Many of you have asked where in the world I've been.

All I know is that after 7 plus years of blogging and a different lappy, which I don’t like, I seem to have lost my blogging fervor.

Someday, when you least expect it, I will post again.

For those of you still waiting I say thank you.

Meanwhile, I am rather prolific on twitter. Find me: @KeethaB
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The Eclectic Company - Waitin' on a New Adventure!!
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Monday, June 21, 2010

The House That Mac Built


Edit: This SHOULD be the House That Mac BOUGHT, but that doesn't sound NEARLY as good. Geroge Sylvester BUILT it, he was Mac's dad, my GREAT grandpa!!! The house was built either in the late 1800's or the very early 1900's - - - so it is a centenarian.

Ten of the fifteen babies were born right in this house. My Uncle Ron (6) was the first one born here, and then all the rest followed suit in pretty rapid succession.

I had to come back to this post and add this edit - - - I have some cousins whose initials are BOB JR and GEORGE RICHARD and they would have given me FITS if I left this information incorrect. They are already accusing me of trying to become the "matriarch" of the family, which I am not - - - though they could do worse for matriarchs than moi.

These are my paternal grandparents, Mac and Vera, as they looked in the 1950's and in my earliest remembrances of them.

Grandpa Mac, being a master carpenter, built this home for his family. Most of their babies were born right here- - - and there were fifteen babies, thirteen of which grew to be adults. My dad, number 9, is one of the six boys and seven girls who lived to grow up.

In this house, 3740 South Nebraska Street, those children were raised to work, play, love, and laugh. They spent long evenings sitting around the oval dining room table doing their homework or playing around the wooden Monopoly board that Grandpa Mac made for them, or gathered around the piano in the parlor singing "Great is Thy Faithfulness" or "Wonderful Grace of Jesus."

Once during his boyhood school days, my dad remembers seeing smoke billowing in the sky ahead of him as he walked home from school. The closer he got to home, the closer he was to the smoke. He began to run - - - fearing it was his house, THIS house that was on fire. Sure enough, the second floor, the bedroom floor was burning. The fire was put out, and Grandpa Mac rebuilt the second floor.

In my earliest memories, this house was dusky yellow. Later, when I was a young adult, it morphed into a sea foam green. Still later, when my own children were nearly grown, it was covered in this gray vinyl siding.

I didn't inherit the love of Monopoly - - - but the rest of those home place images are burned into my memory because all the way into my adulthood, we continued to gather there as an extended family. Sometimes we came back, formed a Tent City in the side yard, and stayed for a week or more to paint or roof the house. There was always a meal or two where as many of the original 13 as were present still sat around that same oval dining room table, grandpa Mac at one end and Grandma Vera at the other, later with just Grandma Vera at the head. The rest of us crowded as near as we could around satellite tables in the living room. It became a "rite of passage" to be old enough to be deemed ready to sit at the main table.

Once when I was a small girl and only our family was seated around that table with my grandparents, I saw Grandpa Mac get a large scoop of ice cream instead of milk on his cereal in the morning. I remember asking why I couldn't have ice cream too and therewith learned the valuable lesson that in this world we do not all receive exactly the same things, and that some privileges come with age and experience.

Once when there was a large crowd of us, far too many to all be seated in the dining room, my brother-in-law Joe and Uncle Ben out at the satellite tables suddenly began to laugh. At first it was just a silent shaking of the shoulders kind of laugh - - - but as the rest of us around those satellite tables began to try to discover what was funny, they disintegrated into tears-rolling-down-the-cheeks laughter - - -and all of us with them, though to this day none of the REST of us know what was so funny.

I have so many more memories: card games around the dining room table, sitting on the window box seat learning cat's in the cradle from three of my cousins, climbing on the ladder to "help" paint, smelling the wonderful blend of hardwood and cooking as I walked in the front door - - - which odor said, "This is grandma's house."

But all good things (and praise God, bad things too!) must come to an end. Grandpa Mac moved from 3740 South Nebraska Street to heaven first. For many years Grandma lived on alone in her house.

When she was in her late eighties, it became too difficult for her to live alone. My parents, who lived in the same town, moved in with her. My Uncle Ron, one of dad's brothers, and his wife, Alice Mae, came from California to help. At first, they flew back and forth spelling my parents at intervals. Eventually, Uncle Ron moved here permanently, bought the house, and after Grandma's death (by this time she was in her nineties) completely restored and renovated the house.

When Uncle Ron passed on to heaven, Aunt Alice Mae lived here alone - - - until Memorial Day. This Memorial Day - - - when she too went on to join the other members of the family who were waiting for her around the dining table in the new mansion, where there are many rooms, and where they sing with the heavenly host - - - and I imagine they are still singing "Great is Thy Faithfulness"

Though our family is very large, there is no one in a position to purchase the house and keep it. In fact, my father being the trustee, already has sold it. It will move into new hands on or near July 15.

I can tell you that there is great conflict in my soul over this loss. We in America are becoming a rootless society. We move frequently and far. Items of family remembrance have a way of slipping through our fingertips. (I think this is why we all love and gravitate to antiques - - - but that is the subject of another post.)

3740 South Nebraska was our last tangible family root, and now it is being severed from our illusive tree. My heart breaks. I've racked my brain trying to come up with a way to buy "our" house and keep it forever. As if I would last forever.

Then yesterday, in her "Sunday Favorites" repost, Podso told a story about her grandmother's house, only her story is from the perspective of 38 years after the house was no longer theirs. Somehow in her words, which you can find here, I found a little balm for my rootless soul. Things are just things, afterall, and while they can pass into new hands, the memories that they imparted will live on in my heart.

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NEWS FLASH ADDENDUM: The new owner contacted me in my comments. She is a BLOGGER, and low and behold I've buzzed through her blog in the past. How amazing is that? You can find her and her blog here.

Sing with me: "It's a small bloggyworld after all, it's a small bloggyworld after all . . ."



Erin said...

What a wonderful house that your grandfather built. I understand your sadness at it leaving the family. I hope the next family will keep it for generations and make lots of good memories in it too.

ann said...

My husband and I feel so blessed to be the new owners of 3740 S. Nebraska St. You're right about our rootless society. We ourselves have moved our share of times. But, we hope to make this home our family home for many, many, many years. I will keep you updated. Thank you for writing about the house so wonderfully.

ain't for city gals said...

Oh my..I just read Ann's nice! I felt the same way about both my grandparent's home...I wish I could have bought one of them...but was really too young at the time...I did go back was so funny...I remember my grandma's house as being so big...but when I went back it wasn' was kind of tiny really...just seemed big because we got to do exactly what we wanted...and the screen door would always slam and grandpa would say...Don't slam the darn door!!!...good times...

ClassyChassy said...

I sure love this story - brings back some of the feelings I've had about my grandma's house, now long gone, and the park that was located near by, also long gone....That's a beautiful home, the style is remarkable, not like the houses today that are put up in such a quick hurry. Thanks for sharing this.

shannon i olson said...

Oh what a beautiful story. We do have so much in common, MY great uncle published a book "The House that Bernt Built" a family genealogy, I never knew that house. But my grma and grpa house I knew and oh so many stories too! Grandpa died almost 18 yrs ago, grandma almost 2, the house is now not "ours" any more. Will they, the new owners ever know all the fun things we did dear you have inspired me to write a story of that house too.....perhaps you should host a party we can all link to....

kyooty said...

A "home" is where your family and love is. A House is a shell. I had a hard time with this concept when I had to sell my first "my" house. I bought and sold it within 1yr! I had an attatchment to it, I had thought this would be my forever house? It wasn't. We rented, we moved, again into a New to us House. I LOVED it. I sold it 3yrs after that. It was rough but I did it. This is the longest we've owned a house and I wonder if my boys will feel as attatched to it as I do to my mom's house? They didn't move an inch in 38yrs. :)

Angie said...

What a story, Keetha, I was transported and for a few mins I was right there in your grandparents' house, What a house that must have been!

But you're quite right, tempus fugit as they say, and a few years down the line it'll be your house your grandkids bring their families to, your house they'll have fond late 20th century memories of. And little old not-a-blonde-hair-in-sight Keetha they'll all have for a role model. And you didn't even have to plan any of it!

You hang onto those memories of Grandma's house and let the next lot make their own memories.

love, Angie, xx

Debbiedoos said...

What a wonderful post, and lovely tribute to your AUnt and Uncle. My fondest memories are from my Grandparents house, also not in the family anymore. Not to long ago I zillowed the house and looked at it...broght tears to my eyes. I am very lucky though to have the memories and cherish them. Thanks for sharing your memories with us. And you are NOT older than dirt for pete are still a vibrant fun teacher....even when you are 99 I can see you still teaching:)

Linda @ A La Carte said...

What a wonderful post Keetha and I love that Ann the new owner is a blogger and that makes it so much easier. I agree with how rootless we are now days.

Patti @ Pandoras Box said...

Great story...and what a twist of irony that someone who reads your blog will live in it...I have goosebumps!!

podso said...

A wonderful story and a beautiful home with lots of memories. And the icing on the cake of the story--a blog reader has such a close connection coming up with this home! Awesome. It sounds like a
"God thing" to me.

I've linked my story back to yours!

Unknown said...

Sweet story--Isn't it wonderful the memories that we have--A way to keep our past with us when we can't hold on to it physically.

grammy said...

What an amazing miracle...wouldn't your grandparents be thrilled to know it will continue to be a blessing to the Wesleyan church!!!

I loved that house and remember visiting your grandmother in the rocker by the staircase and then a returning visit while your Uncle was remodeling. They had their RV in the garage while they were restoring the house. Of course I had to read Ann's blog and hopefully that might entitle us to listen to the CD of Matt's band!!!
They probably don't know how musically talented your whole family is!!! What a wonderful story!!!

Kristy said...

You won't find a better family to take care of this lovely home. I know that they are very glad to have found it and many more hymns will be sung in it.

Blessings to your family and prayers of peace in your loss.

Trish said...

You are so right Keetha...things are just that...things. But our memories and family traditions make us who we are.
Such a moving post my happy to see that it's a small bloggy world after all!
p.s. I love this house that Grandpa Mac built!

Tonja said...

What a beautiful story, Keetha! I had, in fact, missed this post. I've been trying to get all my blog friends in a reader on this new site and I am having a heck of a time.
I would love to go through the house my grandparents, both sets, lived in when I was a child. I would love to see those places that are tucked into my memory...and see if they really exist. Thanks for bringing this post to my attention...I would have been so sorry to have missed it!

Debby@Just Breathe said...

You have written a beautiful post.
I loved every moment of reading it and became so sad hearing that the house had to be sold. It's a beautiful home filled with memories. Then to find out that the person who bought the house is a blogger, OMG!!! It's a small bloggyworld after all, it's a small bloggyworld after all....
that is awesome.

Kristin - The Goat said...

Well, I am ready to go meet with some friends and now I'm going to have to go fix my makeup - I've got streaks down my cheeks!

Seriously, what a lovely story and a heartbreaking one all at the same time. It's lovely that a blogger will be there - you can visit often now - but not having it in the family is tough.

I've been trying to buy back my family house for about 15 years now. The people who live there love it and won't move LOL

I can't believe they lived on Nebraska St. My family is from NE and I just found out that my great great grandfather moved his family to Palmyra, WI for a time :)

Thanks Keetha!
Kristin - The Goat

nancygrayce said...

I recently tried to post what I wrote when we sold the house daddy built....being the genius that I am I just couldn't get it to upload.

Such a sweet post!

Jackie said...

When I saw the first picture, I thought to myself that I recognized that house as being one on S. Nebraska street. Then I read on & realized that I was right. I had no idea that was part of your family heritage. How sweet !
And, then for you to learn of the new owners & the story behind her being a blogger AND that the 2 of you have visited each other's blogs.....Hmmmm....I say that's for sure a "God thing". He is so good like that.

I can't find my blog said...

I still pine away for the house that was my great grandparent's home in Memphis. It was sold in the early 90's after my grandfather passed away and my grandmother could no longer take care of it. Amazingly, looking back, I probably could have bought it. Restoring it, though, would have been another story.

I love this story, and I'm so glad that you 'know' the new owner!

ann said...

I definitely plan to post pictures, but I kinda want to show the finished product instead of midway stuff.