Brrrrrr….. The temperatures usually do not get into the teens here in Oregon; however, this year they seem to be getting mighty close. I cannot be this chilly and not think of other cold winters on Neff Road.
In looking back this year, I was struck with a new thought: What was it like when my sisters grew up in that old house? The years that part us in age certainly saw a new era on this lovely farm. So, I went to the sources, my sisters Peggy and June.
Never did I think to ask Mom questions about life in the Johnson household. She had even a bigger gap between she and her siblings than did my sisters and me. How different were their lives than the one she lead?
In this research of the Loxley past, I learned that my parents had lived in three places before my sister June was born. June and I were Neff Road babies. Peggy had been born in the house back the lane next to Newcomer’s Cemetery. At the time that Willard and Ruth moved into the house back the lane, the basement had a dirt floor and coal in a corner for the old stove. There was no electricity nor was there any running water in the house. The old pump sat outside the kitchen on what was later to be the back porch. Mom cooked on an old wood stove. Peggy remembers the old lamps lighting the rooms and baths in an old wash tub.
During the 10 years between Peggy and me and seven between June and me, a first phone was put in when June became ill with rheumatic fever. Progress came slowly and out of necessity. A dirt basement floor was cemented and a furnace put in. A beautiful fireplace was built by Dwight Sebring. A fireplace that would give this family joy for all the years after. New stairs were put in to replace those open to the damp basement. A fruit room replaced a shelf under the stairs. Mom and Dad were raising their daughter in fine ‘new’ home.
By the time I came along, the house was a warm place to live. The kitchen was modern and full of life. I never knew it without a phone and loved when the power went out and Dad went into the backroom to get one of those old kerosene lamps. The basement was my playroom where I skated around the ping pong table. We spent many chilly winter days and nights around Dwight’s lovely fireplace. I seemed to have come along in a different time than that of my sisters.
I feel fortunate that I have asked questions of my sisters. I rather feel like an archeologist clearing off the layers of today seeking the history of yesterday. This is a time of families gathering together. A time of remembering. I hope you will find this a time of asking questions and learning more about the people in your past. Yes, I learned much around that kitchen table when I was a child. It is too bad that I find new questions long after my parents have passed. I thank God for my sisters and the years we have had together. We rejoice in the history we share and, too, a deep love for that family and farm back the lane on Neff Road. Wishing you a season of embracing the past.
Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.