Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunflower Seeds, Lambs and Attics

One of my sweetest childhood memories is visiting my grandparents in South Dakota. My father's parents lived in town and my mother's parents lived on a sheep farm about 4 miles out. They were all wheat growers.

 I loved visiting both sets of grandparents, my  grandpa Gus and grandma Sophie lived just off main street and I loved walking up town to the grocery store to buy a bag of sunflower seeds (evidently I couldn't get them at home). 

Our family with grandpa in front of his house, grandma died when I was 5 years old. I am the oldest.

Grandpa would take me to the tavern uptown for an ice cream cone where all the locals would be sitting around a potbelly stove playing cards and talking about the weather. He would love to take me around and show me off as it were.

Grandpa Gus and I

My grandma and grandpa West, (I don't know why I didn't call them grandma Esther and grandpa Steve, now that I think of it...) anyway, lived on the farm and I loved, loved loved the sheep. My grandpa would put us (my cousins and I) on the back of a young Buck in a stall and watch him buck. I remember just holding on to that wool as tight as I could. And grandpa would laugh along with my uncles. I didn't know there was a name for it until a few years ago, 
Mutton Bust'in.

My grandparents sheep
I used to love to climb over the fence into this pasture and see if there was a Buck in the herd. He didn't run, and he would come charging for you... I stayed close enough to the fence to make it a game.

A picture of the old barn before they burned it to the ground.

My cousins and I... at the farm.
I am the one who's mother didn't care about matching clothes. 
We spent every Christmas in South Dakota, between the two grandparents. They changed every year between hosting Christmas eve (when we opened gifts) and Christmas day dinner. 
One Christmas I will never forget my farm grandparents had just bought about 50 ewes and apparently some of them were pregnant without my grandfathers knowledge. 
I do not know the incidentals, I was maybe 6 at the time but I do remember my grandpa being very upset which was rare. There was quite a stir around the farm as I sat and wondered what everyone was in a fury about.
I didn't have to wonder long, all of a sudden my grandmother came through the kitchen door with a lamb in her arms. It looked dead. She brought it into the living room by the oil burning stove wrapped in a towel and told me to start rubbing the lamb as hard as I could. 
I remember it was covered in what I thought was frozen gelatin and as I rubbed the lifeless little lamb began to move and then it gave out a loud blat...  I almost started crying. 
Soon came another and another all in the same state. 
My grandmother gave me a orange crush bottle with a large black nipple on the end filled with warm milk.
 I remember holding on to it with all my might as the lamb took it and kept butting it.
 I have been in love with lambs ever since then.

But my most absolute favorite thing for me to do was play in the attic. 
The farm had a summer kitchen and from there was a door that led up a spiral staircase to the most enchanting place.
 It was full of magic and wonder. 
I loved the smell of the old wood floor and the trunks full of clothing from the turn of the century to the 20s and 30s. 
My grandmothers white button up shoes, that she was married in, a chiffon ruffled dress from the 20s, that had the most beautiful soft lavender flora print, beautiful cotton lace umbrellas and velvet capes. 
The second floor of the old farmhouse had 4 bedrooms that reminded me of an old hotel.  
My sister, 2 cousins and I played dress up and each took a hotel room, just like in the cowboy shows. 
We would dress up and then all come out of our hotel room and strut around the barnyard like great dames of the manor.
 I can still hear my mother and grandmother laughing.

I would love my grand daughters to have memories like that. 
They do play in my attic but there is no beautiful turn of the century clothing trunk up there.
 However there is a box full of Barbies and some old teddy bears...

Sophie and Savannah... cousins but more like sisters.

Some old dolls 


And a place to read them

They seem to find their own fun...

I will be having company this week, one of the girls will be here.

Can't wait to see you Savannah, the teddy's are waiting for you!

I hope you all are having a wonderful summer.


  1. what wonderful memories, Rebecca. LOVE those lamb stories! Your precious grand-daughters have a special and blessed attic to play in, Hey, I'D love to come play there!! xoxo

  2. How wonderful to imagine many years from now your granddaughters telling stories of their visits to Grandma's house and all their magical memories. We carry on in the words and thoughts of those we leave behind. Time is ever so precious..we must be mindful..always..

  3. What a wonderful post full of sights, scents and sounds. I can identify with so much of it- except it was Aunts and Uncles for me instead of grandparents. I loved the sheep, too, at my Uncle's farm. In the Spring my brother and I would always go pick out a lamb to have until Easter and then it went home. I always picked the black sheep-go figure!;>)

    Your grandgirls are just gorgeous little girls and I am sure they will have many a fond memory of the time they spend with you- Blessings..and thank you for this beautiful post today- xo Diana

  4. Making wonderful memories for the girls!

  5. Dear Rebecca,
    This was one of the best blog posts that I have ever read.
    Thank you for sharing something so personal and truly special...I knew you were a wonderful person for a reason!
    Best, Lisa (the frenchman's wife)

  6. Thank you so much for sharing those wonderful memories with us. They also brought back many joyful memories of my owb childhood spent with my grandparents.

  7. R.E.,
    You had me at Sophie and Gus...what wonderful names...but you finished me off with the double S's! Not to worry sweetie. Your g'daughters will have beautiful memories to share of a special and lovely grandmother who surrounded them with beauty.
    I love this post. It took me back to a dusty attic of my own and sweet memories of my grandparents. Trust're not alone in the mismatched outfit. I spent a lot of time fishing at a cow pond and my mother knew I was going to get dirty. Wise women that they were, my mother and grandmother dressed me accordingly.
    I could feel the love jumping off the page and I thank you for sharing it with us.

  8. Rebecca,
    You have wonderful memories of your childhood.Yours sounds similar to my husband and his family.My husbands family grew up on a farm.They did not have much money.But they had each other and had fun with what they had.I think there is something about that life.Growing up on a farm and being surrounded by animals and nature.Oh how I wish my Grandmother had an attic with a trunk full of clothes.Lots of fun when you are a little girl or a big girl too LOL.

  9. Hello my sweet!
    Have a wonderful time this week! Magical memory making moments with your family!
    You were and still are a cutie and I love your mismatched wardrobe~ so precious!
    Hugs and much love from here

  10. Such beautiful memories dear Rebecca,
    surely have been so special and eciting to help save the lambs.
    Now your own beautiful grand kids makes their own memories in your wonderful house,
    and being with you there.
    Thankyou for sharing, I also so enjoyed the old photoes.
    Blessings, and love.

  11. Call them Angels in the Attic becaus they are beautiful! Love this post. The photos are great. I am putting you on my favorites list! Love the wire basket and the chippy step ladder. I had a ladder that was my daddy's paint ladder. I can't believe I sold it. Must have been a weak, desperate for a sale moment. Now, I'm sad. Your words and photos are beautiful!

  12. Dear Rebecca, I loved seeing your photos and hearing about your grandparents. Seems the older I get the more those precious memories come to mind. Maybe since I am a grandma now, I wonder what memories I'll leave behind. I hope that they are magical like yours. Love, Penny


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