When I speak of grandma’s backyard, I am speaking of Grandma and Grandpa Hudiburg’s backyard. I am surprised at the completeness of my visual memory of it. So I will describe it for you. Grandma’s house sat at the north side of their property. Their farm was a triangular shaped twenty-seven acres with one corner cut off by the railroad. I think it was the Missouri Pacific Railroad, although I am not really sure. At the time they lived on the farm, steam locomotives were still running and the black smoke they emitted was used by Grandpa to forecast the weather. I don’t know exactly how he did it, but it had something to do with whether the smoke hung low to the ground or rose into the sky. As an old farmer, Grandpa depended on observation of nature to predict what the coming weather would be. He was usually right.
The back door of the house led to steps down to a brick courtyard. I don’t know how wide it was, but it led to the wash house. The wash house sat on top of the storm cellar, considered a necessity in Kansas, especially in the days before radar, etc. There were two hinged doors to the cellar covering steps leading down to the dark damp interior which was lined with shelves, usually weighted down with jars of canned goods which Grandma and Mom had preserved during the growing season. These jars were a point of pride among the ladies at the sewing circle, with the recitation of how many quarts, pints, etc. had been canned. I must admit, we were never hungry! The wash house itself had a gas hot plate for heating the water used for washing. It also contained a wringer washer and three tubs on stands. The wash board for removing stains and ground in dirt hung on one wall. I will in a future blog tell what I remember about wash day….including the pot of ham and beans that was always the noon meal on wash day.
There was a large stump by the cellar door. It was probably twenty inches in diameter and was used as a chopping block for killing chickens. I guess I will tell about that memory in the future, too.
But today, we are on a visual tour. The outhouse (yes, it was a real outhouse) was on the east side of the yard . I assume the location was guided by the prevailing winds which in Kansas in the summertime are from the south and west. I, of course, had no idea about that as a kid. There was a tool “shed” quite a way south of the outhouse. It was fairly large, probably fifteen by twenty feet. There was lots of “stuff” in it. I imagine most of it was very important “stuff”, but I didn’t know or care about that. To the west (across a brick walk which led from the house to the back fence and gate) was a teeter-totter which had been fashioned from sections of telephone poles. There were three of them. Two tall ones and one shorter one. The two tall ones had a pipe between them which served as an exercise bar. The teeter totter was a two x twelve mounted by U-Bolts to the pipe. There was a big tree in the back yard and a tire swing was hung from one limb. There was also a “sack” swing hung from another limb. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with sack swings, they are straw filled gunny sacks tied to the end of a rope. The yard was fenced with 4×4 woven wire and there was a gate in the back and on the side yard. The gate in the back led to the barnyard. The main thing I remember about the back gate, which was fixed with a weighted system so it would close on its own, was that Grandpa would yell at you if you swung on the gate. And when I say yell, I mean YELL! Somehow the side gate wasn’t as attractive to swing on and it led to the driveway on the west side of the house. The driveway was lined with large elm trees.
The front yard, also fenced was like a formal living room. The front porch was used for visiting, and the front yard was used for Easter egg hunts, but the playing was done in the back yard. There were two rows of large cedar trees in the front which led from the front door /porch to the fence at the road. Star of Bethlehem plants defined the grass walkway between the trees.
The odd thing about these memories is that yesterday I had trouble remembering what order to put the ingredients in my bread machine, yet these childhood memories are so vivid…Go figure!