Mom and the Old House

Just thinking…..

We lived in an old farm house, which didn’t even have running water or electric when the folks bought it. Dad put in the electric, but it was several years before we had running water. Until then, we used an outhouse, and had a cistern out on the back porch where we could pump water, and also a well. Bath time in the summer consisted of a metal tub set out in the yard, and in the winter, the tub was moved into the house near the heat register. I always thought going to my grandparent’s house, where they had a REAL bathroom was just the ultimate luxury.


Mom was patient most of the time with that old house, putting up with the inconveniences, and the mice in the walls, and the leaky windows. But once in a while she got that creative urge.


One time she decided to paint the upstairs bedrooms. She had seen a current fad about putting texture in the paint, which resulted in sandy looking walls. So she bought the paint, but what to use for the texture? Aha! She had extra cornmeal. So she stirred in the cornmeal, and painted away. Dad was not impressed. But we kids thought it looked cool except for the times we brushed up against it and got rug burn on our arms. However…… something began to smell. Yes, our science lesson was that cornmeal mixed into paint will eventually mold.


Another time she wanted a closet in her bedroom. It was a teensy little room off the living room, but had no closet. Mom walked around with a yardstick and paper and pencil, and announced that since the stairs bordered with the bedroom wall, then we could just knock out part of that wall and put a closet in the space under the stairs. Seemed good in theory. So one afternoon, she gave us kids hammers and told us to go at it. Those old plaster and lath walls were tough, and about all we really could do with hammers was knock off the plaster and crack some lath. Then we gave up, thinking Dad could do it when he came home from work. Dad’s reaction was not what we expected. He informed all of us that the wall was load bearing (oops…) and that the space under the stairs was too narrow for even a coathanger. So the patching commenced…..

Then there was the time the folks decided to finally put in running water and a real bathroom. They turned another little bedroom into half closet and half bathroom. They found a used claw foot tub, a used sink and a used toilet. They even found a used toilet lid made of wood, which unfortunately had a crack on it that would pinch when we sat on it. Turquoise and silver were big decorating colors then, and Mom dreamed of using those colors in the bathroom. So she painted the bottom half of the walls turquoise (I don’t remember what the top part was), but what to do about the silver? She found some sticky silver tape, and used it create the dividing line between the top and bottom of the wall. It did look amazing. Especially the place where tape went upward off the line. And the place where it never would stick…..


The last example is the kitchen. Mom wanted a little diner type of eating corner. So she designed some benches, which Dad built. One bench was snugged in under the window. The second bench was on the opposite side of the table. They were just plywood with a plastic upholstery, but we thought they were great fun. The slanted back would tilt down and we could hide things in there. It worked great. The unfortunate part was when their much loved oldest child set a hot pan on the seat of the bench…. melting the plastic….. scorching the wood. Mom had had a brilliant idea, but that hole and scorch mark were there the rest of its life.

Father, Thank You for the gift of creativity.  Thank You for perseverance.  Thank You for patience.  Thank You for parents who always did the best with what they had.  Amen.

To God be the Glory…..


Published in: on April 17, 2018 at 3:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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