Many years ago, I wrote a small book about my memories of growing up in the house up the hollow (or holler as we pronounce it in the county.) It was a collection of stories and memories of the life and times in that old house. We moved there when I was 9 months old in 1957 and Mom and Dad lived there until he passed away in 1999.
My brother bought the old home place from Mom and he still lives there. Though he has made many physical changes, visiting still evokes the memories of that old white frame house of my childhood. When I wrote the little book, I found a picture of the front of the house to use for the cover. There always seemed to be children hanging on the front porch.
This is my son, Chris, and my niece, Cindi. Today is Cindi's 31st birthday so I thought I would post one of the stories from the book for her. My daughter-in-law Jamie designed the cover. Since the house was surrounded by woods on the back side, she chose a very appropriate font for the covers. It reminds me of the sticks and trees to be found in those woods that we spent so much time in.
This was the back cover of the book.
Here is an excerpt from it. I hope you enjoy.
The house up the hollow. It was more than a house. It was our home, our shelter, our refuge. A place of love and family so dear. A place to laugh, a place to live, and a place to love. So many memories live inside her old walls.
I remember winter nights so cold that Mom would hang blankets over the doorways to keep the warmth of the old gas stove in the living room. It was a room that was always cozy and warm. I can picture Mom in the living room with her ironing board. She had sprinkled the clothes with the old plastic water bottle, tied them up in a table-cloth and placed them in the fridge. She would get the bundle out, set up the ironing board and settle us around the TV to watch Pete & Gladys or Hazel while she ironed. We’d pile on the furniture or floor and watch that old black and white.
When Andy came along, we would sometimes sit and fold his diapers while Mom did the ironing. After the chill of the cold winter was gone, we’d open the windows for the cool spring breeze to drift in down the hollow while we listened to birds singing in the old oak tree out front. Red robins in the yard and Easter lilies on the hill next door were a sure sign spring had arrived.
When summer’s heat rolled around, the days were hot. But at night we would all try to sleep close to the windows where we could feel the cool summer night air drifting out of the hollow.
We loved summer. When it would look like rain, we’d go out and act like Indians doing a rain dance, so sure we were responsible for those first fat drops of glistening rain falling from the clouds.
And the storms. Oh, how Dad loved to protect us from the storms. I remember the rules very well. No standing near the storm doors. No watching TV. No talking on the phone. And NO GOING OUTSIDE. We had to scurry to unplug the toaster, the dryer, the TV. Anything that lightning could possibly strike.
There was a big old tree beside mine and Rachel’s bedroom. Dad was so worried that it might get struck by lightning while we slept. So any time it was a bad storm at night, we were woken up and had to move into the middle room floor to protect us should the big tree fall. The humor was in the fact that the tree was so big that, if it had fallen, it would have covered the entire width of the house. For some reason, Dad seemed to worry less if we were in that middle room.
As fall rolled around, Dad would light the pilot light on the old gas stove in the living room. I remember many nights coming home from chilly fall football games; that old house feeling so warm and cozy after the long walk home. Mom would have glazed donuts and hot chocolate with marshmallows waiting for us.
We each grew up and moved away from that old house up the hollow, but our love for her never dimmed. We got married, had kids, and one by one, went back to enjoy cool fall evenings and sunny summer days as we visited with our families and let our children share in the great love found in that old house.
I wonder sometimes if, in the deep of the midnight, does that old house think of us and do her walls weep?
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