Monday, June 22, 2009

The Old Stone House in Mahattan, Kansas - Part 3

The old stone house not only represented the home we could return to (and frequently did) and the place we saw our extended family, it also gave us roots of sorts, the kind many military families don't have. Over the years we improved the place, added apple and cherry trees, a hammock in the back along with the picnic table. Leif was never interested in a yard and hated doing yard work, though he did get roped into some of it to help out, and he wasn't sentimental (or at least claimed he wasn't) about things like houses and yards, but I am a firm believer that in many ways geography has great influence in our lives, and that house and yard were part of our geography.

Leif was living there when he met Nikko, and for a time she lived there, too. He brought her there for dinner, back from the army for vacations and Christmases. Later he brought J. and her daughter there, and they spent one Thanksgiving and Christmas with us there. The house had to hold many memories for him, as it did for us.

It was not in any way modern. The fixtures were old, There wasn't a level or straight floor or wall in the place, as the old house had settled in the Kansas gumbo over the years. While we had put on a new roof, painted, refinished floors, and put in a shower, the house itself was fairly immutable. The yard was not. If you look back over the posts about the house, you can see how what was fairly barren and unattractive became a green oasis. Peter W. loved to go out and "inspect" the lush greenery an water it when we were in the growing season. Sometimes we had a vegetable garden. There were old lilacs and forsythia bushes that grew to at least 8 feet tall. Raking or blowing leaves in the fall was a major operation with over 30 trees. For half the year it was a lovely place, but the other half, when the leaves were off the trees, could look bleak.

The house had no ductwork, since the heating system was hot water radiators, and there was no air conditioning in it when we bought it. We installed one window AC on each floor and that kept it passably cool. When we move back into the house in 1990 both needed to be replaced and eventually Leif helped us put them both in. We appreciated his immense strength and his ability to figure out all kinds of mechanical and technological things.

We lived back in the house from September 1992 until April 2005. The house served us well and it was a significant part of Leif's life, all our lives.
The photos from top to bottom are:
1. 804 Moro Street in the snow on February 2, 2004
2. 804 Moro Street in the snow on February 6, 2004. What a difference between a sunny and cloudy day!
3. 804 Moro on April 9, 2004 with the apple tree in bloom.
4. The northeast corner of the back yard on May 20, 2002. This corner was a favorite play area when the kids were younger. There had once been a swing set there. Peter Anthony once had a playhouse there made from a big old plywood moving crate, and later a hideout constructed of branches. Much later, Peter W. had a vegetable garden there, and planted a tree for each of our grandchildren.
5. The old fashioned roses that grew outside the sun porch windows on the east side of the house. They were there when we bought the house to totally overgrown until we cleaned the area out and trimmed them.

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