The Old Red Barn

Grandma Kc wrote this on March 21st, 2014 20 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

Axie’s Dad over at Things my Grandchildren Should Know recently shared a post about the barn of his childhood and it reminded me of our old barn except our old barn was very dilapidated. I have no idea how old it was. I did Google my old address and found that the house had been built in the 1890s!

While the barn was falling down around us, it was another one of those places filled with memories of my youth. I had a talent for finding the one board with a rusty old nail sticking up and stepping on it. I always managed to do this just after my last 6-month tetanus booster. I hated tetanus shots. I don’t remember my mom, sister or Dad ever stepping on a nail– just me!

The Old Red Brn

The barn was also our favorite place to have a Mud Pie Bakery. I loved making mud pies and mud cookies. It meant finding just the right pebbles to decorate them with, too. I was always very disappointed that I couldn’t eat them! The barn also held the magic of the rabbit hutches. There were 4 or 5 of them and my sister and I used to love to go looking for baby bunnies to hold. For anyone who may not know a mother rabbit makes her nest out of fur she pulls from her belly. That fur sticks really good to the clothes of 2 little girls who don’t want to go to church! Our mother would always be running late and this would be the final straw. We just wouldn’t go! I think my Dad was grinning about this behind her back.

The Old Model-T sitting in the driveway in front of the barn

The barn was also where Daddy kept a couple of Model-Ts that he had bought at an auction. I have no idea why or what he did with them. I do remember being 6 or 7 when he let me sit behind the wheel of one of them and steer while he pulled it out of the barn with the tractor. I had to sit on my knees to do it but I drove a car! I was very proud.

The old red barn must have been about 65+ years old when Dad decided to start tearing it down. I must have been about 10. I can almost see the little metal tin of blasting caps he found in one of the lofts. My sister and I had been hoping he would find some kind of wonderful treasure up there but no such luck. He had no idea how long the caps had been out there. One of the previous owners may have left them there after blasting out the gravel pit down the lane. I had such a cool backyard to play in, almost 50 acres!

Daddy thought the smart thing to do was to detonate the caps so he put them outside on the pile where we burned the trash — the same place where my sister and I would later burn trash and catch the backyard on fire. I remember we had to stand on the porch far away while he waited for them to explode. He counted the explosions and I don’t remember how many there were I just remember there was one to few. Dad waited and waited. Finally deciding it must have been a dud he approached the fire just as it finally went off. He was hit in the left eye with 3 pieces of metal. I don’t remember the ambulance coming but they did and they took him directly to the University of Ann Arbor. The doctors were able to remove 2 of the 3 pieces but the 3rd one was in a place where they couldn’t get to it and still save his vision so they decided to leave it in.

Daddy, his Dad and his 3 brothers plus 3 of my many cousins

In my memory, he was in the hospital for a few weeks. I don’t have anyone who can verify that information anymore. I remember my mother taking us to see him while he was still there and getting caught in one of Michigan’s unexpected snowstorms and we slept in the car on the side of the road until the snow plows came through. He wore his eye patch for what seemed like a longtime. I think he always wore glasses but when the patch came off the doctors prescribed a special hard contact lens, too. This must have been about 1960 and contact lenses were something very new. I remember he had a special little rubber tool with a suction cup on the end that he used to remove it and I can remember him showing it to the neighborhood kids! With his new contact he could see pretty well but for a long time things like a hot oven or an open fireplace bothered him. It would cause his eye to feel heated and it would tear a lot.

Daddy never finished tearing down the barn although it is gone now. It wasn’t long after this that he and my mother separated and life got really interesting but I would rather focus on the barn.

20 thoughts on “The Old Red Barn

  1. Bob

    Amara is going to love these stories. In spite of the nails (I have a scar on my leg that is 65 years old) don’t we wish our grandkids had places like this to play in?

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      Yes! I do wish that Amara could experience a barn like that. Life was just different for us but I am so glad I experienced life on the farm.

      Reply
  2. Joyce

    Yours is an entirely different lifestyle from the one I grew up in, so it is fascinating for me to read these stories. I always longed to have a barn to play in and wide open acres so my sisters and I could explore them. Despite those differences, I can still relate to all of the emotions that life stirs in a little girl. My mother was hospitalized for two days when I was 8, but to me it seemed like a month. I also remember the early contact lenses. I bought a pair with one of my first paychecks but could never get used to them!

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      Even though we had very different lifestyles it sure was a fun time to grow up! There really is something to be said for the simpler life. We were so good at entertaining ourselves and I bet you and your sister were, too. Oh and I got my first pair of “hard contacts” when I was 17. Still wear the darned things!

      Reply
  3. Sandy Siegel

    You did have a wonderful place to experience childhood!! An old barn full of excitement & things to explore, bunnies, and a 50 acre playground for a backyard!! And knowing your love of creating delicious things to eat, I am not a bit surprised that you loved making mud pies and decorating them!! It was definitely a sign of things to come!!

    Such a frightening story of your dad’s eye injury. I know I’ve heard it before, but it was different reading it here in your blog. I don’t think I ever realized you were there when it happened. And knowing how little you were, and knowing what an amazing man your dad was and how much you adored him, made the story even more scary than when I’d heard it in the past. It was a terrible thing for you to witness! Driving such a long way to Ann Arbor with your mom (in those days it was a LONG trip) and seeing him in the hospital with the eye patch, and sleeping in the car along the side of the road during a snowstorm… ! What an experience!

    Thank you for letting us peek into your childhood, and for keeping memories alive for Amara to share with her children and grandchildren. We should all be doing this!!! :)

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I actually think I learned to cook out of self-preservation but I have always loved to do it! Think I got that gene from Grandma. I remember how truly disappointed I was with my first Easy Bake Oven. Who wants miniature cakes?

      I wondered when I wrote this just how much of it you knew about – I love telling you stories about life before we were sisters and before he was your Dad, too! We have to share that story soon!

      Reply
  4. Judy@grandparentsplus2

    Several stories there my friend and you had me at the title. My grandparents’ barn housed hay in the loft, the old navy blue doodle bug (truck front with no top attached to a wagon for hay) on the main floor and the cows in the lower area. It was magical to explore that old barn and I can see it clearly in my mind right now and can almost smell that cross between the warm cows and the hay. Barns – they are a good thing.

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      There are so many other little memories from growing up there that I need to share, as they are things Amara is never going to experience. Some she won’t experience just because of technology and how much things have changed and some of them because she will never live on a farm – or in Michigan!

      Reply
  5. Kristi

    My grandparents had a big red barn, and I loved it. I’m not even related to you, and I enjoy reading your stories; I’m sure Amara will treasure all the memories you had written down for her!

    Reply
  6. debra@ HOMESPUN

    Wonderful barn story and memories ( I was half-expecting to read that you burned it down : ) until the end there…so sad about his eye and what all he had to go through and I am sure it was hard on you girls and your mom :(

    My sister had bunnies when the kids were little and they always got such a kick out of them ( me too! :)

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      Now you just be nice! I didn’t intentionally set fire to the backyard — or my mother’s kitchen!

      Reply
  7. April

    I remember your Dad’s patch but not the whole story behind what happened. Love the story and the picture. Brings back so many memories! Love you April

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I love you, too! I sure wish Amara had as many wonderful cousins to play with as we did! She has 2 on Justin’s side that she sees at her other Grandparents. I sure wish she had what we had!

      Reply
  8. An Enchanted Cottage

    You have the most amazing stories and memories! I cannot even imagine 50 acres as my backyard (having grown up in either the suburbs in a neighborhood setting or in the city). Another great post, and I had to call hubby in to see the second picture with the old car and barn!
    Donna

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I am so glad you are enjoying them! It was very different from life in the suburbs. We thought of it as living “in town” because our house was the last one on our street where the street was paved; it was a dirt road after our house. I had lots of friends who lived on “real farms” out in the country. The entire town only had 1700+ people and it isn’t much larger now.

      Reply
  9. Launna

    We used to hang out in barns when we visited our cousins in the country… we had a lot of great fun and made wonderful memories.

    Wow your poor father having to go through that… scary how quickly things happen.

    Have a great week ahead, I look forward to your stories Kc ;-)

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      Thank You Launna – aren’t cousins the best? It is the one thing I wish I could give Amara more of. I had such fun with my cousins growing up!

      Reply
  10. Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs

    Wow! Your poor dad. How scary for his vision. Gah!

    I just adore these stories you share. Though I did live on a farm with a barn for a short period, my adventures were nothing like yours. Such fun to read.

    I do recall going back to our farm several years ago, on a trip with my husband, daughters and my dad. I was hesitant as it was kind of like returning to the scene of a crime (not a great time in my life). But then to arrive and the ENTIRE homestead being gone was one of the most bizarre feelings, as if my time and my memories were imagined. Maybe best the place did burn to the ground, but still. An indescribably sensation to drive up on an empty spot where unforgettable events occurred… and it be gone.

    Blech… I, too, prefer to focus on the happy times in the barn. :-D

    Reply
  11. Teresa

    I loved your story and as I read I was amazed at the similarities. We Iived on 10 acres in Missouri when we had our small barn. My sister and I also loved to make mud pies! There is a picture of us (somewhere) covered in mud. I have wanted to make them with my grandkids, but I have no where to do it. It seems every child should experience mud pie making. We also had rabbit hutches in the barn. My dad decided he was going to raise them and butcher them and sell the meat. We accumulated about 100 rabbits before Dad figured out it wasn’t going to work because he hated killing them. I also stepped on a rusty nail, but only once. And our story ended in divorce as well, but like you said, that’s another story altogether. And my husband and I moved from California to West Virginia almost 21 years ago. It has been so nice connecting with you! Thank you for sharing your story.

    Reply

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