As far back as I can remember my grandparents place, on my Mother’s side, was a very traditional old fashioned farmhouse that we all loved to visit. To one and all in our family & neighbors, it was simply ‘Baba’s House,’ a typical Ukrainian home. A prairie farm where neighbors were welcome any hour of the day or evening. There was always a continual flow of family members coming to visit or help out whenever needed. Often enough visits turned into just having a filling meal and fellowship.
The memorable part for me, was the love we felt in a home that was filled with old fashioned things.
Our Baba was a tiny woman, barely 5 ft tall, but strong when it came to ‘ruling her roost’. That included the men in her household especially. I could see why she had to stand her ground or they would have put too much on her shoulders in those times. Children were exempt. She adored all of us. Most of the time we were respectful but the odd times when we got out of line, she would call us by name and look threateningly fearful by shaking her cane at us. And that was more than enough to settle us into being angels for long enough to be back in her good book. That was usually done by offering to do some small chores for her. Then she was immediately softhearted & generous. Her apron pockets contained loose change or white peppermints which she gave us whenever we went to the garden or gathered eggs for her, helped feed the baby chicks. It was a win – win for us kids at Baba’s house. A woman with a heart of gold.
There were plums and apples to pick from the orchard and rhubarb. After we helped pulling it out, Baba would cut it and give us a rather generous bowl of SUGAR! My cousins & I would sit on the steps dipping the sour rhubarb into it and I remember making faces and shivering but we kept on eating just the same. (Imagine giving children white sugar in this era!)
Sometimes we were fortunate enough to have pure honey that was given by the neighbor who kept BEES! We would have that on fresh homemade bread & butter! Yes! Times were simpler then and it really didn’t take much to make us feel like the happiest kids anywhere!
But nothing dreadful happened to us in our day! We got stung by a bee once in a while, scared by a garden snake, walked through poison ivy more than once and yes, we suffered a bit but our Babas, Grandmas & Moms had a poultice or remedy of some kind that worked every time! It was kept simple.
Memories linger about the fun we had running endlessly out in the spacious yard, playing tag, hide an seek, running races across the open field and collapsing under the prairie sky, daydreaming as clouds of all formations rolled easily overhead. My Dad gave me the nickname: Summer Wind, and I lived up to it faithfully!
The house itself was a great old fashioned two story with many small rooms. There wasn’t a master suite or barely closets in those days. Hooks on the walls held the everyday clothing and the Sunday wear was neatly folded in old dresser drawers. This house was older than the one I grew up in and it was filled with lovely antique furniture.
My cousins and I loved climbing the steep narrow staircase & exploring the upper room that spanned across the entire house. Old lamps, several comfy beds, shelves of books, trunks of clothing and calendars that had hung on the walls for so long the wallpaper had faded around it. Beautiful handmade rugs covered the wood plank floor. If it rained, or in the evenings when the adults played cards or the women worked on their quilting bees, we played guessing games, talked about school, who we liked, whom we didn’t. We looked through old family albums repeatedly and tried on the clothing and compared fashions. As I stroll down memory lane, how I wish I had the camera that I have now, but taking photos then were only for special occasions.
When we had exhausted all of the above, we ‘d crank up the old Victrola and dance to the ‘oldies’ in our finest attire we had pulled out of the trunks. Lastly, we flopped on the beds & vanished into the feather down quilts and slept until woken to go home.
Amazing…Not one of us had any allergies to feathers, dusty rafters or woolly material! Everything was an adventure from the machinery, to the sheds (filled with more old furniture and items of interest). We were continually on the hunt to see who could find “the neatest stuff”
We weren’t allowed to play with the axe! EVER! But our Uncle Harry was grateful and paid us in nickles if we helped him carry wood because Baba needed an endless supply for her monster wood burning stove and her constant cooking and baking bread & buns! There was hearty homemade soup through every season to go with that bread. My grandfather, (Gi Gi) had to have his soup everyday whether it was a hundred degrees in the shade or fifty below. When he was busy out in the field we took a huge container out to him along with a jug of cold well water and he would stop long enough to eat, right there in the blazing prairie sun. If we were lucky to catch him at the right time, we got to drive the tractor once around the field. That was our reward.
These are a few of the memories that I hold dear to my heart about the ‘good old days’ which at the time I never realized how golden they would be to me one day. It is always a new experience for me each time I recall the simplicity of life and how content we were with what we had.
These pages of my mind come alive as I, The Bee Cozy Coffee Shop Writer, type them from the old hand written journals I’d kept. I feel blessed, knowing I am saving at least a tiny glimpse of them for the new generations of our family to learn about if they wish to do so. The years have rolled quickly by but the one thing that has stayed in my heart since childhood, and has never left or changed… is my love for those old fashioned things. They were instilled in my spirit because of the years of growing up around ‘Baba’s House’.
OLD FASHIONED THINGS
Oh how I love old fashioned things!
Cast iron pans. A kettle that sings.
Fine china cups, pretty teapots and plates…
Pictures on calendars with very old dates.
Long velvet dresses in purples or reds.
Antique lace curtains and four poster beds.
Oh how I loved fresh coffee that’s perked…
The taste of baked bread. Brown soil newly worked.
That old fashioned farmhouse, had a loveseat for two.
A warm cozy fire and things we could do.
Wood steps to the attic where I’d often see
Hand knitted clothing, once worn by me.
Wild flowers in a jar, always graced the table.
Soft little kittens played inside the stable.
Picking apples off trees, after a summer shower
That old fashioned clock that chimed on the hour.
White painted fences, freshly mown grass.
Neighbors who smiled and waved as they passed.
With springtime blossoms, I remember those things
The time that it was… And the memories it brings.
I’m sure everyone of us has a place in our hearts and memories that we wish we could go back to…just one more time. Going back to my Baba’s House would be one of mine.
Thank you for reading my blog. Many of these memories are in my book: 101 BLESSINGS & I am looking forward to my sequel: 101 PROMISES coming out in the next couple of months! Waiting for that notification for the publishing date to arrive is the ‘trying-ist’ of times for me! Also, I am working on 2 children’s picture books which I will post more info on very soon!
For years I have been asked why I haven’t put all these memoirs into a book & it is always on the back burner. Perhaps the continual feedback on my ideas that are always overwhelmingly positive, will eventually lead me to that.
Today is an amazing ‘spring like day’, however the weather forecast is for a snowstorm! Either way, it is gorgeous by the lake to me in every season. Whatever the weather, I will be inside my favorite coffee shop, doing what I love…visiting and writing.
Blessings Everyone. I look foreword to your comments. Until next blog, take care … AND…THINK SPRING!
Memory Lane, The Bee Cozy, Coffee Shop Writer.