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If These Walls

       Could Speak . . .

by Maricia Mlynek


     

Updated on Wednesday*:

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We are excited about beginning a new series, “If These Walls Could Speak.” As we searched for ideas, stories and memorabilia, we were struck by the undeniable truth in words from Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, “How will we know it’s us without our past?”

Many houses in our county still stand today in testimony of the people who called them home. As you drive the curving roads and pass these old homesteads, you can’t help but ask: Who lived there? When was that house built? Who built that house? What were the people like that sat on that porch? Does anyone live there now? These are just a few of the unending questions that we, too, have wanted answered--and hope to do so in this new series.

Think on this for just a moment. Maybe you aren’t interested in old buildings and mothball tales, but everyone has a memory or two of someplace that has been significant. Imagine yourself again as a child. Where did you feel safest, warmest, and most loved? Did you sit on a swing on grandpa’s big old porch or eat homemade applesauce in grandma’s kitchen with the wooden spoon she sometimes used to keep you in line? Was there a room that your family gathered in at Christmas, where gifts were exchanged or carols were sung?

Each time I walk onto my grandma’s front porch, I see her snapping beans from one of her old straight back chairs that she painted hundreds of times. (Those chairs now sit on my porch with a fresh coat of red paint that Gram would have loved.) I know too, that when I walk into her kitchen early in the morning, I can still see her making a cup of tea and cinnamon toast. The warm glow of the sunshine dances through her tufts of white hair. I still remember the drawer where Grandpa would hide his Heath Bars and Twinkies that he would share only with me. I can still picture him sitting at the table and putting warm applesauce on his bread.

Grandpa and Grandma are no longer in the old home on the hill, but then again, they are. Her soft, wrinkled hands will never leave my memory, for they combed my knotted hair, fed my empty stomach, disciplined my haughty spirit, and wiped away my tears. His strong and sharp features will always be a part of my memories, too, as I see him resting for his afternoon nap and walking the fence line to keep the cattle from the apple tree. He was so handsome, and she so lovely. Every bit of that house is her and him. I remember Grammy much more, for she was with us longer, but to forget either of them would be unthinkable. Their home is just an old house to some, but to me it is a treasure, a miracle, a piece of the people I will love forever.

Don’t let your heritage be forgotten. Preserve the heritage of our county. We hope this new series will give you the ability to appreciate it well into the future. To some, the old structures may seem like ruins of briars and broken boards, but to the families that once called them home, well, that makes them castles of com-memorations and mansions of memories. We seek to hear the tales in the walls and to know the stories of old.

We begin this learning experience with the links listed below as they become available.

The Keaton House

Knott's Viewpoint

The Jarvis Home

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By Helen Morris:

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