The old house, built in 1895, has hugged North Rogers Street from days of horses to days of horse-powered engines. As the story goes, Granddad purchased the old house by merely signing his name on a piece of paper. He added indoor plumbing and a garage, remodeled the inside, and replaced the roof—a roof that protected the house and would do so for many years.
Afterward, Granddad moved his family into the old house; it was the place my mother, uncles, and aunt grew up. Later, my cousins, brothers, and I spent many joyful days inside the old house. It is my second home, and the calling of the years somehow takes me there. I remember each room as far back as my memory goes. I can touch them, feel the texture on the walls, smell Granny’s perfume, and hear Granddad shuffling across the creaking wooden floors.
In my daydreams, I am once again sitting on the porch swing with Granddad watching the Missouri sunset—a sunset as bold as Granny’s persimmon jelly. The trees gradually become silhouettes. The sound of the nocturnal creatures comes—chirping crickets and buzzing mosquitoes. Soon it grows dark. Out of nowhere, the soft warm glow of lightning bugs slices through the darkness.
Inside the house is a kaleidoscope of memories—photographs adorn the walls, each of them conjuring the emotions of moments long since passed. Though the exterior of the house has suffered many winters and storm seasons, the wooden floor has been sheltered inside. The floor, made of American walnut, is more cinnamon in color where the varnish holds and paler in the regions that have more wear, having been shaped by the soles of our family—of generations living and loving there. It’s as if the house holds onto happy memories in its floorboards and walls, for inside we were safe and warm even on cold, wintry days.
During the holidays, the old house was filled with children romping about, holiday shenanigans, abundant laughter, warm drinks, and loads of holiday goodies! I still remember the gingerbread men with their chocolate buttons and eyes resting on a plate in Granny’s kitchen. We quickly dunked them in homemade hot chocolate as the family sat around the vintage oak table. Its surface now has the face of a beloved old man, as if all those lines were his well-earned wrinkles.
Countless memories live and breathe inside the old house—too many to write about in any one story. I wish I could turn back time, but I can’t. Apparently, I've been the victim of getting older—something that happens to all of us. My "getting older" has been going on for quite some time now and without my knowing it! But getting old is sweeter because reminiscing and storytelling turn back the hands of time. Suddenly, I’m seven again dwelling in the old house and enjoying the people with whom memories were made; the memories of the old house and the people who lived there remain with me forever.