I took a ride to Stringtown recently with my friend Jerry on his four-wheeler, and a four-wheeler is the way to travel this road, let me tell ya.
I hadn’t been out there in about a year, and things have changed. There’s a new owner, an English fellow. Yes, really. I don’t think they intend to keep livestock as they’ve torn down the goat house and other small outbuildings and they’re currently storing lumber in the chicken house. However, the place is looking great, and I’m just happy to see the farm being tended again. For those of you who remember the farm as it was when I was there, I hope you’ll enjoy taking a look as much as I did.
This first photo, of me peeking into the house, was taken by Jerry. The rest of the photos were taken by me.
Oh, my, I did love that view so much. Chicken house filled with lumber instead of eggs:
The driveway of terror….. Of course, at this time of year, it’s just fine.
We checked out the old family cemetery across the road, and it’s in bad shape. I’m going to head back and get it fenced with a little gate, and the Ornery Angel and her husband offered to help me keep it up.
I never see my grandfather’s grave with that little “Daddy” marker without remembering the story my dad would tell every time he took me there, of the day of his father’s funeral, and how my great-grandfather got down on one knee and said, “I’ll be your daddy now.”
My dad, with Ross, Weston, and Morgan at my great-grandparents graves in Stringtown nine years ago.
This photo (below) was taken in 1970. I’m the girl on the right. That’s my father, behind my great-grandfather’s tombstone.
I’ve been going to this little cemetery all my life. Back when we lived at Stringtown Rising, 52 would go over and mow it once or twice a year. I haven’t done anything about it since I left, not knowing how I would take care of it, but I’ve got a plan now, and I’m really happy that the neighbors out there are willing to help. I owe it to my dad. He’s not buried there, but I’ll take care of it for him. He would want that.
While we were riding around, we got to talk to all the old neighbors–the Ornery Angel and her family, Ed, and my favorite–Frank! So much fun. They all seem to find the Englishman interesting, and they like him. When we first drove by the Ornery Angel’s place, I waved, and told Jerry, “She won’t know who I am.” He said, “Oh she’ll know by your hair!” On the way back, we stopped down there and the Ornery Angel said, “I knew that was you–no one else has that hair.” Ha.
There has been a lot of oil work going on in Stringtown, with old roads cleared and new roads carved out, so it was really fun to take off exploring over the hills where we wouldn’t have been able to go before.
It was absolutely beautiful. Only at one place did we find this (very remote) road blocked, by a tree, but Jerry was determined to find a way around it.
And he did.
We also made a stop at the old cabin. When I was a kid, this is where we stayed on our trips (bookended by stopovers at the Slanted Little House). I spent many summers here back in those days, skipping rocks on the river behind the cabin, swinging on grapevines, shooting my dad’s rifle at cans, and screaming at the mice that would skitter under the beds in the cabin at night. There used to be an outhouse behind the cabin, and I remember that as the scariest of all–especially at night!
I can still remember my mother making biscuits in this kitchen. The furnishings in the cabin are exactly as they were when I was a child, except falling apart now. (The property is still owned within the family, but not within my immediate family.)
Overall, I was surprised by how I felt going out there. I wasn’t sure if I’d feel emotional, sad, or what. If you’ve read my book, you know there’s a lot of sentiment and emotion in me for that farm and for Stringtown. Maybe it’s been just long enough? It felt great. I’ve been going to Stringtown all my life. I’m not going to stop, and my years there just add to the history I see when I’m on those roads surrounded by those hills. I feel fortunate that I had a time when I lived there, that I made it a home for children, that I got to know it as well as I did by living there, and I’m also totally okay with not living there anymore. It’s always been a part of me, and I am a part of it, too.
And hey, it’s just over the hill. I can go back any time I want!
P.S. If you haven’t read the book (my life and adventures in Stringtown), you can get it in paperback now.