The house was little more than a shack if truth be told. It’d been constructed somewhere back in the late 1800s of wood with tarred sand paper shingles. The walls were covered in a hundred years of warped wall paper, buckled and faded with generations of insect life living under it. The floors undulated by time were covered in old linoleum. The windows had a strange sort of ancient plastic like screening with wire run through it, the windows couldn’t be opened, the rooms were always dark, except for electric lamps which were almost always on.
You entered the house through a screened porch. The front door opened right into the living room. The furniture lined the walls, Davenport on the right with an end table with a lamp on it as you entered, easy chairs in front of you with an ancient radio, floor lamp and spittoon and an arch-way that led to the back of the house, a coal-burning pot-bellied stove,another arch-way and an up-right piano faced the Davenport, the TV was next to the front door.
There were no inside doors but one inside the place. Of the two archways, one had a curtain on it and was a bedroom the other, as I said before, led to the back of the house, with the kitchen and another bedroom…if you kept going through the kitchen, you’d have found a back “veranda”, little more than a lean-to actually, which had been added who knows when.
In this veranda there were shelves along one wall full of mason jars of pickled this or that, which no one ever seemed to eat. There was also the “new” inside toilet and shower (here was the only door that didn’t lead outside of the house), it was added in 1960 replacing the outhouse. There was also an old wringer washing machine. Then the the back door.
The two bedrooms … one was where generations of kids had slept, including myself when I came to visit. The other bedroom was the “master” bedroom, where my grandparents slept, big enough for just a dresser, closet and double bed which was just off from the left of the kitchen behind a second pot-bellied stove.
The kitchen was a large elongated rectangle before they curtained-off a part in 1960 for my Aunt. Here she slept in her double bed and had her dressing table and a makes-shift closet. So, it became nearly square-shaped. Here were the second pot-bellied stove, a gas range, refrigerator, a big table surrounded by chairs a buffet and the kitchen sink with its cabinets over and under it. Everything was along the walls except for the table and chairs. The paint work in the kitchen must have been glossy white once upon a time but when I visited it had long since turned a sort of pale yellow.
The house was on a corner, with gravel roads that ran in front and to one side of the house with ditches separating the roads from the house. Out the back door to the left, there was an old sand-box that I loved to play in and a big grassy yard with a huge tree where someone had put up a rope and old tire creating a swing.
Along the yard was the dirt drive-way that led to a dilapidated weathered grey wooden garage. It was full of all a hundred years of stuff, including a bunch of license plates all held together with wire. It had a smell that I’ve never smelt anywhere else again.
A path led off from it to the right. Here was the vegetable garden and if you kept following the path you came to the out-house, a foul-smelling place inside another wooden shack which no one had thought to fill up when they built the new bathroom.
Along the left side of the drive-way there was a high gravelled ditch and embankment, then, the railway tracks. Everytime a train went by the house shook and shivered. The house was on the right side of the tracks…but just.
This was were my mother and her 7 brothers and sisters were raised. The house was demolished in the 80s when my grandparents passed away.
wood and tar papered houses