It is gone now but people used to drive by the small white house beside the road just beyond the Calvertville Store each day, and not see it. It was tired and leaning as it tried to rest from the storms of life. The porch had rotted and fallen off. There were large holes in the roof and the windows were all broken out. The small barn, corncrib, chicken house and smokehouse were gone. The old pitcher pump and the cistern pump are gone.
That small, four-room, white house is where my Grampa Van lived. How I loved Grandma Alice. I never knew Grampa Van as he died many years before I was born. My mother never met him either.
Grandma Alice, born around 1875 was his second wife, and they birthed 10 children. Born in the mid-to-late 1840s grandpa was a youth when the Civil War was fought. He married his first wife Polly in 1864 and they had five children. He married Grandma Alice when he was much older. My father was born in 1908 when grandpa was about 63. Dad was 21 and he had two younger brothers in their late teens and a sister about 10 when grandpa passed on.
Grandma was a small lady with an engaging smile and gentle hands. Brother and I used to spend the night with her occasionally, and we were allowed to sleep on the feather bed. What a joy that was to sink down into the down. I mowed grandma's yard with the old reel type mower and she would always insist on paying me. It was a small, insignificant sum by today's standards, but it was a princely sum to a small boy many, many years ago.
My favorite photograph of brother and me and our dad was taken beside grandma's house. It was one of the very few pictures I have of me as a child. My dad is standing between two small, overall-clad boys with hair that looked like an explosion in a mattress factory. When brother and I reached our full growth, dad was the shortest of the three and I am the tallest.
We had many family gatherings at grandma's house. Cousins, aunts and uncles would gather to visit and eat together. After dinner, you understand that country people ate dinner at noon and supper in the evening, the cousins would play for hours around the barn and chicken house, drink water from the pitcher pump, sit in the porch swing and admire grandma's garden.
When I pass the place where that little house used to sit the years turn back and I see grandma sitting in the porch swing with Peanuts her cat; the very swing that my brother and I tried to swing so high that we hit the house. I hear the old-fashioned clock ticking on the mantle and her singing canary and her gentle laugh. I see my strong and virile uncles and aunts as they spent the summer afternoon visiting under the trees and on the porch. I hear the happy laughter of grandchildren playing in the yard -- one of which was me.
Larry grew up north of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School and Indiana State University. He can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or (317) 839-7656. Write him at 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Ind., 46168. He has written five books.