Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Grandpa's House....The Dearest Little Cottage

Grandpa Pettit died way back in 1982 I believe. I was newly married then. His house was subsequently sold and for years and years it fell in to worse and worse disrepair. The grass was rarely mown, the home wasn't painted, it actually had looked rundown totally neglected and abandoned even while someone lived there.

Recently it was sold again, and it's looking more like Grandpa's house once more. They obviously painted it and I was overjoyed to see it in a crisp new white coat and that they kept the striped awnings and red trim just like he had. Oh, and when I got home and uploaded the picture the, nostalgia hit me like a snowstorm!

I and my siblings had always loved the little front porch with the little cottage-y offset pointed roof, wooden screen door and his little rounded front steps and multi-level sidewalk. The porch seemed like a perfect place for little kids to play "house" and sometimes he would let us do just that.

Grandpa always lined the front sidewalk that ran from the front porch to the garage and on to the drive with the flowers pictured below. I try to plant some moss roses every summer now, and think of him each time I plant them.

Grandpa built this cement block house during WWII. I've heard stories about how he had to scavenge for materials and build it slowly over the course of time. I was so happy about how it looked so good again that when we were up north Sunday, I had to stop and shoot a photo to keep for myself.

This house holds great memories for me and one day I will work up the courage to stop in and ask to have a look inside! I especially loved the upstairs, there was a wooden stairway to walk up, and in it were little nooks and crannies, dormers with low windows and lovely vintage (even then!) furnishings and linens such as embroidered dresser scarves and chenille bedspreads and old quilts.

Grandpa was an antiques dealer and furnished his home almost completely with antiques. I suupose that is why now I can't get enough of them, he taught us to love the old things. Most of us kids still do love anything old. He made them all interesting and fun. He would smile a lot while telling us his stories. He would let us dig through the piles of goodies and furnishings he brought home from estate sales and auctions, and dig we did. We were pretty good at that. I wonder if he ever thought we were annoying wanting to look through everything?

He could fix and repair anything old from remanufacturing a part, making a new spindle to replace one that was missing, or reupholstering anything at all, even the fanciest of old victorian-era couches to repairing and refurbishing a pump organ or player piano!
He had a special talent for finding old goodies and always had a great story to tell about anything he'd sell. Of course, he remembered most of the items, as he was born in 1898 and had at one time or another seen them used of himself used a lot of what he sold. Being a teacher, it was his nature to help the buyer learn about what he or she was buying. We would be in the shop while customers were there and listen as he told them about their purchases. They loved to visit with him and because of that he had a good clientele of repeat customers. He had some of the coolest old stuff. I wish I could go back and revisit and ask him more questions as an adult. He was a man of so many talents.

The windows upstairs held a special fascination for me, the little curtains so sheer and delicate blowing in the breeze. Of course, Grandpa was a wonderful gardener and there will probably never again be the glorious beauty surrounding the house with blooms and evergreens mixed with hardwoods that he worked so hard to make look good. And back of the house and gardens sat his tree nursery and antique shop businesses he ran for years on the hill behind the house. Next door was a cemetery and if we got bored, we were allowed to go over and walk around and read the gravestones. I still find that to be an interesting pastime.

It was fun--a real treat-- to spend the night there as upstairs were floor pass-through type heat registers you could look downward right through the living room ceiling! And from a child's perspective, seeing the tops of all the adults' heads was hilarious!

I find it heartwarming that it looks again like the comfortable, cozy cottage I remember visiting as a child. I wonder if there's a giant braided rag rug in the kitchen? Twin platform rockers in the living room with a tiffany lamp on the table between? I wonder if the Tiger games once again play on the transistor radio in the kitchen? Is there a lidded candy dish of pink mints on the buffet? Cheese under the glass on the oilcloth covered table? Oh, how I wish I could go there again and visit him just once more.

Grandpa used to line his sidewalk with moss roses, like these. They'e annuals and can grow and thrive in poor soil and can take full sun, they're hardy little buggers.


The Raggedy Girl said...

What a beautiful reminiscence of your childhood memories. I would be glad that someone was loving the house again. I would love to know what those flowers are, are the annuals or perennials and can they grow where it snows? Really nice post, thank you.
Roberta Anne

Maryjane-The Beehive Cottage said...

Beautiful blog! Enjoyed my visit!

Old Centennial Farmhouse said...

Hello! Thanks for visiting my blog and for your kind comments! The flowers, Roberta Anne, don't grow during the snows, (I just put up a picture of mine from last summer!) they are annuals and they are called Moss Roses. I am sure that they have a scientific name, but I don't know what that is. They are hardy in that they will take hot sun and can thrive in poor soil! I put them in whiskey barrels on the deck, where we get full sun and no shade! Have a great day all! JG

Anonymous said...

This house was built during WWII when many building materials were rationed. The windows came from the some of the many abandoned CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) Work Camps in the surrounding national forest that was started during the Great Depression. I tried to buy this house from the "dis-repair" owners for years. When it went up for forclosure after the owner died, I looked at it & estimated the cost of repairs, but the sale was mis-published, so I missed out on buying it. I shall forever regret not making a greater effort to procure it. I drive by everyday on my way to work & watch the progress as they work on it. It would have been a great family feat to have bought it & restored it for all to enjoy. Thank you for the appreciation of it -it shows that there is always hope.

Anonymous said...

A very belated thanks for that post, Joni, from sister number 4.

I loved the way the house looked when Grandpa lived there. Remember the sheer curtains in the kitchen pulled back to show the window shades with the big ring that hung down? And the walls in the kitchen/dining room painted a sunny yellow? The oilcloth on the table usually was red gingham... One thing I remember best is Grandpa's stories about being a teacher in the one room school house and the long poems he would recite. I also loved to listen to him play the harmonica or one of his beautiful pump organs. I still think of him whenever I hear the organ and harmonica played (many Bob Seger songs do). I remember the pink mints in the candy dish on his walnut buffet, I love those mints to this day. Thanks again for the bag of Grandpa Pettit mints you gave me at Christmas time; you saw how I cried at the sight of them! I loved to sit on his lap while he was visiting and feel his gentle hands stroking my long hair. That house with the striped awnings has always been a special place that holds happy memories. It's probably why I love Mary Engelbriet cottages with red doors and want to paint my own cottage doors bright red someday soon.

It brings tears to my eyes to think of him, always strong and cheerful despite the hardships he survived in life. He was and still is an inspiration!

Love ya, sis!