When Grandma and Grandpa bought the house they shared for more than fifty years, they made a deal. If Grandma wanted something changed, she was to tear it down and he’d fix it back up. Little did he know the ramifications of such a deal.
I’m sure there were a lot of minor things that got changed this way. However, the only ones that have made it into the annals of family history are those that follow.
The Windows: Grandma felt that there was too little light coming into her dining room. She wanted windows installed. So, one day, Grandpa came home to find most of the side of the house bare both inside and out. The only thing that gave them some privacy were the quilts Grandma hung over the openings.
Dutifully, Grandpa installed the windows. They were huge and they did bring in a lot of light. There was one thing that struck me as odd when I was a child. These windows went basically from the floor to the ceiling, but they were casement windows. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any done like that elsewhere.
The Bathroom: This is one that may not be easy to understand if you’re younger than sixty. In fact, for many, it may still be hard to understand. Houses built at that time did not have bathrooms. In fact, many didn’t have indoor toilets. Bathing was done in the kitchen in big tubs, and the other needs were met by an outhouse.
Grandma wanted a bathroom. So, once again, Grandpa came home to find a side of the house with missing interior and exterior walls, hung with quilts. I have a feeling that by now he was beginning to regret his promise. However, he got to work.
Installing windows is easy in comparison to installing a complete, working bathroom at any point in time. It took a while before this renovation was complete. I suspect it didn’t help that there were children under foot and enjoying some of the novel construction elements. If I recall correctly, my mother found a way to use one of the boards as a slide. Grandpa was not amused.
The Basement: My mother did not like this project much. However, it was a bit easier on the house; Grandma didn’t have to tear anything down to get it. Originally, the house did not have a basement. So, in order to fulfill Grandma’s wish, Grandpa had to jack it up off the ground and then dig it out.
Mom, being the youngest and therefore smallest, had to do a lot of the digging. Once there was more room, everyone else helped, but it was a dirty project and not one of mom’s more favorite childhood memories.
When I was a child, I loved my grandparents’ house. The basement had many hide and go seek hidey-holes and the big windows in the dining room let in a lot of light, even in winter. I will point out that my husband did not make that same deal with me…he heard those stories long before we got married.