Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Family Headquarters

            From the street, it looks like an ordinary, 40 year old mobile home with a house roof, a large porch, and a rock foundation. The uninformed observer would not suspect the details that make this location a treasure trove of great stories.

          Just behind the double gate that leads to the back yard is a very small fence that is completely useless, but at the same time legendary. Once a connector between the old gate and the side of the house, it stands four feet tall and less than two feet wide, with a metal post firmly set in concrete on each side. A friend who is a consummate story-teller remembers this piece of chain link each time he sees any member of our family.  What sort of dog, he wonders, would be small enough to stand behind the fence, and well trained enough to stay there, without any means of containment. More entertaining than any story this likable guy could tell is the enjoyment he gets out of that silly fence.    

In the front yard a very large flower bed constructed from railroad ties holds white rock, a flagpole, and a soda parlor style chair made of painted iron reinforcement bar. Decorated with artificial flowers at the beginning of each season, the whole thing conceals a massive stump that marks the spot where a huge pine tree once stood. The flag flies proudly, and along with a yellow ribbon tied to a nearby tree, it portrays the love of country that lived in the heart of the latest occupant of the house. At various times over the years, this display was accompanied by large signs, stating displeasure over the way the government was handling current affairs. On the porch, a lighted cross burned twenty-four seven, leaving no doubt about the priorities of the family.

           Inside the fence that goes all the way around the yard, canines of all shapes and sizes have chased squirrels and provided a noisy welcome to all who ventured in. A very fertile garden spot in the back corner is now their final resting place.

          Three sheds occupy the lot. One was a fully equipped workshop, where all manner of crafts, furniture, scout projects and science fair entries were constructed. A wood burning stove, numerous bright lights, and a front and back door that enabled a wonderful breeze made this a comfortable hangout for  residents of the male persuasion. When something in the house needed fixing, whatever was required could be easily located here. A second shed made of fiberglass panels housed the family’s clothes dryer. Located here as a safety consideration, it’s distance from the washing machine in the kitchen made for some exciting back and forths on bad weather days. The third building is larger and sturdier than many homes, and housed shelves full of seasonal items, from Christmas decorations to ice chests and camp stoves.

          Inside, the memories speak with a clearer voice. The layout has always seemed a little more spacious than a single-wide mobile home, and the addition of a family room with a rock hearth along one side makes it truly unique and welcoming. The wide opening into the room was graced with a ramp at one time, when the owner used a motorized scooter to travel around. More than just a convenience, this became a built-in amusement park ride for great-grandchildren. That same room became an oversized bedroom when the family living there outgrew the designated spaces on each end of the house. Heated for most of the years with a wood-burning stove, many warm and happy voices still echo from the wood paneled walls.

          Everywhere you look are improvements added by different members of the family. The son-in-law who had a day job in a synthetic marble plant practiced his trade in the kitchen and both bathrooms over the years. One daughter added phone jacks, and some rowdy grandsons once left a dent in the bedroom door.

          The dining area window has had a bird feeder within view, and it provides a perfect point to contemplate that spacious yard, and the buffer of trees behind it. Somewhere beyond the back fence are more houses, but they are far enough away that you get a good sense of country living with your bacon and eggs each day. Over the kitchen sink, another window has view of a flower box that has been a favorite nesting place for feathered friends. Better than any televised nature program, anyone who remained quiet long enough could witness tiny lives beginning in an up close and personal fashion.  

          At some point in the not so distant future, this property will change hands.  Children who grew up here have families of their own. The handy men that repaired it have their own homes to maintain. Hopefully, another family will move in and make new memories. For one patched together bunch of kids, grands and great grands, this place has served its purpose many times over, and will live in our hearts forever.        





Toni Maturo said...

Amazing, Sister. Love you.

Chris Carlisle said...

About that dent... See, what happened was... He did it.

Chris said...

Great memories from countless friends as well as your treasured family members!