The riot of golden color outside the window captured my young imagination. The color, size, and beauty of a mature maple. This is my most vivid memory of grandma’s house. Everything was so foreign to this California girl beginning with a house built in the early twentieth century. The small garage that surely could not contain a 1950s car. The pantry that was long and narrow where all of the food preparation occurred. It was filled with devices I had never seen: a coffee mill, a stove top toaster and other mysterious things. And as a modern juxtaposition, the small “kitchen” where the refrigerator and oven sat near an aluminum, formica and vinyl table set.
Rosalyn (mom) standing by the garage 1930ish Edwin and Ella (Wolf) Rachow celebrating 50th Anniversary in the dining room
The furniture in the living and dining room was massive and from an earlier era. Grandpa’s pipes were set on the standing ashtray with the lingering sweet smell of tobacco. Sound was muffled and all you could hear was the tick tock of the beautiful German clock on the wall. The carpeted floor was covered with rugs and small ottomans to rest your feet on as you sat and visited. It became my job to run the carpet sweeper over the floor once every day … the sweeper a small device that could easily be pushed, collecting small pieces of leaves or thread. Grandpa’s cherry wood desk sat in the corner with a light that flickered and slightly hummed when turned on. Over the dining room table, a beautiful Tiffany lamp focused light down upon the table covered with a beautiful lace tablecloth. I always felt that it was a place to be quiet, some challenge for a young tom-girl.
The bedrooms and only bathroom were upstairs. You had to navigate a narrow stairway to arrive there. The bathroom was right at the top of the stairs and a beautiful blue color with a door. There was a door that opened to nothing but the outside, no porch or stairs. There was a bear-claw bathtub. And three spare but comfortable bedrooms. It was out one of those bedroom windows that I was captured by the stunning fall colors.
I have no memory of the basement. Did I never go down there? I do remember being out on the back porch, helping grandma do the wash in a tub with a hand wringer on top of it. I remember laying on the grass looking up through the leaves to the sky. Only sweet memories.
It was the only home that Grandpa and Grandma ever owned. They lived there from sometime after 1910 until Grandpa died in 1963 when I was 12 years old. Grandma moved out to San Diego to live with mom, her only child and grandchildren. She was 78 years old. I cannot imagine how difficult it would have been to leave everything that was her life .. her husband gone, her home gone. She was away from her extended family, her church that she had attended since she was a baby. Grandma lived with us three years until her death in 1966.