|Memories of the farm
Remarks by Frances Heim Whited at the dedication of the Henry Heim House, August 8, 2009
|My first recollections of life on the farm are of the little house which sat amid towering pines across the road from where we now stand. It was a small house with no indoor plumbing or running water. Refrigeration was a tubular cooler in which milk, butter, and other foods were lowered into the ground to keep them cool. The same type of cooler was in the corner of the pantry in this house. When my brother “Bud” (Gerald Heim) had the measles, Ron came across the road to the bedroom window and Buddy blew in his face so Ron would be sick at the same time as Buddy. It didn’t work out that way, but they tried. The lane would drift shut in the winter, and Buddy, Ron, and I would hook a sled up to Buddy’s horse, “Buck,” and I sat on the sled, (just a small Red Flyer) and go flying down the lane with the horses hoofs inches from my head. My mother was in a panic most of my young years!
To the west behind the barn that still stands was a large apple orchard. Grandpa Henry tended it and sold Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Winesap, and Jonathan apples at 50 cents to a dollar per bushel.
I have many memories of this house. Often when I came home from school in the fall, my mother and father would be out in the field shucking corn or doing some other tasks, and I would come across the road to the Big House, where Aunt Bess would make me the best treat in the world—a slice of homemade bread with brown sugar on it and drizzled with thick cream. She would have me sit at the kitchen table while she went to the pantry to fix the treat. I would know what was coming because I heard the squeak of the pulley that brought up the cooler which contained the nice, thick cream from the depths of the earth. I could hardly wait. Often I would play Chinese checkers with Grandma Little (Bess’ mother, who lived with them). I always tried to win and usually she would let me.
Sometimes, I would go to the barn where Uncle Paul would be milking the cows, and I would sit on my own little milking stool. He would tell me jokes and make me laugh, and squirt milk into my mouth. To this day, I do not like warm milk! When Ron sold his farm equipment, he sent me a pair of cow kickers which I still treasure.
As any energetic farm girl would do, I had free run of the place. One evening I was with my Daddy and was watching him pitch corn over the fence to the hogs. He had an old sharp scoop shovel and as he brought it back full of ears of corn I ran right into it and cut a nice slice across my nose.
I still have the scar if you look closely. Daddy grabbed me up and ran to the barn yelling, “Edna come here, I think I killed the kid.” Of course they took me to the house and put cold cloths on my head. They took me to Uncle Harlan at Humboldt to sew me up. Sooo–Aunt Bess came across the road and sat with me while my folks finished the chores. I remember waking up and she was sitting right beside me and holding my hand. She had such a gentle voice and touch and I went right back to sleep.
When I went across the road to the Big House, I sought out Ron so he would play with me. He was a great athlete at Dawson High and had a high jump and pole vault rig set up behind the house. Being a dare devil, I would try anything, and he taught me to high jump and I got pretty good at it for a GIRL!!! One time I jumped and lit on a rusty tin can and cut my head open. That took care of high jumping for a while. When everyone was busy and I was left to my own devices, I would go up the narrow stairs here to the attic and rummage around in all the “stuff” that was up there. Aunt Bess and Uncle Paul did not use the upstairs but for storage so it was a treasure trove of goodies to explore. I found a gas mask with dark stains on it and always wondered if it was Uncle Paul’s when he was in World War I. I never had the courage to ask about it.
This has been a trip through my childhood not always attached to this beautiful home but I do consider it a part of my life as I have spent many hours here visiting with both Uncle Paul and Aunt Bess and of course Ron and Carolee—when sadness enveloped me it was here I came after burying my mother and my son. The immediate family always gathered here in times of celebration and sadness. As Carolee wrote in her “Memories of an Old Home” [Issue 14, April 2003], “All our lives are a weaving of what we are born with, the memories, the residue of the past, and the choices that we make today. This home has woven itself into many lives, and we honor it and love it.”
[Ed. note: Okay, readers. How many of you know what “cow kickers” are?]