Older Than Dirt: A Photo Challenge Part 2


Hi there!

This is my 2nd entry to Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge:  Older Than 50 Years.  As usual, my photos are more about the stories that go with them, and less about the photographic composition.   I’ll have to make this short and sweet though, because I seem to have gotten tendonitis in both of my elbows and my right arm is flaring up right now.  And if you really believe that will keep me from writing a long dissertation then I have some swamp land under the Leo Frigo Bridge I would like to sell you.

Last post (you can read it here if you missed it) I told you about a mini family reunion we had and the stalking finding of our 3rd cousin Randy, still living on the original Conard family farm.

Our jolly caravan’s next stop was to visit my grandparents cottage on the bay, where we spent many a spider-filled day.  The original plan was to park on the road and peer thru the leaves at it while trying not to be noticed (or arrested), and then mosey on to my house for lunch.  However we were spotted by the current owner, Callista, who graciously invited us in and let us run amok on her property while we ooohed and aaaahed over our collective memories.

Callista was as thrilled to hear our stories as we were to hear hers.  While the interior is completely different, much of the exterior has the same feel, mainly because they kept the original stonework of the outside walls and fireplace – built with bay rock picked from the shore by the original owner (not my grandparents).

The door is gone, but you can see the space where it was.  That door survived a lot of grandchildren banging in and out of it all summer.  My sister and I got a little teary eyed walking across the cement steps.  Lots of memories there.

The door is gone, but you can see the space where it was. That door survived a lot of grandchildren banging in and out of it all summer. My sister and I got a little teary eyed walking across the cement steps. Lots of memories there.

The same wet cement steps that our young feet ran across when we banged thru the wooden screen door into the cottage to play crazy eights and drink bug juice. The same stoney corridor along the outside back of the house where chips of blue china were cemented in the grout and waves of bright green moss spilled across the top.  The same slab stone steps leading to the same rocky beach with the same boat house, although the front portion was gone.  They even had a hammock where my grandparents used to have one.

New, steel supported steps were built over the top of the old stone slab steps leading down to the beach.  Much safer, but I am glad they left the old ones underneath.

New, steel supported steps were built over the top of the old stone slab steps leading down to the beach. Much safer, but I am glad they left the old ones underneath.

What was missing?  Besides the front section of the boat house, I spotted only a few spiders – most of them quite small.  I swear when we were kids the spiders were the size of quarters and had huge bulbous abdomens and they hung on EVERYTHING.  I remember calling for grandpa to beat webby paths thru them in order to get the bamboo fishing poles or the black inner tubes we used for swimming.  Before going to bed my cousins and I would call for grandma to spider proof the bedrooms and make sure we didn’t have any in our sheets.

A note about the boathouse:  As kids, we spent very little time in it (spider haven – the really really big ones lived inside the boat house) but a lot of time on top of it, as it served as a beach deck.  A web and spider covered beach deck which I recall being a bit freaked out about.  Are you picking up what I’m putting down here?  I hated spiders.  Still actually not a fan.

Anyway, my grandfather got a really good deal on some irregular cinder block – which couldn’t have been too bad seeing as the boat house is still standing.  He sent my Uncle Jim and my dad and some guy who had access to a milk truck to go pick it up.  Now remember, this was the early 40’s so you need to get that image out of your head of the giant tanker trucks you see running around today.  This was probably more like a 1935 panel truck or something.

My uncle, my dad, and the driver were hauling the load of cinder blocks to the cottage when the transmission broke.  My uncle said they “broke gear box” just as they were about to go down the escarpment to the cottage.  I’m not sure what that hill looked like in the 40’s but I can barely ride my bike up it now without needing oxygen, so I’m sure it wasn’t any better.  It was, needless to say, a harrowing descent, well remembered by two mid-80 old farts.

They laughed when they told this story, but fewer smiles appeared when they described how they had to haul that cinder block down to the beach two at a time in a wheelbarrow.  Which leads me to the next tidbit – there was a family of girls in the next cottage down – one of whom still lives there and happened to come talk to us while we were visiting.  I am sure there were many girlish eyes stealing glances at the sweaty teenage boys building muscles while hauling cinder blocks….

Obviously we had to take our picture on top of that iconic building and I was a little worried about the actual structural integrity left in those old block walls.  All that boyish hard work paid off however, because the boat house still supported the weight of a bunch of older than dirt cousins.  I was impressed.

We are all over 50, and the boathouse is over 75, so we all qualify.  The railing is new, thank goodness....

We are all over 50, and the boathouse is over 75, so we all qualify. The railing is new, thank goodness….

Old fartedly yours,

Sue

PS.  Besides frightening long lost relatives and imposing on complete strangers, we also visited the cemetery to say howdy to our Belgian immigrant ancestors.  great-great-great grandparents Gillian and  Marie Francoise Nihoul Conard and our great-great grandparents Louis and Marie Flore Laurent Conard and our other great-great grandparents Joseph and Mary T Boulet VanCaster (whose daughter Pelagie Blanche married Louis and Marie’s son Julian (my great grandfather), in turn having my grandfather Cliff Conard who then had my father – Thomas W. Conard).  I have pictures below for my family members who were not able to make the reunion, and of course for any weirdos of my followers who happen to have a bit of a morbid streak like me and love looking at old grave markers.  I also included a few bonus pics.  ENJOY!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

27 thoughts on “Older Than Dirt: A Photo Challenge Part 2

  1. Cathy

    Clearly you experienced more spiders than I did , Sue. The only spider havens I recall are the basement….,,I refused to enter, and of course I could only go a few steps into the boathouse…..yes spiders but also that dead fish smell!!!! My bunk bed never had spiders. I felt safe and cozy! Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    1. Sue Post author

      Yes I can honestly say I hate that hill from a biking perspective. It’s short but the final ascent is killer. I was down to 3 miles per hour last time and had to hop off and walk.

      Reply
  2. treerabold

    Sounds like a fun trip down memory lane!! How nice of the current owners to let you poke around. I’d love to see the inside of my grandparents old farm house….maybe one day I’ll get brave enough to snoop around the yard long enough to get caught and invited in! Or shot?

    Reply
    1. Sue Post author

      It was a wonderful fun day, Tree! I certainly hope if you ever get a chance to visit your grandparents old farm house that you would be invited in, but bring Sonya with you as insurance. She will not only get you in the door but probably get you pizza and ice cream on top of it!

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Hands, Feet or Paws | Cee's Photography

  4. Pingback: Cee’s Weekly Wrap Up – August 8, 2015 and WPC Beneath Your Feet | Cee's Photography

  5. El Rolyat

    I love these last two stories!
    I too am of either Walloon or Huguenot descent – my family were lace makers who moved to England (and ultimately Manchester, where my Dad again lives). Both my parents are busy with ancestry research most of their waking moments. I find it fascinating, especially since they have recently moved back to the UK and I can visit some of the places my ancestors roamed way back then.
    Piet is also of Huguenot descent–but his ancestors moved to The Cape of Good Hope–so we could all be related!

    Reply
    1. Sue Post author

      Small world – how cool would it be to find out we are related? I think the desire to know our roots increases as we age – we realize how short life is and suddenly have a desire to know our ancestors and a respect for our origins and culture awakens. When we are young, we just want to experience everything the world has to offer but as we age, we realize all those things came on the backs of those who lived before us. Very humbling! 🙂

      Reply
      1. El Rolyat

        I think you are correct there. When I was younger I really wasn’t interested, but now I wish I had taken more notice of the stories my Grandmother used to tell me about my various cousins and aunts and uncles (she was the youngest of 21 children, so had a few tales to tell!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s