A Rare Find

My mother loved old homes, and probably passed that down to me. Throw in a little history, maybe some drama about a place, and I’m hooked. Because of those two items, I read a lot of Victoria Holt in my teenage years. I also enjoyed John Jakes, and Eugenia Price for the same reasons. And yes, when I was younger, I read a wide assortment of genres. Usually spending my lunch hour reading in the library rather than eating, if I had the option.

Because of my mother, we were privileged to live in some real beauties over the years. That also meant a lot of restoration projects, and cleaning! I don’t think we ever just lived in a house. And about the time it was fairly decent, and had a good kitchen, we moved. This happened a few times in my memory. That is probably the reasoning behind so many of my own kitchen projects!

So imagine my surprise when a friend from high school, (actually in my sister’s class I believe) shared this link with me a couple days ago.

https://www.facebook.com/ForTheLoveOfOldHouses/posts/3424158457850183

My parents purchased this house the summer of 1978, the year I celebrated my 14th birthday. We had been living in Burlington, Vermont since that January and my parents saw this house on the way through Crown Point, New York. So about August, we began making weekend trips to the house to clean, paint, and get ready for us to move into. Those were long days, but I was so excited! For one thing, I had hated living in Burlington. It was one of the rare times we had moved to a new house in a new neighborhood, and the schools were not great. I won’t even mention how miserable it was to move to Burlington in January! You can let your imagination run wild and it will be on course.

In a previous post of mine, titled All Hallow’s Eve in 2017, I included this:  A gorgeous home built by the town banker in the late 1880’s from what we were told. His name was A.J. Wyman, and he began a banking business in April, 1881 in Crown Point. My parent’s talked with people all over town getting as much information about the house as possible. They were told that the oak staircase in the front of the house was hand-carved and took a year to make, and other interesting facts and trivia. Some they questioned, because you never know how the stories change over the years. Another item that was shared was that nuns had lived in the house for a while. The Catholic Church in Crown Point was just a little ways from the house. A realtor friend of my parents at the time said the house had porcelain sinks, tubs, etc. originally, and they had disappeared from the house during a time of it being rented.

The summer we arrived, the house had been a duplex. The section that had been for the Wyman family when built, the north side, had been done in oak. The south side was done in cherry, and housed the servants. There were pocket doors between the two sections for servants and family to be able to cross discreetly. So these two sections had been closed off to make two homes. My parents used it for one home, opening it back up.

Because of this, there were two kitchens, and three bathrooms at the time we moved in. For some reason, my mother elected to use the south kitchen, which is what you see in the above real estate pictures. I say for some reason, because the other kitchen was rather nice, actual cabinets and counters. But it was modern, and my mother wasn’t into modern too much back then. She even put a wood cookstove in the kitchen we used. It was located on the same wall where you see the stainless range now. My grandfather built a brick wall for the cookstove, and that’s where I learned to lay brick. When we lived there, the kitchen had no cabinets. Just an old porcelain sink. There was a gorgeous butler’s pantry just off this room, all done in cherry. We kept all our kitchen supplies in there. The other kitchen has now been made into a bedroom, the only one on the first floor.

I was amazed, and so very pleased to see that all the woodwork is still intact, and not painted! It was gorgeous, and it still is. I spent many hours with lemon oil polishing it. My father hung the wallpaper that you see in the front foyer, parlor and what was our formal dining room. That included the wallpaper you see going up the stairs and in the upstairs hall. I remember him placing a long board across that rotunda, and hanging that very heavy wallpaper. It’s wonderful to see that it survived all these years! I had noticed that the red-flocked paper in the northwest room we used as a formal dining room is not finished on the west wall. I seem to recall my father running out of wallpaper, and that was not completed. I will have to ask him about that!

My sister and I had the two bedrooms on the north side of the house with the bay windows. Mine was on the west and her room was on the east. One brother had the room next to mine, that is now a bathroom. The room that was a huge bathroom when we lived there is now a bedroom. Another brother had the bedroom across from the bathroom. It is now where you see the baby bed and whicker furniture. A doorway that was installed, and not original to the house leads to a bedroom in the servant’s section of the house that my parents used. In the pictures above, you see a really pretty bathroom with burgundy colors and an old toilet. This was where the cistern for the house was located, and it was gigantic! That was all that was in that room. The bathroom my father used was the bedroom you now see at the end of the hall. The bedroom across from there has a daybed in it if I remember correctly. When we lived there, the walls in the servant’s quarters were pretty bad. It’s nice to see that they have been updated…but for my taste I would have gone with something not so dark, and that complemented that cherry woodwork a little better.

The large room at the back of the house had been the woodshed. It was pretty rough when we lived there. We used it for a family room, and I had a sleep-over with many friends in that room! The Christmas we were there, we had a huge Christmas tree, and my father anchored it to the supports in the ceiling. The room is nice now, and very cozy-looking. Not to mention the added bathroom that was once my mother’s laundry room. You entered it through where the washer and dryer combo is in the kitchen now.

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Some of my friends on the staircase. And I hope they don’t mind me sharing! 😉

The row of pine trees beside the house on the east side were planted by my parents. My mother would be thrilled to know they grew to be so big! I was surprised to see how very much the house is blanketed by trees. It seemed rather open to me back in the ’70’s. My brother had a horse and a pony that had stalls in the barn, and a corral behind the barn. We kept rabbits there as well. A very large garden area was to the west of the barn. My father grew lots of potatoes that second summer we lived there. He stored them in that cavernous basement beneath the house. It was a terrible thing to hear my mother ask for wood for the stove or potatoes. That meant a trip to that dungeon, and that is exactly what it looked like! I can still remember the damp coal and heating oil smells from all the years before us.

Memories! Mine seem even more sentimental now. My mother is in a nursing home. A small room with very little of the items that she at one time enjoyed having surround her. She does have memories of the Crown Point home, and other homes she enjoyed fixing up and decorating. She often mentions all the work they took to maintain! Slowly, her material items are being given out to family members, and I hope they come to love them as she did.

I suppose this post is more for me than anyone else. A record of my thoughts when I was looking through the pictures that Allison shared with me. I have good memories of my school years in Crown Point. My favorite teachers were there, and I still have many friends that I stay in touch with through social media. Someday…it would be nice to return…preferably with my siblings, and remember the good times.

Not just the bad.

Below is the house our first Christmas. Isn’t it beautiful?

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Main Street – Crown Point, New York, taken Thanksgiving Day 1978

Easter Memories

Easter Sunday is approaching quickly. Here in Kansas we were experiencing sub-zero temperatures just a couple weeks ago. The past few days have been in the ’70’s. Now, another storm is approaching, promising lots of snow in some areas.

Spring…a season of new life, expectations, and hope.

So many of my posts are reflecting back on my life and thoughts. Easter Sunday was another day I looked forward to as a child. Yes, I understood that we were celebrating and rejoicing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But the bigger picture for me at that time was a new Easter dress and decorating eggs. Remember…I was a child, and I thought as a child.

I have happy memories from those Saturday afternoons of dipping eggs. I don’t think we ever missed an Easter-decorating-eggs-day. Little cups of vinegar, the tablets melting into pools of color. The wire holder that was to help scoop the colored eggs. Always difficult for little hands to manage. But little fingers worked well. I think every child in Sunday school the next day had colored fingers! When the wraps came out in the 1970’s, I was thrilled. We could take our decorating to a whole new level.

My father always hid our Easter baskets first thing on Easter morning. We have pictures of us, proudly displaying our baskets. Our hair a mess from sleeping, mine usually in curlers. Those were the days when everyone bought a new dress for Easter Sunday, and you proudly marched off to church in it. When I was small, the outfit still included a new hat, shoes, white gloves, and a tiny purse. Of course more pictures were taken. And now they are included in photo history. A time when life was more simple, and it seems joy was taken in the little things.

Picture of my brother, Kreston, sister, Jennifer, and me on Easter Sunday, I think 1968?

Our youngest asked if we could decorate eggs this year. She’s 16, and very talented in the drawing, and painting areas. For me now, I don’t want to take the time to decorate something I’m going to crack, peel the shell off and eat. Because now I think like an old woman. No disrespect intended, and there is nothing wrong with decorating eggs. But it would be very special to have some pretty eggs for Easter Sunday.

I hope this post brought back your own special memories. The holidays are a time to reflect on those days…and that is part of making them special. Happy egg-decorating!

Those Precious Memories

When in doubt, I go to Jim Reeves and his melodious voice.

Our memories mean more and more to us as we grow older. I see this every day. It amazes me what the mind can recall. I pray your memories are indeed precious and beautiful this Sunday morning. Have a wonderful week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMGtWkJgdIM

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Friday Trivia – Our Wedding!

Today, my husband and I are celebrating thirty-three years of marriage. Everyone says it…but where have all those years gone? Today’s trivia is about me and our wedding. I’ve included some pictures of the day. Of course, if you’ve known me for a while, you’ll have the answers. If you’ve read any of my books, or my posts on here, you should be able to answer them. If not, then you will know me better. To make it a bit easier, I will make this one multiple choice. (The answers will be in red.)

  1. What was my maiden name?
    1. Babcock
    2. Johnson
    3. Kelsey
  2. What year were my husband and I married?
    1. 1983
    2. 1980
    3. 1984
  3. Where was the tiny town we were married located?
    1. Vermont
    2. Texas
    3. New York
  4. Where was our wedding reception held?
    1. Our church
    2. My parent’s home
    3. A nearby park
  5. How old was I when I married?
    1. 21
    2. 19
    3. 23
  6. Where did we go for our honeymoon?
    1. The Poconos
    2. The Outer Banks
    3. Schroon Lake
  7. How long was our engagement?
    1. About 5 weeks
    2. About 6 months
    3. 1 year
  8. Was it cold the day of our wedding?
    1. Yes, unseasonably cold
    2. No, unseasonably hot

 

1) Johnson
2) 1984
3) New York
4) My parent’s home
5) 19
6) Schroon Lake
7) About 5 weeks
8) No, unseasonably hot

I’ll fill you in on a couple details. My parent’s home was located in Breakabeen, New York. We married at a small church just down the road from them. This picture is of my father and me before we left the house.

October 20, 1984 - Dad and I before the wedding

This is me arriving at the ceremony with my father.

October 20, 1984 - Arriving at the church

It was unseasonably hot that day for upstate New York…eighty degrees! We were married at 5:30 in the evening, and it was still warm. Of course, the next few days in the Lake George and Schroon Lake areas were back to normal October weather. Cold and rainy! This was taken after the ceremony.

October 20, 1984 - after ceremony - Breakabeen, New York

And of course we have to include a picture of the cake. It was absolutely beautiful, as well as very yummy. It was a white cake with a raspberry filling to match my colors of red and white. The lady that made this cake made many over the years for us and they were always delicious!

October 20, 1984 - reception

I love this picture! It has always been one of my favorites. Please forgive the quality of the photos. Thirty-plus years, and taking them with my phone from our wedding album. Some are a bit shiny and difficult to see. I’ve enjoyed posting this one. It’s given me many reminders of that day…a wonderful day in my life. Here’s a last one of me taken at my parent’s house, before we left for the ceremony.

October 20, 1984 - before the wedding

It is a bit difficult to see, but I like it because it seems to reflect the years to come. A moment frozen in time. Happy Anniversary, George! Thank you for all those years!

 

 

Be Thou My Vision

I am missing our children this morning. Missing the days when we all attended church together on a Sunday morning. Missing the days when we sung together, lifting our voices…usually in song! 😉

This song was one our children sung the day my husband was ordained at our church. They did a beautiful job, our son on the guitar, daughters harmonizing with him. The words were fitting for that service.

I made a copy of the song from the hymnal, and used a setting to make the paper look ‘old’. I then enlarged the words,

Be Thou My Wisdom and Thou My True Word.

Still Be My Vision, O Ruler of All. 

They are printed over the top of the music. This was hung in my husband’s office at the church, and now is where I can see it everyday, in my office at home. Seasons of our lives. I pray He is still my wisdom, my true word, my vision and Ruler of all.

This particular arrangement is also special because the woman in it is playing a Chickering piano. You don’t see very many of those. My upright is a Chickering and around 100 years old. My mother learned to play the piano on it, and she became an excellent pianist.

Have a beautiful Sunday!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihJAJA4ibEs

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The Art of Eating

At one time, it was almost a sin to put a pan of any sort on the table. Back in the past, families sat down to three meals a day, at a table that was set with dishes, glasses and cloth napkins. And strangely enough, I can remember this!

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My maternal grandparents still adhered to these rules when I was a child. Every meal consisted of preparation, table setting, and then cleaning up. That included washing dishes at the sink, not loading them into a dish washer. And I don’t recall this being a huge trial.

Sunday dinners were spent at my grandparent’s house in Denver. We would leave church and head over, the adults talking, the children playing outside on nice days, the basement or back bedrooms when not so nice out. The smell of a well-done roast would drift through the house, causing your mouth to water. There were almost always potatoes of some sort served, and gravy was liquid gold. It was carried in a little gravy boat, small ladle dipped inside, the matching plate beneath to catch any spills. Without fail there was a stack of bread upon a plate and some sort of vegetable.

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We ate on Currier and Ives plates purchased through the grocery store over time. I loved those plates and requested them when I was all grown up. I have them now, and they make me smile.

Of course dinner was finished with dessert. Sometimes we would have ice cream, the carton opened and the frozen goodness sliced. No scoop needed. My grandmother was a great baker at one time, winning ribbons for her peach cobbler and pies. I’ve never been able to find a recipe to match that peach cobbler, and for some reason, hers has vanished. Just like those long-ago meals.

Angel Food cake was another favorite. Always served with frozen strawberries from a cardboard can, a slice of vanilla ice cream on top. Sometimes my grandfather would get really adventurous, and we had the whipping cream in a can. I think he had more fun spraying it than we did!

When I was a child, I dreaded the clean-up process just as I’m sure all children did. But happy memories is what  comes to mind. It was an opportunity to talk with my grandparents. I always dried while they washed in the plastic dish pan, rinsed in the sink-full of scalding hot water, and set the dishes to drain in the matching drainer. Glasses were always washed first, then the plates and silverware. Pots and pans finished up the job. This is the same routine I still use today.

I think of all of the above as the art of eating. In our everyday homes, I think that art is lost, along with suits and dresses for church, and family drives through the countryside on a summer evening. So many things that were once slow and enjoyed, an experience to be remembered.

Yes, the Sunday came when the suggestion was made to get McDonald hamburgers. A franchise had opened near my grandparent’s home. I was nearing my teens by that time. My grandmother made her Waldorf Salad to accompany it. I can still see her standing there, slicing apples into the bowl with her paring knife. I was amazed at her technique that day, and she showed me how to hold the apple in my hand and slice it without a cutting board.  She wore an apron over her Sunday dress, the afternoon sunlight shining through the large window and splashing on the kitchen table. The blue and white plates marched around on the tablecloth, folding chairs situated for additional seating. Even if you had a hamburger, you still needed a vegetable, and a proper plate to eat it on.

And I’m glad.