Growing up in unsettled family circumstances, at times my young heart yearned for a sanctuary, a place of refuge. A sanctuary is normally a high ceilinged quiet place where souls find rest among pews and hymnals. I found rest in Grandma’s sanctuary which was her quaint modest cottage like home sitting along a dirt road surrounded by fields of wild flowers shaded by a huge canopy of maple trees.
Grandma on her back porch with her children and pump covered in Maple leaves.
Come with me to Grandma’s sanctuary. A screen door opened to a brightly curtained inner door and once inside the veil it took only seconds to recognize the familiar aroma of fresh baked goods, feel the love, and see the warmth of the bright yellow painted walls and white ceiling.
A small TV room was on the right adjacent to the front door and a phone desk complete with a rotary dial phone had a prominent spot by the window. We called the phone “the hotline over the mountain” as she would often converse with our other grandma who lived over there. Everyone was quiet as a church mouse when grandma was in “her” chair and the Lawrence Welk show was broadcast (I still love that show). Family photos adorned the wall papered walls and a long horizontal mirror hung above an old fashioned studio couch.
Back at the door… just ahead of you on the right was her “Morning Comfort cook stove” with stove pipe disappearing through the ceiling which provided heat to the upstairs rooms. When grandkids stayed overnight in the winter grandma would place a brick, heated by the stove, between the cold sheets wrapped in a towel at the foot of our bed, and it felt SO good! There was also a warm can of pretzel sticks sitting on the stove’s upper shelf and many a grandchild enjoyed those salty treats.
A huge rocking chair was on the left by the summer house door and further in on the left sat the family dinner table in the corner with grandkid sized benches tucked in along two walls. Pop’s chair (treated like a throne) was at the head of the table. The rest of her kitchen jutted to the right beyond the cook stove forming an “L” shape to the room where her quaint and well used appliances were located. Pop’s day bed was along the right wall across from the refrigerator. When Pop was napping it was “all quiet” on the premises!
About the summer house… a heavy thick door opened up to a dimly lit room and the aroma of spices was evident from when they used to smoke meat in the room. Another cook stove was along the far wall used for large cooking projects when it was time to make homemade ketchup, can redbeets or other delicasies. The walls of the summer house were adorned with all kinds of things. Shelves of canned goods, empty canning jars, muskrat traps, hide stretchers and tons of pictures from old calendars. The floor was covered with worn and cracked lineoleum and creaked like the deck on Moby Dick’s ship!
We grandkids loved the summer house because grandma turned it into our own special dining room at Thanksgiving time. She would set up a few card tables set with second hand china and bone handled utensils that were dangerously sharp! We sat stoically around the tables and didn’t say a peep so we could hear Uncle Snack say the Thanksgiving prayer in the adjacent room before gorging on bowls full of our own share of home made stuffing and turkey with all the trimmings.
Daughter Betty & some of us G-Kids around 1959
There was unconditional love distributed liberally in Grandma’s sanctuary much like that of her Savior Jesus Christ. You were accepted, warts and all. It was a place of contentment and we wiled away the time playing Scrabble, listening to stories or working on a crossword puzzle. It was a simple time, lives were shared, whether joys or sorrows, over a cup of tea with lemon and plenty of sugar! Even on a meager income Grandma’s kitchen produced many a meal for family or stranger and no one was ever turned away.
We observed her life, a life that changed the course of our family history in Grandma’s sanctuary. It was Grandma’s life because of her Faith! There was music, singing, serving and laughing. Oh the laughing! My my, what a place was my Grandma’s sanctuary!
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