Cracking The Memory Vault

Pictures — like music — have a powerful ability to coax memories out of hiding, even for those of us who might have misplaced the combination to our mental vault. That would certainly be the case for a picture I ran into recently, a deceptively simple one of an old house — but one that evokes many memories because it shows a place that was often my home away from home.

I’ve written several times about my maternal grandparents, who lived at the edge of a rural village, just a literal stone’s throw from plowed fields. It was a place we visited throughout my childhood, but especially so when I was very grhomeyoung. My dad was on the road with his job several days at a time, and my mother — like any young woman in that situation — would often go home and spend time with her parents.

Their house was pretty basic. My granddad was way too busy scraping out a living to worry about keeping it nicely painted, and it didn’t even have indoor plumbing in the early years — but that looks like a sink resting at the side of the house so maybe he was getting ready to modernize. He’d tackle anything, including working on his own car, which explains the tire — actually a whole wheel — resting near the sink. He’d probably been working on it in front of the work-shed (which is out of the picture).

I can still feel the fun I had bouncing on the porch swing and I also remember my grandparents’ mismatched rockers — one hard wood and the other with cushions — but not whether they each had a favorite. Maybe it was because they both kept so busy that they seldom used them — although I also see that grandma found the time to have some potted plants.

“Home” – Jim Reeves


7 thoughts on “Cracking The Memory Vault

  1. I’m always jealous of people who have a bit of country in their memories. All of my grandparents were city born and bred, and my mother’s mother (my paternal grandmother had already passed by the time I was born) was a terrible homemaker and cook. Kind and sweet as all get-out, yes, but she did not leave the scents of apple pies and lavender sachets in her wake, alas. The closest I got to farm visits was to the home of my father’s sister and her husband in then-rural McLean, Virginia. It was a real farm, and Uncle Jim had a real tractor, but we visited so seldom it doesn’t count. (I did discover original vintage Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries in their attic, however! My imagination was filled with “roadsters” and girls in “frocks” joy-riding on the running-boards….)

    Love the rendering of your memories inspired by the picture.


  2. Thanks for the good words, Ralph. Once in a while I get a little misty and put together a post like this, but then second guess myself about whether anyone will find it interesting. It’s even better to hear that it might have helped trigger some good memories for you too.


  3. Boy, that picture brought back some memories to me! I remember warm sultry summer evenings out there when mother and Grandma and Granddad would sit in the rockers and we would chase “lightening bugs” to catch and put in mason jars. It was so neat to see their twinkling lights in the jar. Cousin Tim and I would play endless games in the light from the corner, like “Mother may I?” or tag. Or we would get in the porch swing and swing back and forth with the squeaking sound it made. Of course if we got to going too high we would be chastised to slow down. I also remember the “quietness” of the country atmosphere. We could hear all the night sounds and the stars seemed so bright since they weren’t competing with much other light. There was very little car traffic, just peaceful sounds of nature. Grandma would rock in her rocker and hum sometimes and Granddad played his harmonica sometimes. When he quit smoking he always had a stock of lemon drops to substitute for a cigarette.
    Grandma had a reputation for being a great cook. She made her own bread, pies, noodles, donuts, cakes and pies. She loved cooking and we benefited by getting to sample her goodies. There are so many memories from that time.


  4. I can remember catching lightening bugs in those days too, but I was just thinking that it’s funny that I don’t recall the bad things — like being bit by a mosquito. I’m sure we got bit plenty but we tend to just remember the fun stuff. (Of course, we didn’t have to worry about West Nile in those days.)

    One thing is sure — sharing good memories seems to trigger more for everybody. Thanks!


  5. Geeze, of you wonder what kind of feedback a reminiscence blog will bring, check out Kat Ryan’s Keep The Coffee Coming (linked on my blog) and then join the addicted thousands.


  6. I would love that–even though my posting activity these days is but a ghost of its former self and will be as long as we’re in the midst of this construction project. Thanks.

    And I should have known you were a Coffee reader. Kat (she’s “Kathy” to me) and I were Peace Corps volunteers together in Ghana 40 years ago We reconnected about 5 ir 6 years ago–she’s who got me started with blogging.


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