How cool was that?

goshawker(z4WI)June 14, 2005

I was out cutting some peonies when my daughter called out the kitchen window that someone had driven into the driveway. I came from around the back of the house to find and old gentleman getting out of a late model Ford. He had a cane and we walked towards each other. He said "those are my mothers peonies." I asked him what he meant. He told me his name was Ken Nelson and his mother planted those in 1920, when he was 5 years old. His parents had inherited the farm from his grandparents in 1910. The farmhouse was built in 1872. He grew up here and worked on the farm until after WWII. He hobbled around the yard with his cane and told me what it looked like when he was a kid. The concord Grape vine was planted sometime in the 1930's. The Harrelson Apple tree was planted in the 1940's, it's about 30 inches in diameter now and I can't reach the top with a 25 foot ladder. He was sorry to see the enormous Elm tree had died, two years ago from Dutch Elm. It's at least 200 years old, he said he used to love playing in it when he was a kid. He showed me how the house was bigger and part of it burned after lighting struck it, about 1/3 of it was lost. The original barn was also struck by lightining in the late 40's and burnt to the ground. He told me how all the neighbors came and helped his family raise the barn that stands there today. My daughters and I listened intently on all the history of our farm uttered from his lips. What a great treat.

We offered him some lemonade and told him what our plans were. He remembered alot of the native grasses and flowers growing naturally when he was a boy and thought it wonderful that I was trying to produce seed so that people could use it to try and restore the land back to how it was. He thought the whole idea of farming flowers was also a worthy venture. He said they probably don't taste as good as corn but sure are alot prettier. He seemed to approve of how we were treating his childhood home and the land his parents worked.

He was 90 years old and still driving. He lives in Florida now but still has some relatives that are living in our small town and he came back for a reunion. He borrowed his younger brothers (85) car to drive around and see how things had changed.

Anyway he told us so much about the history of our place, what an absolute treat, something my daughters will never forget. He's going to see if he can find an old picture of it for us.

I know it's not much to do with cuts, but I just wanted to share it with some people who I thought would appreciate it.

Thanks for listening,

Steve

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clink(IA-5a)

Steve --- How cool is that!!! I love hearing stories like that. We live in an 1892 farmhouse and the builder's son lived down the road until he passed away last fall. I got a lot of information from him and an old photo that I had restored. It means a lot to us. I'm sure the photo will mean alot to you, too.

We don't own land --- we are merely the caretakers.

Cathy

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 1:57PM
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KrazyKim(z5 MI)

I'm all choked up. Seriously. How kind of you to let him have his moments and share them as well. I did something like this a few years ago with my Great Grandparents home and the homeowner was kind like yourself and let me come in to see what they had done. The barn that I loved as a child had fallen down but the homeowner let me take a rock from the foundation. It is shaped like a heart and it's moved with me and now has a home in my flowerbed. Wonderful story, thank you for making that man happy and thanks for sharing it here :) Kim

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 4:00PM
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ncflowerpower(z8 NE NC)

Steve,

Your story brought tears to my eyes. That is the coolest thing I've heard in a while. My husband and I once visited my father's home that he grew up in, but no one was home, (we were in another state and in the area for only a few hours) but I was able to show him the pond, which is hugh, that I ice skated on and my dad grew up skating on, it was right out the back door. I bet you guys were soaking up all that great history. Thanks for sharing.

Donna

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 4:54PM
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jansblooms(z4 IA)

Really, really cool, Steve! I thought I had a good story, but yours is SO much better.

When my parents retired from the farm, we went for the farm sale, which auctioned off my dad's equipment and many of his tools. After everyone left, my mom offered me the peonies that were on the farm. I didn't know until that day, as I dug them, that the white peonies had come from divisions from my great-grandmother. My grandma had moved some from the West Bend farm to the Doan farm, where she once lived, where my dad grew up, and where I grew up. Then I found out that my great-grandmother, whom I never knew, had been a teacher before her marriage and that she loved gardening. Wow! That's two things in common with her!

I had really hoped to include some of those white peonies in the flowers I took to my dad's grave this year, but they weren't blooming yet. I thought they'd be more special, with more links to family, than the flowers I bought and planted. When we drove into the yard on our Otho farm that night, three were in bloom. Oh, well...

This story might not have meant so much to me ten or twenty years ago, but it's special to me now. I understand how thrilled you were to meet this man and hear his stories. I'm glad you and your daughters had that chance. I'm glad, too, that you're carrying on your farm in a way that pleases a previous resident. Those who aren't tied to the land will never understand, but we do. Good farming to you!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 7:18PM
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