Over the last 60 years I have said goodbye, so long, see ya to a multitude of friends, relatives and pets, but on a cold, windy day in 1995 Lorraine (Thomas) Bateman and I were going to say goodbye to a house — not just an old deserted house but a house that was a big part of our childhood.
By JoAnn (Brown) Steinhaus
I lived on the farm west of the Thomas Farm — that was where my Mom and Dad called home. I lived from the Domenico Farm eastward to the Peterson Lakes on Baseline Road. Lorraine Thomas and I were both “only kids” so together we staked claim on all the neighbors. Every day was a new adventure, as we were creating memories that would last our lives. Now we are climbing the stairs of the house to say goodbye.
In the arched upstairs hallway if you listen real hard you can hear two little girls humming and dancing in long gypsy skirts.
We walked into the west bedroom with the turret room attached — we called it the castle tower — and as children we would gaze through the stained glass and imagine Rocky Lane and Tom Holt were coming to rescue us and we’d ride off into the sunset.
Sixty or so years ago a bathtub was installed in one of the four upstairs bedrooms and it was converted into a giant bathroom with running water — what a luxury! The water was deeper on one end of the tub so the arguments were endless as to who got the deep end. Looking out the bedroom window I could almost see the cattle in the corral, almost hear the Formal tractor and almost see Dick (pa) Thomas planting corn.
The milk house is below with a cement trough that is full of cold water with cream cans full of milk cooling. And there’s Charlie the bantam rooster strutting around. He would attack when it was least expected.
Lorraine remembers when the bull charged Uncle Dee and he crawled under the feed trough to escape the bull. It took a long time to heal from the attack. I remember that same bull chased Millie Greenlee and my Dad up the ditch and they escaped under a bridge. The silo, granary, gas house, barns are all gone now — just levels dirt holding the trapped sounds of our farm life.
Downstairs in the Thomas House we headed for the front bedroom. We laugh now. It seems smaller. There is a sitting room that no one ever sat in.
We sit on the broken floor of the front porch and pretend we are churning butter again, with the sound effects of whining and looking for imaginary blisters. We listen for the wolf that we swore we heard the night we almost “slept” in our sheet tent on the front lawn.
Going back into the dining room Lorraine is once again a school teacher, tapping a stick on the window ledge to get my attention. It doesn’t work any better now than it did 50 years ago.
In the kitchen we put wood in the yellow and green cook stove that isn’t there now. We pull the string on our tin can telephone that went from the kitchen window across the field into the kitchen window of my house. We touch the pantry shelves and I think we can still smell the cinnamon rolls.
We shut and lock the back door and never look back.
As long as we have years and years of memories we don;t have to say “Goodbye.”