HOUSE OR HOME ?
My first memory of being ME opened my eyes to me-ness in a wide world of wonder. I always felt loved and especially so in my newly-awakened world in Piqua, Ohio, my birth place. Mother shared, in later years, that we lived those depression years, at least for a while, in a small second-floor apartment, hence my awakening to the outside-of-me world. I recall a big windowsillwhere I sat and watched squirrels playing among the tree limbs.
Moving to Rome City, Indiana gave me a whole new world to contemplate. Our little house with a big front porch was blocks from my beloved grandparents, Grandma Belle and Grandpa Tipton, whose lives intertwined with mine for many wonder-filled years. I had my very own room where I played with my dolls, and, also where I got my head stuck in my dolly’s high chair. Oh, the imagination of a 4-year-old; could I fit in that chair too? That room became my world as I was nurtured, loved, and treated for scarlet fever at age 5.
Our doctor came to the house, put a quarantine sign on the front porch, and brought me through the ordeal with a newly-developed antibiotic that tasted like peppermint. I recall how Mother bathed and cuddled me then left to take care of baby brother, George, being careful not to expose him to the life-threatening disease. Mother, an elementary teacher, home-schooled me during my illness, using lessons left on the front porch.
At 5-years-old, I was an early entrant into the first grade. My very special first-grade teacher, Miss Kessler, had beautiful hands with lovely blue lines that I wished I would have when I grew up. (Now as an adult, I do have those lines, but they are not as lovely as Anna Laura Kessler’s.) My teacher encouraged me to sing “Little Sir Echo” for the second grade class –– my first solo performance of many to follow; well, more about music later.
Did I tell you that this little house had an outhouse with seats for two? I never could figure that out – two holes? Also, behind the house was a field bordered by a fence, which, in winter, was mostly submerged by water, ice, and debris, holding water and making a shallow pond.
My friend, Barbara, and I were up for adventure one dull February day, so we put on our boots, then side-stepped across that half-sunken fence until warily we reached the other side of the pond. By that time, the sun was setting, and we knew we couldn’t get back to our homes. We trudged across the backfield and finally saw the lights of a house several acres away. We arrived there, weary and frightened, but were welcomed by a surprised lady who gave us a warm place to sit, blankets, and hot chocolate, as well as a lot of questions.
Mother and Dad didn’t have a telephone, but she knew that my grandparents did and called them to let them know we were safe. They promptly picked us up in Grandpa’s big Oldsmobile and took us home with a friendly, but stern, admonition that we should never, never do that again. We didn’t.
We left the comfort of my then hometown and moved to a town nearby where we spent three pre-war years in houses that Mother made into homes for the four of us. Moms do that.
Houses do become homes when Moms, Dads, and God are there. I have always been blessed with that knowledge, which I have passed on to my children.