Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Aunt Phyllis remembers Henry & Susie

Phyllis Phend Mitchell, oldest daughter of Rolland Victor Phend, son of Henry and Susie Yarian Phend, wrote these memories of her grandparents and their home. Published here with her permission.

Grandpa and Grandma Phend's house was big. There was a side porch that ran the length of the kitchen which had a swing at one end. Grandma loved sitting there in warm weather. There was moss rose on both sides of the walk leading to the porch door that opened into the kitchen. There was a big wood range. For her 50th anniversary, in 1942, Uncle Russell bought her a gas range! There was a cupboard, a small sink that had cold water only from a pitcher pump. There was a big round table; a wood shed off the west end; and the door to the pantry on the back porch.

The pantry had a lot of cupboards where Grandma kept the food...and the sugar cookies from Jones Bakery. They never had fresh milk, only canned. We always had to have a cookie when we went to Grandma's. Since there was no milk, we dipped them in a tin cup of cold water. They were delicious!

Also in the pantry, in front of the cupboards, was a lift up cellar door and a door to the back yard where there was a mulberry tree. We always had stained clothes when the berries were in season. They had a large grape arbor with vines on both sides and over the top. My cousins Josephine, Betty and Louise and I loved to sit under the arbor. We talked and played and always ate a few grapes before they were ripe and had belly aches.

Off the kitchen, through a swinging door was the dining room, it probably would be called a great room today. They had a large square table that opened up to seat a lot of us. There was a buffet, a heating stove, a day bed, and Grandpa's big drawing board where he drew his house and building plans. The drawing board had a high stool in front of it. We were never supposed to touch anything but I loved to crawl up on the high stool and just look at all the drawings on the big sheets of paper.

On a shelf in the "dining room" there was a clock that had to be wound daily. And there was Grandma's wood rocking chair. It had a leather seat and a little footstool. Beside the chair was her floor model radio. On the wall above the radio was the telephone, their number was 472. You just lifted the receiver and told the operator the number you wanted! Grandma would call Yontz Grocery Store and read off her list and in a short time they would be delivered to the back door.

There were big double doors off the dining room that went to their bedroom and yet another door led to two large parlor rooms that were used only on special occasions. There was a crank phonograph, a wood and leather davenport that opened into a bed, and a chair. A door opened to the front porch on the east side of the house facing Chauncey Street. The light plant was on the other side of the street. In the other room was a pump organ and stool and some other furniture.

When Aunt Gladys died [July 4th, 1931] her casket was in the room where the organ was. I was about eight years old. All of us cousins were running in and out through the rooms and all the doors, just going in circles. We got scolded for it too. After the funeral everyone was sitting on the front porch reminiscing about the "olden days". The funeral directors were Luckenbills and my dad and uncles had grown up with them. Everyone was laughing and having a good time when just a short time earlier everyone had been so sad. I remember Grandma commenting on that fact.

I thought my grandpa and uncles were the tallest men. At family get-togethers, which were often, they would always seem to be standing together and talking so loud. One time I asked Mom why they were always mad at each other. She didn't understand what I meant at first. I said they were always fighting and arguing. She laughed and said "Oh no, they're not mad at each other, they were just talking politics and like all good Republicans they were talking against the Democrats and giving them the devil." They got quite loud on these occasions, even Grandpa who was really a quiet man.

In the 1930's there were a lot of tramps and hobos that came through town (and the rest of the country). Grandpa fed all of them that stopped at his house. But they had to chop wood or do some kind of chore to earn their meal. Grandma always cooked up big meals for all her men folk with enough for extras. I asked Grandpa why he always fed the tramps and he told me that the Bible says that Jesus was coming back and we would never know when or how. He thought the He might return as a tramp so he took them all in. He even had a building out back where he would let them sleep. We always thought that they somehow had marked the house because Grandpa never turned anyone away.

My Grandfather Phend was a very Godly man. He believed in his Lord and he lived for Him. He was an honest man that probably never received as much as he gave. He was very particular about doing good work. He was a perfectionist and so were his boys... slow, deliberate, good, quality workmen.

1 comment:

Kathy Ackley said...

I remember Grandma and Grandpa Phend's house, too, especially the grape arbor that Mom describes here. I also remember the occasional "tramp" knocking on our back door on South Whitley Street in Columbia City and Mom always giving them something to eat. I really enjoyed reading this, thinking about my dear mother Phyllis and how much she loved her family.