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Rural Living, Circa 1983, or '84. . .

My late grandparents' house, Summer 1983, or '84, between Landis Store and Huffs Church, in District Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania.

It's funny what you come across when you aren't looking or it.  This afternoon, I was paging quickly through my physical photo album (Remember those?) looking or something else, when I cam across this picture of my grandparents' house in southeastern Pennsylvania.  I decided to scan it, sharpen it, and fix the colors a little bit.  Here, I spent the vast bulk of my formative years here, between 1973-1991, and it was to this house that my parents brought me a day or two after my birth at Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia, now over half a century ago. Doesn't that make me seem old??!!

Since I have talked about it so much this place and my grandparents in various posts here at Classic Style, it seemed like a fun idea to share this photograph, the only one I have of their place.  The creek is just behind the photographer's vantage point with the large barn closer to the road beyond the creek.  Either my mother, or sister took the picture.  You can just make out the kitchen, added in 1973, at the right of the photo.  The dining room is in the middle of the house, the downstairs hallway cam next, and the living room was on the left with a door out to what we called the sideyard, which as surrounded by flower beds, rather large Boxwood shrubs, ornamental trees of one kind or another, and a small hill off the left edge of the picture, that led to a large meadow lined by trees and privet hedges.  

The second and third floors of the house contained the bedrooms and two full baths.  A third full bathroom was at the rear of the kitchen annex.  Behind the house were the summer kitchen, a large stone springhouse, where many leopard frogs lived each summer in the icy water that ran through it, and the smaller pumphouse that kept the well full of equally icy springwater.  A long run ran from the springhouse down to the creek, and across it was where my grandparents maintained a large vegetable garden, also with several current bushes, in raised beds.  The house had two working fireplaces, one of which was a rather large walk-in affair in the dining room, still with its old wrought iron crane in one corner from which cooking pots and kettles had hung in just post-colonial times.  

The basement, which you can just make out below the font porch, had orignially been converted to the kitchen area by the couple who owned the house before by grandparents, -- Mr. and Mrs. Terrell, Philadelphia Quakers, who purchased a home in the country back in the 1940s.  In 1973, my grandparents added the kitchen annex you see in the photograph at right above.  I can remember playing with Matchbox cars, during a visit from the Midwest one summer, in the window that was later knocked out to make the doorway into the kitchen.  That would have been about 1970, or '71.  But I digress!  The basement became my grnafather's workshop following the kitchen addition in '73 as well as housing the furnace room and, of course, the washer and dryer.  As far as my grandmother could learn from looking at old records, the house had been built in the 1780s or very early 1790s.

As you can see, it was not huge by any stretch, but the five of us managed to live comfortably in the house without killing each other, and we all managed to carve out our personal spaces with some ease.  Without idealizing it too much, it was pretty damned nice living and growing up here in retrospect.  Certainly park-like and even idyllic.  Our last several days here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold in Mid-Michigan have reminded me so much of the summer days all those years ago at my Grandparent's place.  The same sounds, smells (Freshly cut grass and rain blowing in, anyone?), and sense of calm.  Even the way the early morning sunshine peeks through our bedroom window.  It was, and still is, as my grandfather Dave used to remark once in a while, "Good to be alive!"

-- Heinz-Ulrich

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