stuffing.  They would empty the cotton into a small wagon, then unload the wagon onto the porch.  Once there was enough cotton to fill a larger wagon, it would be taken to the gin and sold.  I use to love to lay in the piled cotton, smell it and roll on it.  It smelled so clean and raw, yet be soft and fluffy. I could lay there in the cool of the day, look up at the blue sky and try to find clouds as fluffy as the cotton.  Sometimes the clouds formed objects. My brother and I would lay there guessing what they were.

Grandma and Grandpa had eleven children, with my mother being the youngest. Grandma had my mom when she was forty-one.  I heard my aunts and uncles talk about mom being a surprise.  It had been six years since the last child was born, my Aunt Jazzey. There were twenty-nine years between mom and her oldest sibling.

There were so many secret places and wonderful objects in the house.  On the mantel Grandma had this all clear domed clock, about twelve inches tall.  Inside the dome a dial with a large and small pointer to show the time.  At the bottom of the dial, a gold wheel spun first one way and then the other.  On the hour, a chime sounded, like a tiny bell.

Of course, there was a piano and an old pump organ.  I would sit on the floor pumping the foot pedal so my brother could play, then it would be my turn.

Grandma waxed her floors with melted paraffin, then buffed with a cloth until it glistened like ice. And when there weren't any adults looking, we would run and slide across the floor in our socks. Many a summer day we would sit on the swing hung from the ceiling of the veranda, shucking corn or stringing beans and peas.

At night as we nestled in feather beds, the windows would be open, the chiffon curtain swaying in any breeze they caught.  The moon silver as it shone across the floor or bed. I could hear the crickets and tree frogs. An occasional voice would drift across the hall, a reassuring sound as I drifted off to sleep.

It was March 1955 that the world changed for me.  Grandma became ill and died.  I remember one of my boy cousins teasing me about Grandma dying, making me cry.  Grandpa had to give up the house and move in with my Aunt.  Sometimes on our way to visit him, we'd drive by the old home place to see how it was doing.  Then in 1973, my Grandpa died and we stopped going by to check on the house as it was sold and no longer ours.

Here it is 2007, and the house is abandoned and so empty looking.  Such a sad demise for a formerly loved place.  It seems lonely and wishing for those old days.  Slowly I turn and get in my car, driving away with a glance in my rear view mirror.  In a way, I too wished for those old happy days, with Grandma smiling as she raised her arms in greeting waiting for us to run to her. Then she would wrap those arms around us, giving us a big old hug and showering us with kisses only a Grandma will give.  I signed as the last glimpse of the house disappeared behind a hill.

 Tuesday Morning Writings is a project sponsored by Gaelikaa and Judy Harper.  The words are copyright of Judy Harper.  Gaelikaa's story can be found here.   We have a new addition today, Anu welcome aboard, her story will be found here


Mattenylou said...

Judy, I could picture that house, back in it's day, shiny floors, gentle breezes, swinging on the veranda, even Grandpa's pile of shavings... from your writing. It was sad to see it years later.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

What a wonderful tribute to your grandparents!

I know just how you feel, though--my grandmother's house is in terrible shape right now and makes me feel so sad just driving by it. So many great memories...

Mystery Writing is Murder

sheeza said...

is this a story or is this real...because i found a real relationship attachment in it.


Judy Harper said...

Sheeza-I based some of my memories on this house as my Grandma and Grandpa did live here. There was a glass clock, piano and organ. I don't remember ever spending a night in the house though. I know we did, I just don't remember it. I won't mention any more, leaving a mystery as to what is real and what is created from my imagination. Thanks for your insight though.

Elizabeth-You know what is the most saddening, changes- it's hard to realize that it's just a house. The people that brought it to life have either passed on or grown and living their own lives. Didn't you just love going to your Grandma's house?

Lou-We did love sliding across the floor! With my mom's family being to large, sometimes there would be 50 people gathered for Sunday dinners, birthdays or just visiting. Did you have a Grandma and Grandpa like that? My Grandpa had the light red hair of an Irishman, where he said his family is from.

gaelikaa said...

Evocative and very enjoyable writing. I felt I was there. You brought that house to life again!

Grannymar said...

I remember sliding down the hallway of my Grandmother's house in my sock soles and sinking down into her large feather bed. Thanks Judy for bringing back the memory.

gaelikaa said...

Judy, I'd love to have your comments on mine at

You see, I've attempted something different than the usual family saga. I really respect your views and would love to know what you think!

gaelikaa said...

I posted the pictures for Tuesday Morning.

Helen McGinn said...

Judy, you never fail to amaze me. That was told beautifully but it made my throat catch at something I never had. Beautifully written. I hope you are feeling better?