Wednesday, February 7, 2018
A story about our family and this house was among early blog posts in 2010 (I began the blog in 2009) but I found this article recently when I was sorting a box of kept stuff. Our family still mentions our experience there fondly; we never pass through Jacksonville without driving by and remembering. The historical marker acquired by my research still stands.
This photo and article appeared in the ARCO Spark, a company periodical, while we still owned the house but after we had moved back to Plano. Little did we know at the time that 2 years later we would be living in the Los Angeles area for a year before moving home and family to Jakarta, Indonesia in 1987!
Below I have included the story I wrote in 2010.
Eudora Welty said that “One place understood helps us understand all places better.” and “There may come to be new places in our lives that are second spiritual homes closer to us in some ways, perhaps, than our original homes. But the home tie is the blood tie. And had it meant nothing to us, any other place thereafter would have meant less, and we would carry no compass inside ourselves to find home ever, anywhere at all. We would not even guess what we had missed.”
I am grateful for my growing up place, within a family helping me understand people will always be more important than place. Odd, because that family of origin mostly stayed in one place: rural and small town East Texas. Important, because after I left home at 17 for college, so many places would take their turns in becoming the place of home. One brief passage of time the leaving and the return intersected to be called home. I do believe we make our homes where we are, but there are times when we have a more intimate connection with the place of home. My favorite place happened to be at that intersection,one which my family occupied for only slightly more than a year. But I still have pictures of it hanging on my wall and a doll house replica that my grandchildren love. I think each of us would vote it our favorite house.
When my sons were 13, 10, and 8, we bought a 100 year old Victorian house on 3 acres of oaks and magnolias and pecan trees in East Texas. It was in the hometown where both my husband and I grew up, so both his mother and my parents still lived there at that time. There had been some renovation to the house in the 1940's, but not much since, so there was much that was necessary to live there safely and comfortably. We restored, repaired, renovated, and resuscitated in ways we never knew we had any skill for. We stripped the staircases to find tiger oak, pulled up carpet to find lovely wood floors, added wood burning heaters, updated plumbing and electricity and found ways that old houses need you that amazed us. It was a wonderful adventure.
During the time we were there, I did the research and writing necessary to acquire state historical landmark designation for the house, which was built for John Wesley Love in 1904, to house his wife and 13 children. He had 700 acres of peach orchards adjacent to the house, which was built near the railroad tracks. We discovered that my father and uncle had picked peaches in the orchards, and that Joe's Daddy had painted and wallpapered there in the 40's. It has been 26 years since we lived there, but I can still feel the sway of the porch swing and smell the fragrance of the wisteria dripping from the trees. It was work to live there, but it was magic.
The planned changes in my husband's job did not happen, and we knew our boys needed a father at home more than they needed a certain house, but oh, we loved it. Since we went back there for visits to relatives, we went by the house every time, and I cried every time for years!
Strangely, it took another turn of events in our family life for me to honestly say goodbye to it. Over 15 years after we left it, with the house having gone through several owners, it was very expensively refurbished and opened as a venue for receptions and weddings and other events. When my son and his fiancée planned their small wedding, we arranged to have it there. The bride’s dressing room was Sean's old bedroom! The gathering room for guests was our master bedroom. The ceremony was held in front of the fireplace in the parlor where we had celebrated my parents' 50th wedding anniversary in 1982. The wedding was wonderful; the house was grand in her new finery. She didn't need me anymore, and I felt a closure I had been unable to achieve before. Neither Joe nor I have any living relatives there anymore, but I still say hello to the house when go back to our hometown. I can almost see the 3rd story cupola window wink back at me.
I am glad that although a sign now marks it as commercial offices, that place speaks home to me. I am even more glad that after many years and many moves, I am rooted (not root bound) in my present place. I love being at home.
Saturday, April 9, 2016
When I was sorting out saved stuff in my closet, I came across several items loosely wrapped in a piece of tissue paper, itself saved from a long ago gift. I held the bits and pieces in my hand and realized they made a collage, a portrayal of my emotions and mixed feelings about leaving this home and this part of my life. There were pieces of a lovely painted glass globe a friend gave us many years ago that was a tiny painting of the lovely old East Texas Victorian house we bought and moved to for a far too short time. During the months we were there, I researched and wrote the history of the place, submitted it to the historical society, and received a State historical marker - not for me, for the house. In a later time, the pretty piece was knocked from its stand, leaving only shattered pieces which I kept.
There were some pieces of filigree silver jewelry from our time in Indonesia, all tarnished and worn. There was a tiny safety pin with beads strung on it, one of the many "friendship pins" that our youngest son and his friend exchanged in first grade, when we lived in yet another place. And there was a piece of foil where that same son had written "To Mom, Love Ben." I do not remember what it was attached to, but I kept the crumpled paper with his writing during his college days. All these were folded in the wrinkled tissue printed with the name of shop where it was used to wrap a purchase: Things Remembered. I decided I would keep my little packet but I really do not need these reminders. They are indeed, "Things Remembered."
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
My youngest son, Ben, was game to help me pry out over 200 nails from the seat of the chair and scrub it down to get rid of the insect homes and cobwebs. I had never done caning, but I ordered a piece of cane webbing, spline, chisels and glue which cost more than the chair had. We soaked the webbing, pounded the spline into the groove of the shaped seat and watched in amazement as it all dried and began to tighten to make a new seat. We got more white paint on us than on the chair, but began to feel a sense of pride as this beautiful Victorian rocker emerged to take its place in our new old home. When I rock a grandchild in it or tuck a pillow in its seat, I still have a sense of all the stories it could tell me. One story would be that of a rescue.