Saturday, November 28, 2009

Headquarters, Holtdale

The earliest memories of home of my syblings and I were of the original family home at Holtdale. The house sat in the middle of three acres of beautiful lawn dotted with numerous flower gardens and many shade trees. I remember large, red-maple trees, a mulberry tree, hickory nut trees, sweet cherry trees and several wild cherry trees. Hanging from many of these trees were bird boxes. Other bird boxes perched on large poles placed about the yard, some of which were made especially to attract a bird called a Purple Martin that came to the area every summer. I can recall the delight of the adults when the first purple martin was sighted in the spring that chose one of our boxes for its home.

I can name only a few of the great variety of flowers that provided beautiful blooms from early spring well into late fall. In the flower garden itself were peonies, iris, hollyhock, sweet William, many species of roses, gladiolus and so many others. Many of them were aromatic and a walk through the lawn could be like a walk in a perfume factory. Placed here and there throughout the lawn/garden area were benches where one could sit quietly and just enjoy the serenity of the place. On Sundays, it was common to have complete strangers drive up to the house and ask if they could walk through the gardens.

We always had a vegetable garden large enough to supply much of the year’s vegetable needs. The orchards took care of our fruit needs and were on the hilltops. The "hollow" between the hilltops, was fenced off from the orchards and functioned as pasture for the two to five cows we usually had for our milk and beef. We occasionally had a pig or two, always chickens and frequently turkeys. It was a reasonably self sufficient operation. It had to be during those depression times when we kids were growing up.

Dad and Mother worked long hard hours on the farm. Dad and, sometimes, Uncle Frank, performed most all of the required physical labor and Mom helped harvest the fruit to some extent, but she mainly took care of the home and stand. Her big area of responsibility was the family. She kept house, prepared all the meals, canned everything in sight, did everyone's laundry, including ironing white shirts for Grandfather's office work, and took exceptional, loving care of four wild, runny-nose kids. All in all, it was a pretty hard life for both of them, but they felt they were securing their future, and it was worth it.

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