Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The house that Gust built

Left to right: Gust wearing bib over alls, Andreas Opseth, Olaf with his hand on his hip, and Benhard Ranum with both hands on his hips wearing a tie.

Before we go inside, let's look at the structure itself. Look at the foundation of stone while you remind yourself the same stone work were the walls of the basement. The house was stucco. Look at the chimney. Why do you think it was extended?

The picture was taken in late spring, look for the blossoms on the lilac bush in the foreground. Lilacs typically bloomed in mid to late May in Northern Minnesota. Gust planted cedar seedlings he had purchased at New Maine Township, MN on the front side near the door. It is possible the lumberjack part of Gust cut down most of the poplar trees we are seeing in the picture.

The rooms that Gust built would have been called a three room house. The room in the front was of good size. The two rooms at the back of the house were a small room which may have served as a bedroom and the other room may have served as a pantry.

One entered the house through an oak door which had a large oval window. Stand in the doorway just a moment to get your bearings. The bedroom door and the pantry door are accessible from the main room. Can't see the door? That is because this picture is taken from the back of the house. There has been some discussion about just what angle it was taken but look where the chimney is. After the house was remodeled, the heating system was in the same place. The addition was to the west. That makes the chimney on the west side of the present house.

Think about old wooden cook stoves with a water reservoir. Try to imagine with me what kind of furnishings there may have been. We know there was a table and chairs because that is where most people of this time sat to eat, visit, read, and play cards. Considering the lighting of the time, I would put the table near the window on the same wall as the door. The bedroom would have had an iron bed with open springs. For all of you who like to jump on beds, this bed would have made a host of squeaking noises. The house would have smelled of wood burning and bachelors.

Bachelors had a special odor. Mother called in PHEW. They didn't bathe often and worked up lather. Uncle Bennie was a bachelor too. He also had a three room house. When a house is sparsely furnished, it looks bigger than it really is. In his kitchen he had a stove and a table with an oil cloth on the table. The bedroom had a open spring bed and a chair. When uncle Bennie came to my grand parent’s house for Christmas, one hoped the aroma of the Christmas feast would over power the bachelor smell. Remind yourself they probably fried everything they ate. You get enough grease on the walls it also smells rancid. Yes, Mother, it was PHEW!

Let's review:
North side of house. Front door and one window
West side of house. Two windows and a chimney.
South side of house. Two windows
East side of house. Later there was one window, it may have always been there but is not visible in this photo

May your lilacs bloom!


1 comment:

Susi said...

Oh how I miss the smell of lilacs! there are none here in the part of Arizona where I live. maybe up north here is, but I don't know. The last time remember smelling real lilacs was when i was in college in lewiston idaho, where there was a HUGE lilac bush just down the street from my apartment. i can still remember that smell, and I hope to never lose the memory!