Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Cooper Chapters-Cheyenne River Valley
I traveled to Cooperstown ND a week ago, and had to drive past the old farmstead of an aunt and uncle. I drove down the hill; over the new bridge that is over the Cheyenne River; up the winding hill; past the driveway that goes back down into the valley to the Loge farm; around the corner and another 3/4 mile to the old homestead that had been Uncle Martin's and Auntie Beanie's. The house, barn and anything that was there for the homestead is gone, but there are grain bins, a newer steel building that probably houses farm equipment. So it doesn't look the same as my memory had it. Memory was driving in along the east side of the yard following the fence to the area by the windmill and big, big water tank where we would park the car. We'd walk to the side door of the house where the kitchen was. After entering, on your left side would be the wood bin. There was a small table by the east window, a wood stove on the west wall, and a pantry off to the north side of the stove, and a sink on the north wall. Just a double sink to bring water to do dishes, etc. There was no indoor bathroom - Once a week, we took turns bathing out in the back porch. First us kids, (because we were guests?) then the girl cousins, if any were there, and then Auntie Beanie, and then Uncle Martin, and then Bunty (He was the dirtiest!). the outhouse was outside at least 75' away from the house. I remember not liking to go out there; so I made sure I'd done my business before it got dark!!!!!!!
From the kitchen you went into the dining room which was open to the living room. There was a huge big table, a buffet table on the south wall, and on west wall, there was a stairway to upstairs, and on the east wall there was a big hutch that housed lots of nice serving dishes (as I remember them) and where Auntie Beanie kept her famous picture albums that we'd like to look at. (I need to find out who has them now, as I'd like to see them again.) This was in the 1950's, so there was no tv! There was a radio. I remember that it was on all the time.
In the living room there was a very old davenport (now called a couch), rocker, end table, old record player, and another stuffed chair. On the end table was the huge old family Bible. I remember Auntie Beanie having everyones birth dates, etc. written inside the cover.
I don't remember where Auntie Beanies bedroom was. Probably never could go in there. But upstairs was great. There were two stairways. The girls used the stairway from the dining room, and the boys used the back stairway from the back porch. I think the boys area was blocked off from the girls. Maybe it was built that way to have hired help in a separate area. I remember listening to old records upstairs and playing dress up with cousin Mavis's clothes. She was a very petite young woman, and we got to play dress up with her high heels and her dresses and sweaters. We thought she was the pretties girl ever. It was so fun!
We stayed with Auntie Beanie and Uncle Martin for two weeks each summer, until we were old enough to start summer jobs. I'm sure we were pests to our older cousins. I think their youngest was 14 years older than we were. Our oldest cousin "Bunty" got the brunt of having to do things with us. He was the oldest child that had stayed home to help on the farm. We loved him!!!!! He'd take us to town with him on Thursday nights, and we'd run around with other town kids while he went to the bar for a few beers! We'd end up at the local cafe at the ice cream counter and he'd find us when it was time to go home. I remember it as a lot of people coming to town to visit with each other, do their grocery shopping, etc. It seems like that little town came to life on those Thursday nights!
On the weekends, more relatives would come and there would be a lot of food, and we'd play either kick ball or softball in their front yard. Kids and adults - everyone got to play! There would be a lot of laughter. Our cousins would be there from Oregon, so there were kids our age there too.
Those were the times when I wished that we lived there instead of in Minnesota. At home, it was just Georgia and I. No other relatives! A trip that only takes 3.5 hours now probably took five or more hours back then. I'm sure my sister will have more memories to add to these Cooper Chapters.