Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Robert Kennedy, South Africa 1966.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Remembering the Cole House

This is the house that my grandfather's father built.  It was on the corner of 13th and Burnett here in Ames.  When I was a boy my great aunts (my grandfather's sisters lived here.  Aunt Liz was the oldest and did all the cooking when I was little.  She had gone to North Dakota to homestead and sold her homestead and came back here.  The house did not have a refrigerator when I was young nor a gas stove.  They had an "ice box" and an  iron stove where Aunt Liz cooked.  She had a household allowance and would walk all over town to save a few pennies. One of my favorite stories about her was when she got so she could not do the shopping.  She would make out the grocery list for her sisters to do the shopping that she had loved to do.  At the bottom of the list she wrote "Go to Hell."  She was not happy that they made her give it up. She had the bed room in the front of the house on the right side. I think they called it the "front room."  It was the room you entered as you came in the front door and that was where the TV was after they got one. They had a large radio also..

 The house had been built in sections and the left side of the house had a dining room which connected with a bedroom that my great Aunt Avis used.  It had been her father's bedroom earlier so there was also another bedroom upstairs that Aunt Avis had used.  She had been a 2nd grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School.  My other great aunt Kate had a bedroom upstairs.  There was also a large room which the boys had used.  Kate had a sort of suite of rooms that were above the dining room.  I used to stay with her when I stayed there on Saturday Nights.  I spent every Saturday night there with them. Kate worked at Iowa State College.
 The house had a lot of big trees in front of it that the city wanted to take out when they put in 13th Street.  My great grandfather would not let them take the trees and so they were there and 13th Street has a "jog" in it to this day. The kitchen was large enough to have a table in it where we could eat most of the time and a pantry where the ice box.  There was also another room between the parlor and the dining room that connected to the bathroom and to a stair that went down to a dug out cellar.  We used to sit on those steps when there was a storm.  My great-aunts were afraid of storms. Across the front of the house was a nice screened in porch,
We used to have large Cole family reunions at the house and family from all over would gather on the front lawn and there would be good food and lots of fun. My grandfather was one of nine children and they dispersed all over.  I would not know most of them today. When we ate inside the large dining room and kitchen were all used and there was a "children's table" where we kids ate set up in the walk through room. It was a bright airy room with something which my aunt called a "what not" which had a lot of little figurines and objects d'art on it. I used to play with some of them.  Perhaps that is why I have a shelf full of similar things to this day.

My grandfather's brother Lewie John used to bring his wife (another Kate called Kate Mike as her maiden name was McMichael) to eat on a Saturday night and he would load us up and take us for a drive.  Many times he would go out to Red's Barber Shop in Campus town and get his hairs cut while we waited in the car.  I can remember one time when I could finally stretch across the backseat of his old Nash Rambler and reach from my head to my toes.

These were a part of my extended family.  I walked to my great Uncle Lew and Aunt Kate's place every day for lunch and spent Wednesday nights at their place. They lived in the house at 522 Crawford that my great grandfather Underwood build.

I know that every person has a wonderful family.. well most everyone.  I am extremely fortunate to have had the one I had.

The house at 522 Crawford still stands the house at 13th and Burnett was torn down and the Assembly of God church built a large church there. I am sure that it would have come down eventually but I will always remember with fondness the Cole House.


Dianne said...

I especially love the 2nd photo!!

Ur-spo said...

I love houses with stories like this.

Victor said...

Thanks for sharing all of this, Jay. What a wonderful, warm stroll through this house of memories with you.