Tuesday, August 23, 2011

427 W. Main St., By Aunt CB

Our Geneva life was disrupted in 1944 when 30 West St, which we rented, was sold to someone who wanted to move in! Thus, we had to move out! The folks found a grand brick house with a cupola on the Main Street in Waterloo. Daddy had to sell his beloved 1941 DeSoto to make a down payment and manage a mortgage. (No cars were made after 1941 because of WWII thus he could get a good price)-- for the sum of $3800 427 W. Main St. was ours!

This is the house where Harold lived while he was attending Waterloo High School. It must have seemed very strange to him after growing up with five older siblings, to be the only kid in a house. (I stayed in Geneva, baby sitting for family and working in a 10 cent store to finish my senior year there.) Add to that the fact that he knew not a soul in town when school started!

The house means more to the grandchildren perhaps than to us older ones but we did have some grand times there! Three bedrooms upstairs with one large closet off the master bedroom, it also provided a ceiling door to be lifted as access to the cupola. By means of a six foot folding ladder we hoisted ourselves up to the attic and thus into the cupola. Years and years of dead flies met us, even as we swept them up. The four sides were windowed but also had to be cleaned and how to get to the outer sides? The tin roof prohibited our climbing out even if we dared. We did a half way job and enjoyed the view. And was this attic floored? No more than 30 West St. was and this one had no windows, only dark spaces surrounding the central cupola.

Mom and Daddy had one bedroom, I had one small one (with hooks for clothes when I was home, slept on an old army cot.) Harold had the other one, same size as mine, with a single size bed I think. Made no difference as there was enough room for him and me to lie, side by side, reading our books, as we passed back and forth a rubber tube, fitted with a stop-cock which was attached to Harold’s latest batch of “wine” which lay on its side on a shelf above the bed. All the amenities of a hotel!

Downstairs, double front doors (with a marvelous clanging door bell to wind!) led to the hall and the dining room straight on, or the living room to the side. Beside the dining room was a small room, used as a bedroom, and as they grew older, Arnon put a toilet in there as upstairs was too steep to climb often.

Then lastly the kitchen, with the old fashioned kitchen cupboard with a flour bin and sifter in it as well as spice cupboard, pull out metal counter and a big bread bin as well as potato one. Here, too, the cast iron stove was king but had become a “combination” 4 stove lids above a fire pit while 4 gas jets fired the other side! Even had a broiler (which was never used). Mom still turned out her incomparable chicken and dumplings on this.

Not done yet, behind the back wall (which held cupboards for all the dishes, pots and pans, kitchen tools and whatever) was a shed where Mom’s washing machine held sway. In this shed also was a drain, which became the bane of her life! The men in the household found it far too convenient to pause there, rather than climb the stairs. I’m sure she was pleased when downstairs plumbing was installled. Still attached to the shed was a sort of “lean to” that held all the odds and ends of life, paint cans, burlap bags, etc.

Outside, Mom, who loved flowers, had several small beds between our house and next door. And the backyard, which extended back aways, was planted in a grand garden, Daddy’s swiss chard, raspberry bushes, tomatoes, onions, etc. in season. They both had green thumbs. Behind the lean to, and near the driveway which led to a very skinny garage, Mom would have several inverted mason jars, covering the cuttings of rosebushes that only she could start! I never could!

What did they put in that skinny garage? Daddy bought his father’s 1927 Chrysler for $50 and he drove that all over. It worked well!

I can’t forget the porch at 427, which covered 2 sides and was wonderful to sit on. Tall spiriva bushes ranged along the front and other side and best of all, around the back, were two wooden doors slanting up three feet or so from the ground, protecting the cellar entrance. Grand to run on and play but better not let Grandpa catch you or he’d “tan your hide”.

Wonderful Christmases there, for having raised six kids, there we 32 grandchildren and you’ve seen pictures of the staircase between floors full of kids!

And Harold, alone among us, put his roots down in Waterloo, earned still another nickname (after all our family ones) TUFFY, met Barbara Buck, married, raised a family, and built his oil and gasoline business there. Not bad for a kid who started alone in a strange place.


Evelyn Taylor said...

I remember visiting your parents in this house a few times. I never realized it had a widow's watch cupola, or I would have asked to go up into it. I have always dreamed of having a house with one and curling up with a book and a box of chocolates and viewing the world!


Pat said...


It IS a romantic concept. I remember having to hoist myself up into it (probably because I was small), but truthfully, the dead flies all over the floor would have wrecked your dream!

CB said...

Yes, Evie, I have had that dream only with a gazebo!! IF I was not clear to reach the ceiling one had to climb a carpenter's ladder and THEN hoist oneself up into the small room! No seats but a cushion would do after ALL was cleaned! However, when we [ with a flashlight] crawled around under the eaves we found treasures , one of which I have at the cottage. A large china washbasin which matched a china pitcher that Jack's fathr had in his workshop! How is that for a family heirloom, combines both sides!!

Sue Kinsella said...

I loved the blue and white dishes with pictures and designs on them in Grandma and Grandpa's kitchen cupboards. Those meant more to me than any of the fancy china. I remember eating graham crackers and milk for dinner on Sunday nights from those bowls, before we would head home after a visit.

Because of that, I bought blue and white dishes with pictures on them for myself when I was first putting together my own kitchen and I am still using them nearly 40 years later. I suppose to my son, Alex, even my own dishes are trending towards antiques, and I suspect that they mean a lot to him because these are the dishes he grew up with. But I like that our current blue and white dishes are really an echo of Grandma and Grandpa's dishes a generation back.

Judy said...

What wonderful memories, thanks for sharing, especially for us "young ones" who only remember bits and pieces. Love you all

Tom Kinsella said...

I enjoyed the house too. I remember rolling empty wooden thread spools down the incline from the dining room into the kitchen. Ma, what was the basement like? That I don't remember.

mom/CB said...

Dear Tom and others,
Th basement was like all others of that vintage! Damp stone, dark, low and there were shelves for Mom's canned goods. Bare hanging bulbs, spider webs galore!!

Sue Kinsella said...

I remember you could go into the cellar either from a door in the living room (that I think was basically positioned under the stairs on the other side of the wall) or from doors outside that lifted up and covered over steps down into it. The cellar itself was like a cave. Is that what would also be called a "root cellar"?