Here come the Irish

My Great Grandpa and Grandma “Lem” short for Lemuel and “Berthy” for Bertha, Crothers were my Grandma Hochstetler’s parents. They lived in a small old farm on the Saint Joseph County side of the Marshall/St. Joe County line, just west of Kenilworth Road. It was from their lines, solidly Irish, that I got my curs'ed curly hair. They were incredibly frugal, and seemingly strict. Their farm consisted of a working outhouse, chicken coop complete with chickens, an old barn, a windmill and well house, and an old house that from my recollection never had any paint on it. I remember going with my mom to visit them fairly often.

There was an old wood porch that led to the kitchen door. It had an old screen door that went “whap” and creeeeak. The inside of the home was straight out of the 1930s. I don’t believe that anything had been changed in the house during that time, including the wallpaper. Because they heated with a wood burning pot bellied stove in their living room, the whole house had that wonderful old smoky smell to it. Grandma Berthy would offer us candy….which was always those chewy orange circus peanuts. We would sit in the living room, quietly, around the stove. I remember grandpa always sitting in the same place at the end of a dark green couch from the 1950s. We weren’t permitted to look around the house. There was another room on the first floor that had a pair of French doors that always remained shut and I often wondered what was behind them. Once I caught a glimpse of shelves full of glassware. Nor were we ever allowed to go upstairs-to this day I have no idea what was up there. We were, however, permitted to go to the outhouse, because there was no indoor plumbing, or peek in at the chickens through an old door frame covered with chicken wire. A small mowed path through tall weeds led to the privy and coop.

Great Grandma Berthy always called us, early in the mornings, to let us know if we had a school delay or cancellation due to snow. I don’t remember much else, except I do remember their funerals. I believe it was Grandpa that died while I was staying with my Aunt Nell in Van Buren, and we had to return early for the funeral. They were in their early 80s when they died.


Andy said…
I've heard the glass-bedecked parlor was pretty common in those days. It would only be opened when company was around, unless, of course, that company included children.

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