Edit: My Mom corrected me to my referral of our location. Since I have only ever lived in the Pacific Northwest, traveling to Illinois felt like going "back East" when, in fact, it is the Midwest. My Midwestern Mother said so, and since I correct people that I'm not merely from "the west coast" but from the Pacific Northwest, specifically, I respect being proud of where one comes from.
I apologise for my absence! I didn't realise it was actually that long since I posted. Nearly a month. Goodness. Life has been whirling by full of adventures and story. It is unique that I should help clean out two family homes in one summer. Perhaps not so unique, but I've never had to do that before.
This story takes us back
East (excuse me!) to THE GREAT MIDWEST, to a sweet, tiny town called Morrison in the state of Illinois.
There is a family home there from my mother's side of the family on Grape St. The property has been in the family for a very long time, 130 years or so now, and two houses have been built on it. The first was sliced off of it's foundation and relocated in town. The second, the house that is there today, was built sometime around 1918 atop the former house's foundation. My grandfather was born in that house and his sister, my great aunt, lived there for many years after she raised a family in Seattle. It was interesting to see how special this house was for my mom's family who live in Wisconsin. This house is to them what my grandfather's house in Seattle is to me. A special place filled with memory and story.
The first time I visited was in October of 1988 when I was on the cusp of three years old. My parents were back to bury my Grammie Lou (my mom's mom) when she passed away after a long battle with Leukemia. I have a few very vague memories of the trip. Waking up on the air plane and trying to find my house. Pushing a little orange and yellow plastic shopping cart around the neighborhood.
Now, 24 years later, I make different memories. I wondered if things would jog the memories of my younger self, but nothing in particular presented itself. On Thursday night we packed, wrote emails, made phone calls, checked, double checked, and triple checked the to-do list. I became my mom's Personal Assistant for the evening so we could stay on track.
At about 6 in the morning we made it out to the airport and the general feeling of anxiety subsided into an unabashed sense of excitement for the adventure we were about to embark upon. The first flight was a series of cat-naps, punctuated by the stewardess asking if we wanted anything. A little more sleep, perhaps? Seattle to Chicago passed quickly enough and we found our gate at the large, tangled web that is O'Hare Airport.
Lunch that was hastily purchased in Seattle was consumed happily in Chicago. We wondered later why on earth we bought it in Seattle, when there were plenty of places to buy lunch in Chicago.
Our next flight was a little hopper, about one hour, which took us to Moline, IL airport, from there we carpooled with Ann (My mom's cousin) and Aunt Marion (Ann's mom; My mom's aunt) on the final leg into Morrison.
Yes, that is a gleaming Dodge Charger. We drove a muscle car through the corn fields in semi-rural Illinois. It. Was. Awesome!
The first stop once we reached Morrison was at Sullivan's Grocery store just off of Main Street. We obtained the absolute necessities; Coffee, bottled water, and ice cream!
Once we reached Grape Street, we settled in to chat and open up the house.
While the gals chatted downstairs, I allowed myself to slip away to do a little poking around before we raised too much dust. My first stop was upstairs in the attic. I have been in many an attic before and every time I found myself wishing it were a little larger, a little more finished, filled with REALLY old treasures. It wasn't until I came to Morrison that all my wishes came true!
Trunks filled with decades of correspondence, clothing worn by ancestors, furniture, chamber pots, obsolete books, and dusty prams. This attic was perfect in every way shape and form.
a hammered dulcimer
the tiny spot is the moon, the large one is my camera flash
the oh, so beckoning stairs...
Bright and early the next day we set about cleaning. Starting with the garage. License plates from as far back as 1938 decorated the rafters, while tools and gardening detritus leaned up against any available space. And if that wasn't enough the entire place was coated in a hearty film of dust and spider webs! Whew!
We swept, bagged, dusted, schlepped, hauled, and paused for sips of water. Around lunch time we began to look about for another task, or a dumpster.
Great Aunt Marion and Aunt Margarete came out to have a look-see at what we had accomplished!
Grape St. garage has grape vines growing along the front.
So very clean! I leave you here whilst I prepare parts two and three of this escapade.