1/2 an Inch?

The house I grew up in (we moved in while I was in 2nd grade) was a house that had been built in the early 1800s and was known as the Illk house.  It was the neighborhood that my family had always been in and had I’m sure been built by a person (Abraham Illk) that in some convoluted way related to us.  The bricks for the house were made in the wood near the house and my father would say this house has stood for 100 years and will stand for 100 more!  When the wind would blow for a huge storm, we couldn’t hear anything from inside the house.

One of the stories I remember from my childhood was our washer and dryer needing replaced….. my father had let my brother and I take apart the old ones and play with all the parts, including using the casing to store some animal we had found in the woods.  My father was in the field when the new washer and dryer were delivered…..  Of course the new washer and dryer were a littler larger than the opening to turn the corner and go down the stairs.  The delivery man, not having a clue what my family is like, said the famous words – If we only had another 1/2 an inch!  So my mother after saying are you sure?  Grabbed a hammer and knocked the plaster off the wall.

The delivery quickly put the washer and dryer into the basement and ran as fast as they could out of the house – probably expecting my dad to show up and hurt them in some way.  My brother currently living in the house still hasn’t fixed the plaster, 40 years later!  The lathe on the stairs is still visible, and it’s just the spot directly inside the door.  The basement is unfinished with parts being dirt basically open to the outside, and in one spot there is an opening that has stairs that lead up under the kitchen going directly to the floor and into the dirt.  I remember cats having kittens under the kitchen and having to crawl under the kitchen to see them.

Illlk houseThe picture from the Oakwood Centennial book shows the Illk house before we moved in.  Now the porch doesn’t have the roof and a kitchen and garage have been added on the other side of the living room windows.  We actually got the house from Ralph Goodrich when as I entered second grade.


Fireplace Fire and Hide and Seek…..

A fire is pretty scary.  I remember from childhood the one time my mother caught our house on fire….. for some reason it isn’t such a scary memory for me as just a thing that happened.  From my memory, our house was super old even before we moved in.  It came preloaded with antiques…. including a duncan phyfe coffee table that I proceeded to break the glass top on when my mother tried to get me to put Vicks on my nose during allergy season. The house included furniture that we called the Monstrosity, trunks, and things everywhere. My parents proceeded to work on redoing the whole house – everything from adding a regular furnace to dropping the ceiling in every room and putting in paneling to add closets.

My brother and I used the drop ceilings as a great place to hide during games of hide and seek. Up until recently there were still places bearing the marks where one of us had accidentally missed a step and let a leg fall through the ceiling tiles.  We would scale the closet shelves in each room and then hide on the ceilings, making sure to stay on the 2 by 4 planks that the ceiling tiles were nailed to.  I think we even had set up pillows, sleeping bags and more in the section at the top of my brother’s closet, because he had the big closet that took up the whole end of his room.  The house wasn’t built with closets to start with, so the only closets were what was added with paneling.  My parents had replaced the floor to ceiling windows with shorter windows, and added heat.  Because of my allergies they even added central air. Later on they added a whole house wood burning furnace. It was a never ending project…..

At one point though my mother had started to use the fireplace in the living room.  We were far enough out in the country that power outages in the winter could and would happen for lengths of time – I remember one lasting a week and starting the night of the premiere of the headless horsemen on Disney …. I wanted to see that show so bad!  Later in the week my dad had rigged a tractor to use as generator to run a small record player and tv.  (Little things)  Did you realize you can flush a toilet with melted snow?  In the country no power, no water, no heat….

We actually had a tractor/log splitter that we would use with logs from trees my dad had cut down.  After splitting wood, we would make stacks of wood between posts.  Wood actually burns different depending on how green and  how dry it is.  Dry wood will burn very hot!  Our fireplace was set up with a bunch of bricks in front – past that was the wool carpet, but any sparks would land on the brick right outside the fireplace.  The time I remember was my mother swapping to dry birch wood and getting a roaring fire going.  The wood was burning so hot that the bricks got hot enough to start the wood supports in the basement that were holding them up.  My dad was pouring water down on them, tearing everything out – but the fire department still came.

Of course the fire department all had to traipse through the house to look, and they had parked in areas with snow.  Now that we are looking at moving home, we are discussing where to build.  Turns out that fire district still handles that side of the road, but just the other side of the road is a whole different district.  My brother is now living in that house, and the fireplace has now been replaced with an insert – but it’s still there.  The drop ceilings are mostly gone too.