Saturday, August 26, 2006

Windmills and Pitchforks

My Grandpa Tom - not Thomas, just Tom - was born August 16, 1874 in Flamborough. Remember I told you about his dad (my great-grandpa James) bringing the family to America and finally settling in Kansas. Grandpa Tom married my grandma in 1908....her name was Tony (sometimes spelled Toni) and she was quite a bit younger than him. They had four children - two sons (one of which was my dad) and twin daughters. Tom and Tony had a ranch in the southwest part of Kansas and I'm sure it wasn't always an easy life.

This is a photo of the young family. Left to right: In front one of the twins, behind her is my Uncle James (the oldest) then Grandpa, Grandma, my dad almost hidden, and the other twin. How stark does that background look?!!

I can remember their house just as though I visited yesterday. I loved spending time in the basement which had several bedrooms and an old victrola with a crank and thick records to play on it. Grandma liked to read those old romance magazines and there were stacks of them down there, too. It was an entertainment mecca for a young girl like me.

Another thing I remember is the wonderful way the pantry smelled. It always smelled of spices. I wish I could duplicate those smells in my own home. There was one of those kitchen towels on the wall....the kind that has a linen towel on a roller. For some reason it fascinated me! And the kitchen cabinets had built in bins for flour and such. Grandma did a lot of cooking and baking!

The sound I remember inside was the mantel clock chiming. In the yard there was a big windmill and I can still hear it creaking in the wind. Both of those sounds are forever in my "sound" memory....a bit like a favorite tune that keeps rolling around in your head.

Visually I can see zinnias in the yard (Grandma's favorite flower), fruit trees and a garden for veggies. The barn was a little scary because it was dark with cobwebs in the corners.

This is the house on their small ranch. Later they moved to a bigger ranch and a bigger house but this is the house I visited most often when I was a child.

I loved arriving at the ranch, usually at night because we drove from Illinois straight through in one day, and Grandma and Grandpa would be standing on the back porch waiting for us. Grandma was a big woman and when she hugged me it was so soft and cushiony.

This is a photo of Tom and Tony in later years. They look so serious!! Actually Grandpa had a very dry sense of humor, loved whimsical jokes and witty sayings. I've been told I have a resemblance to Tony. What do you think??

I only saw them once a year for about two weeks and I didn't know them like I knew my mom's parents (who I saw every week) but they were still Grandma and Grandpa and I loved them. I don't have many tangible items from this side of the family. But I do have two items that mean a lot to me......

These are two candleholders made from pitchforks from Grandpa's ranch. After my grandparents were gone the ranch was sold but the family kept several tools and had them made into candleholders. I love these and every time I look at them I can smell Grandma's pantry and hear the windmill creaking.


  1. WOW!! Love those pitch fork candle holders. They are so beautiful and such special reminders of your family. Love the old stories too.

    Thanks for your nice comments on my blog.

  2. Janet,
    I think this is one of the best posts you've ever written. The wonderful memories you shared are just priceless!
    My KY grandparents had a victrola also! (which my Dad now has)
    What a creative way to preserve a bit of the ranch's history by making those candlesticks.

  3. What a wonderful walk down memory lane, I swear I can smell the cooking from your description. It's so essential to perserve such memories as it keeps them forever alive. You were so lucky to have had those times with them and the candlesticks as another tangible reminder. Thank you for sharing. Makes me now want to get out the old photos I have.

  4. What a lovely rememberance. It`s funny how when your young all these things are just there,smells, sounds, little things but when older they become such poignant memories.
    I think I see a bit of resemblance.
    Off to get ready for my afternoon visit :).


  5. I do see a resemblance. I think there would be more of one if Tony were smiling in the picture - your smile lights up your face!

  6. Thats so cool,,I think those candleholders would be a treasure for me too. So neat how you remember those things that were special to you,,like the smells and the rooms. I think you do resemble Toni,,in the eyes,,what do you think?

  7. What a wonderful idea of having the forks made into candle holders. How sweet. I love all the old pictures too.

  8. Thanks to each and every one who commented here. I do so enjoy your comments and eagerly look forward to them.


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