SUSANN with 2nns – This new old house

Chapter XIX   —   Gretna 1954 – 1968

We had purchased the old J. Friesen 4-acre property with the house under the big poplar (cottonwood) trees. The house was 75 years old, two storey and well built. Friesens had owned the lumber yard and used only fir when they built the house for their family. The building had four bedrooms and a study upstairs with a large foyer where the stairs came up. Downstairs the living room was large an the dining room beside the front entrance was roomy. The kitchen long and narrow had no cabinets. We had our neighbor, Mr. Krahn, build in cabinets just from plywood. There was no real bathroom but just off the kitchen on one side a room with a large, deep bathtub with legsand an old fashioned sink. These performed the duties for “clean-ups”.– There was a drain to an outside sump hole from the bathtub and sink. But there was no toilet or running water. The toilet was the old kind of out-house and in winter we used what was sometimes called a “cash & carry” large pail behind the furnace downstairs.

The basement walls were of large fieldstone and “mud” – no regular cement at the time. We had a wood and coal furnace. The cistern, too, was old and had to be thoroughly cleaned and repaired. This, with a cistern pump in the kitchen, was our running water supply. The coal was shoveled into the bin beside the furnace through a basement window and this always brought in a lot of dust. Ashes had to be carried out and so a lot of walking of stairs was involved in keeping the 8 -10 room house warm. But it was very well insulated and the Friesens had been able to raise a large family here.

A summer kitchen addition had been build on the east side of the house. The verandah off the second floor study gave one an excellent view of the town of Gretna. I was at home here because my Mom and I both had Gretna as the “home town” during the eventful days of our youth. The floors sagged toward the outside because the basement walls had been built 1 – 2 feet inside the foundation. The foundation had not been set deep enough and had sagged over the years while the basement walls stood firm. The windows had old-fashioned shutters on the outside. Storm windows had to be removed in spring and cleaned and put back up every fall.

We had a large garden and planted more apple trees in addition to the two old ones that were there. The garden and the large yard gave ample opportunity for exercise for us all. The barn had room for two horses and two cows as well as chickens. We even tried pigs but gave that up in favor of raising a calf for beef. Since the house and yard had been for sale for several years, the lawn was covered with several layers of decayed tree foliage and overgrown with tall grass. The work of cleaning up never seemed to end.

We had brought along a cow and now decided to buy another one. Because I did not have a teaching job, I decided that I would sell milk and cream to the neighbors in order to get a little extra income.





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