Wednesday, February 10, 2010

{Welcome to the Johnson's Farmhouse}

My heart sank into the depths of my knotted stomach. The day had arrived when my grandparents' estate was to be auctioned off. There was a slight chill in the air as the people gathered on the small hillside and settled onto the blankets that were sprawled out in front of the large red barn. That chill went deep into my ten year old bones. I remember crying to my parents, knowing at such a ripe age that those gathered would walk away with treasures that I longed to keep. Playing on the sawhorse brought no joy on that cloudy day. There was no peace within me.

As the auctioneer started calling out the pieces that my grandmother had collected over her lifetime, the tears fell from my eyes. One by one I watched my childhood memories leave.

My grandparents had lived in the same home for as long as I had known them. I had treasured the times that I spent in their warm and welcoming farmhouse. The home was full of intriguing pieces of history, as my grandmother was a collector of all things antique. The grandchildren were never forbidden to play with them, either, which made for wonderful childhood memories of going to visit Grandpa and Grandma Johnson.

As one entered my grandparents' home, they'd immediately be greeted by Grandpa and the warm scent of tobacco smoking from his pipe. He would be biding his time, waiting for our arrival, in the mudroom. The small room doubled as his wood carving room. He'd be in his chair, whittling on his latest piece of wood. My grandfather's carvings have found their way into family homes (thankfully, we all received a piece of that treasure), as well as a few museums. He was excellent at his craft.

The door from there led into the dining room, where one would find a curio cabinet full of Grandma's fine china. It always came out for Thanksgiving dinner, when the extended family would join together around the farmhouse table. Tucked into the front corner of the room was a tall wooden stool holding Grandma's famous, live fern. It had grown to have at least five foot fronds. My mother was tickled when she inherited the plant. The opposite wall was the double sided fireplace, which was the resting place for Grandma's cast iron and stoneware collection. Grandma had a butter churn that we loved to play with, as well as several cast iron sad irons. I was always in awe of their weight, and I spent several hours of my childhood straightening Barbie's clothes with them.

As one looped around the left of the fireplace, the coziness of the living room was met with a ten gallon stoneware jug displaying the warm fuzziness of cattails and pussy willows picked from around the pond in the back yard. 

In the center of the room was a low-lying round table made of stone. While the grand-kids were visiting, it would be covered in red and white plastic bricks from the 1950's as Grandpa helped us build house after house. When he wasn't building houses with us, he could be found in his easy chair, watching television. Grandpa was hard of hearing from several years on the job as a crane operator, and he used a huge black horn (like the old RCA record players had) with a thin plastic tube that he put in his ear for hearing the television. If we wanted to tell him something, we'd put our face down by the horn and yell into it. On the other side of the living room was an end table with Grandma's brass school bell collection. This was the only treasure that we ever got in trouble for playing with. I think it was mostly due to the noise that we were asked to leave them alone...(and mom has these in her collection now, too). But, the most wonderful item of all was in the corner at the bottom of the staircase that led to the second floor of the home. Grandma had an old pipe organ tucked into that nook in the house. There were pull nobs, floor pedals, and all in this antique instrument. It is one of the few items that I longed to take with me on that auction day. Many hours were spent playing that organ, using all of the energy that one could muster at such a young age, in order to pump the pedals and keep the sound coming. 

Finally, as we wandered around the back of Grandpa's chair and to the kitchen, we passed the glass sliding doors that would lead one to the backyard. There are many fond memories of afternoons playing badminton with my cousins or Grandma outside of those doors (for sharing another day...). As we wander into the kitchen, Thanksgiving dinner wafts from the oven and stove top. The one piece that I loved the most from this room was the antique crank phone that hung on the wall. My cousin and I had many chats with our "friends" from that phone while Mom and Grandma and my aunt prepared dinner, until they shooed us from the kitchen and out from under their feet!

After an enjoyable visit with my grandparents, our tummies were full, our day was spent, and we rested well...
I would like to thank the following for use of their photographs, and if you'd like to purchase the items viewed, the links to their shops are featured, as well:
"Tools of a Trade" by Steve Raley at
Vintage 1940s Jobey Pride 160 Estate Pipe from
Stock Photo: Stool by mzacha on stock.xchng : 
Antique Geneva Sad Iron Late 1800s from
Cash Family Vintage Butter Churn circa 1945 from
Vintage Cream Jug from
Stock Photo: Cattail by annala on stock xchng:
Large Vintage Brass Bell from
Stock Photo: Antique Organ by soundgroov on stock.xchng:
Antique Deveau Wood Telephone from


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful memories. It brought back many memories of times spent with my own grandparents. Also, thank for including my brass bell.

  2. Thank you Alycia, your narrative brought back memories of my grandparents house as well as the auction of my great-grandparents farm. Thank you also for featuring my "Tools of a Trade" image. Peace.

  3. I love all the memories! Bloomfield Beads

  4. Great memories! It is hard to let things like that go and remember that they are just things- you keep the memories always!


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