Well, I certainly haven’t been doing this much lately. But I went to post a comment to my Pop’s latest article tonight, and I got kicked out because of writing too long. I guess I come by my sometimes verbosity honestly, at least. So, I’m posting some comments to my Pop’s post, Reunion.
Well, Pop. I finally got to reading this post of yours. Perhaps you didn’t learn the lesson after all; I don’t think you are a lousy photographer whatsoever. We discussed it a while back, but I too had the shock of seeing the pile of dirt there where our little Foursquare parsonage used to be. That was sad for me as well. I had quite a few fond memories there from our short time.
I remember sliding down the little hill in the winter on my aluminum disk with Mittens the funny little black and white cat on my lap. He used to love that so much, he’d come bounding up the hill after me to go again. He was my best bud ever since we brought him home to the previous house out there on CR222 and he jumped out to run away only to fall straight in the ditch. Since I fished him out and dried the little scudder off, we were the best of friends. He’d follow me up to the school there at Foursquare and hang around until he figured I wasn’t coming out for a while but then come back up to greet me later in the day.
I also remember mowing the lawn there at the house; I guess I was just big enough. I think it was a borrowed mower with a power drive, but I remember pressing the throttle down and having it crawl right up the hill. Finally getting another one of those here in the past couple years, I think about that just about every time I power our mower up one of the hills here at the house that are at least as steep. I remember the greengage plums we had in what I recall being a pretty big grove and I think an apple tree out back as well.
I also remember that being the time and place where I got one of my last spankings. I’d done something or other I oughtn’t to have, Mom told me to bend over and walloped me with the wooden spoon, and I promptly turned around and laughed at her. I don’t know that I actually said something as smart ass as, “Is that all you got,” but that was definitely the sentiment.
I found the County Road 222 house myself quite a few years ago now; one of the first times I made a sentimental journey back up that way from Albuquerque. I remember the turnoff being pretty much the same and the road running south along the west side of a fairly big valley. The house was pretty much the same when I saw it, but I have no idea what that’s all like now. Besides the Mittens incident, I recall a couple of things from that place. I remember my best friend, Bret Barton, at the time who lived across from us. We used to have a ball running around the hills and fields there playing all kinds of games and making big adventured for ourselves. I remember the sewage lagoon and the big bullfrogs we’d try to hit with rocks thrown from far enough away to avoid the splash back. I remember the sheep we had at the time and the cockleburs that would get matted up in their wool. I remember my little brother’s first bike as a birthday present and how excited I was to run the string all around the shed and the house that he had to follow to find it.
Of course, my favorite place around the Durango area was the great log house out at the mouth of La Plata Canyon that we were fortunate enough to live in for a time. Though we were only there for a short while, I feel that I found and possibly still have a piece of my heart there somehow. The times you all let me hike off into the wilderness and all the times we spent there together exploring the hard rock mines and the high country above timberline did something to my soul that can’t be taken back. I’ve been back there countless times now over the years, into the headwaters of the La Plata. I’ve had adventures all back up in those hills; the latest being just last fall when I stopped over myself on a trip back along my memories. I spent one cold night camping up above 10K feet (of course, camping for me now usually means a comfy night in my great big truck camper) and explored yet another side canyon I hadn’t been up before.
I also did enjoy your telling of the time at Grandma’s house in Scottsdale, and I’m grateful for the pictures as well. What a difference with the remodel that Stan and Elaine did there! In my mind’s eye, I still see all the fascinating antique furniture and strange little knick-knacks that Grandma and Great Grandma collected and placed all around so carefully. I can remember how the top of the cast Don Quixote head felt as he stood guard there by the never used and quite ridiculous (for Phoenix) fireplace. I remember the pictures of quite a few ancestors going back aways that I used to spend time studying and wondering about when I was there as a boy. I remember what her house smelled like – somehow clean and fresh and something else welcoming that I can’t quite put my finger on. More than anything, I remember what it felt like – even though it was probably more of an old lady’s house when I was a boy, it somehow felt more like home than anywhere else. I think it was Grandma Ruth herself who was solid and foundational in my life in a way that I am eternally grateful for but have never been able to quite explain fully in words. She imparted a sense of family through love, tenderness, and acceptance despite the fact that our family from her point on down had a fair bit of brokenness and both old and new pain through time.
I’m a bit sad that you summed up with the “lousy photographer” remark. I truly appreciated your memories and the chance to travel along with you on your journey. You helped spark some more memories for me as well. Some other time, I’ll tell you about my own adventures in Chama and Farmington and other parts around Durango and still other areas we’ve been over the years like a trip back through Norco I took some time ago. Thanks for the memories, Pop.