Her house was a big farm house on a large farm. All of the rooms were big with high ceilings except for the kitchen. It was about eight foot by eight foot with a big kitchen sink and a Hoosier cupboard. You could stand in the middle and touch everything.
The Hoosier cupboard had a mirror on one of its doors where my uncle would shave. They had running water but no bathroom.
There was a high hedge out front and you would follow a stone walkway to the end of the hedge and there was the outhouse. When I was kid it never seemed strange that at grandmas you had to use an outhouse.
Great Aunt Bessie would come to visit and grandma would say, “She’s up all night running to that outhouse.” Years later while visiting Bessie we talked about grandma’s farm and I told her how grandma worried about Bessie always getting up and down to go to the outhouse. (Bessie had a bad hip and back)
Bessie was from Louisiana and in her sweet southern vice she replied, “Oh Lord, that’s where I was hiding my bottle, in the hedge out by the outhouse. Your grandma didn’t like drinking.” Later I told my sisters what Bessie said, they just looked at me. Everyone knew that!
Grandma had a big grey cat named Caesar. She gave that cat a piece of bread covered in beacon grease every day. (And it never saw a vet)
There was a summer kitchen with a second story. You had to go up a small narrow staircase that turned half way up. There was barely a step on the turn. It was so much fun to play there. My uncle tore it down one day. Later I found out that when someone in the family needed a place to stay they would come back to the farm. My uncle didn’t like that.
My mother had a sister Ester. She was little Ester and grandma’s sister in law was Big Ester. Big Ester lived in Oklahoma and she came to visit every year. She drove a big Buick, had long painted finger nails, blue hair (it was the 50’s) and she dressed up and wore jewelry all the time. The best part was always her shoes. She wore spiked heels with tiny straps holding them on to her BIG feet. (Wasn’t pretty) We all held our breath whenever she walked.
Since I’m reminiscing I’ll share a question that has come up amongst my friends. My family always said when something was crooked or leaning…
“It’s leaning toward Fishers Fence.” My mother in law said her family also used that phrase. But my childhood friend said in her family when something was leaning it was …” leaning toward Gil Martins peach orchard.”
Did your family have a “leaning toward” phrase?
by Nancy Stach
photo by Jill Eudaly