Our home was a house that Grandpa Charles Wheeler had built. Interestingly, it was located on the opposite side of the road from the barn and fields. A two-acre lot that had been cut out of the original Wheeler holding. The house was central on the south side of the lot. Also, it had a storm / fruit cellar just behind it. There was a “wash house” beside the cellar. It was a good size with one section opened in front for storage of our buggy and later our car. Walnut trees were in plentiful supply, so much of it was constructed with rough walnut lumber. Years later, when we were in the pastorate at Nortonville, I used some of that lumber to make a crib for grandchildren (Baron and later his siblings.)
Part of that lot was a field; a garden / strawberry patch; chicken houses; sheep pasture; a growth of persimmon trees, and another growth of practically ineradicable box-elder trees. Cold winter winds were moderated by a line of evergreen trees perhaps seventy-five feet north of the house. Another hundred and fifty feet north of them was a row of pine trees.
Now back to the house itself. The original structure had steep roofs, one part crossing the other at right angles making a “T.” Later additions had almost flat tin roofs. A kitchen ran almost full width on the north. The “leg of the T” had a porch added on either side. One was screened in and entrance was generally through it. The one on the west was an open porch.
It is strange the little details that impress a child. I remember that the concrete step of the back porch left a large red native rock partly exposed. It had a little, kind of dimple, that would catch and hold rain water. We bathed in a tub of warm water on that back porch. My older children bathed there also many years later when we visited the folks. Precious memories!
We boys–Merlin, Charles myself and then Bob– had a long bedroom above the dining room, and was bounded on three sides by the tin roof of the two porches and the kitchen. When I was quite young, Dad hired a carpenter to put a window on the north end of our bedroom. The light and air were needed. Often in the winter we could see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) pulsating in the sky. There was also the pleasant sound of the low roar of the wind through the evergreen trees. On either side where the gable roof made the walls low, there were two small windows hinged to open upward. The convenience of these windows was sometimes misused when one of us was too lazy to go to the “pot” or outside in case of necessity during the night. We could hardly realize that these porch roofs were a source of water for the cistern. Fortunately, these incidents were not common, (yet often enough that I remember) and we did not use cistern water for cooking or drinking.
Another pleasant memory is the soft swish of the breeze through the screens and billowing of the curtains. This was in the parlor on the south side of the house. It was generally a once-a-week family room or entertainment room for visitors (the pastor). It was also used in case of a family funeral. A truly comfortable, homey room.
There were two other nice sized bedrooms up stairs. One was my sister, Louise’s room, and the other a guest room. This southeast upstairs bedroom holds a special place in my memory because it belonged to Xenia Lee and myself when we visited home on our honeymoon and several times thereafter as our family grew.
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