Old-Timey Stuff

This weekend has been full of old-timey stuff. I’ve been alone for most of it, which takes me back to middle school and high school summer vacations where I’d be playing guitar, reading, or working on some sort of project until 2:00 a.m. just because I could. I’ve always been good at keeping myself amused.

Today my mom visited. We went to my great aunt and uncle’s place in one of the oldest suburbs of Minneapolis. They built their house in the late 1950s, but my great aunt (and grandma) actually grew up six houses down from their lot, which her father built in the early 1910s. I didn’t know that until my mom and I had dinner at a nearby Embers. She mentioned that the house had a “For sale by owner” sign posted on it. Being the crazy ladies we are, we decided to go back and pretend that I was interested in the house. (This was partially a bad idea because we sort of lied to our hosts when we left–they assumed we were going our separate ways but really we were going to dinner.)

Anyway, as we pulled up to the house, I saw a dark-skinned man in the front yard getting the mail. Of course my mom says NOTHING as she carefully walks on the tiny sidewalk up to him. I was so embarrassed. Just as I whispered from behind her, “well say hi,” the man said hi. My mom cheerfully responded. (He was Hispanic, which apparently my mother never realized because she had to ask on our way back to my car. She didn’t even recognize the Spanish they were speaking.) Of course after my mom realized that English was not his native language (he spoke very rough English), she started talking like she does to her mostly deaf cousin. Gotta love her…

So he showed us around the grounds, which were in pretty poor shape, but they were making improvements. Finally we got to go inside. It was disgusting, but remnants of the old place were still very clear. The original cupboards were amazingly still there, painted white. The dark wood trim all around still looked beautiful. The open staircase–an amazing mission-style (?) banister and a cris-cross pattern of the dark wood on the wall under the railing were brilliant. Upstairs we saw what my mom later told me was the bedroom she stayed in when she came for visits. It was off a deck on the second floor, which must have been super fun as a kid. The basement was huge and strangely barren.

The only time I really thought about the house’s history was in the basement when I pictured jars of peaches and pickles lining the walls of a small room probably used for food storage. In the car after the tour, my mom said that the only thing really different was the upstairs bathroom off the kitchen, which had been a pantry. After she said that, I felt remorse, wishing I had tried to feel my grandma’s presence there, try to feel the house’s past more. I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandma lately, so seeing the house she grew up in was sort of the pinnacle. I’m glad we did it.

The other big old-timey thing I’ve been up to lately has been folk music. Like real folk music–the stuff Dylan was into. This new trend has been quietly mustering in the back of my head for several months now…I borrowed the Anthology of American Folk Music from the library but didn’t listen much to it, I finally got into Bob Dylan, I felt like playing guitar again, learned that my grandpa played fiddle, I had been into Johnny Cash for a while, one of my friends kept talking about the Carter Family…all these things have added up to a new obsession. It seems easy to say that the Carter Family are quickly becoming a new favorite, but maybe it wouldn’t be easy to say for some people. The music is astounding, I can’t get over it. It drains me every time I hear a song. I crave it when I’m not listening to it. Same goes for much of what’s on the Anthology of American Folk Music.

Ok, long-ass post. Thanks for reading, if you’ve even gotten this far.

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