Sunday, October 15, 2017

Movin' On Up! (to light bulbs and electrical outlets)

Here is a photo of our new home under construction.  My father did much of the work on the house when he wasn't trying to eek out a living on the tobacco farm owned by my maternal grandfather

Sometime between the age of zero to four years old, my family moved north into the much nicer new home.  I can't say exactly when it happened because I was a very young pup at the time.

I say we moved north, but that's not entirely true.  We moved north exactly 50 yards.  It was not much of a move.  My mom, dad, and brother probably carried everything we owned in just a couple of trips.  One of the three likely carried me in their arms.

But at least we moved out of the log shack that had been my home.  Since I wrote the log shack story, I have learned we had a single light bulb dangling on a wire in one room.  There were no electrical outlets.  If you needed to power up something, you replaced the one bulb with a socket and plugged in.  When you were finished powering whatever needed powering, you replaced the socket with the light bulb.

Running water was also available in only one room - the kitchen.  There was no bathroom.

I'm guessing there was no water heater.

The road in front of our house was sandy clay dirt with a few large gravels.  I remember the state occasionally driving large yellow tanker trucks down the road spraying used motor oil.  The oil was to hold down the dust clouds that followed any vehicle that traveled down the road.  I am confident the state no longer sprays dirt roads with used motor oil.  It was not an environmentally sound practice.

It was seriously rural living, very primitive  - much like Jed Clampett's family before they struck black gold when Jed was huntin' for some food with a musket.

I have also learned my grandparents lived in the log shack before building their new home in the 1920s.  Over the years many tenants on my grandfather's farm also lived in the log shack.

Our new house had multiple light bulbs, electrical outlets, and a water heater.  It was luxury living.

My mother reportedly took credit for designing our new home.  It's a nice, sturdy house for the time, but not something I would take credit for designing.  What you are looking at is the front of the house - notice no door.

Another thing it was missing was a bathroom.  That's right - no bathroom.  It had the same facilities as the log shack.  There was space for a bathroom, but it was never finished.  The blank space had a pot you could use or go to the outhouse near the log shack.

Notice the house in the background.  It was built in the 1920s,  That's where my grandparents lived after moving out of the log shack.  It's also where my wife and I live now.

I am told electric service did not come to anyone's house until around 1940.

It's a long story, but at one point my wife and I moved into the house in the foreground.  Then we moved to Haw River and then Danville and then back into another house a few hundred yards up the road and where we lived when we were first married.  Then we moved into the house in the background.  Like I said, it's a long story with many moves not listed here and I am a bit ashamed of the bizarre nature of our circus-like life.  Maybe I will tell the whole story someday.

I am told my maternal grandfather gave my parents the property where my dad built the new house.  Grandfather Wall also provided all the logs for the lumber and helped finance its construction.

We only stayed in the new house for a few years.  We left the farming life behind.  My father got a job at Western Electric in Burlington, so we moved to Haw River to eliminate the daily commuting.

When I was four years old my parents sold the new house to my grandfather and borrowed money from him to buy a nice middle-class home in Haw River.  I am told my parents bought the Haw River home and 15 acres of land for $11,000.

Haw River is where I lived for 14 years before beginning my college life.  In a short time, my life had gone from living in a log shack with one lightbulb to being a college graduate living nearly 24 hours from home.  My entire life has been strange.

My dad, holding me, stands in front of a log pile.  These logs were milled into the lumber which was used to build our new house.

My brother tells me the logs were cut and milled on another part of my grandfather's farm.  I have always believed the logs were cut from the spot where the house was built.

Whatever the case, nothing explains why my father was so dressed up to stand in front of a log pile.  I have started to believe my father dressed up whenever a camera was present.

Notice dad's log pile hat.  He could pass for a gangster instead of a farmer.

Here my mother holds me while posing with logs for the new house.  Posing with logs seems to have been a Moore specialty photography technique.  I am pleased to know I was always part of the style.

My dad, older brother, and I prepare to load into an unidentified car.  I suspect we were on the way to St. Joseph's of the Hills Catholic Church in Leaksville.  Reidsville's Holy Infant Church did not yet exist.  Leaksville had the sole Catholic enclave in Rockingham County.

I will one day explain how we came to be one of the few Catholic families in Southern Baptist land.  There is a whole story behind our involvement with Catholicism.

Check out these three sporty dudes.  Judging from the background, I believe this photo might have been made in the yard of the log shack rather than at the new house.

I am particularly envious of my older brother's suit.  He was indeed a sharp-dressed dude.  He still is.

Dad looked pretty spiffy too.  Notice the folded handkerchief in his left-hand suit pocket.

I looked pretty good in my white beret and boots.

We were a desperately poor family living in what might be referred to as squalor, but we damn well dressed nicely.

Here's the same shot with my mother holding me.

No suits - apparently, we were caught unprepared for this photo.

The boys are at the new house in the "front yard".  I recognize the "storage house" in the rear.  It still stands and is still used.  It's been painted green and a door and ramp put in to accommodate a riding mower - something we would not own for many, many years after moving to Haw River.

That's my brother's bicycle and my tricycle on the ground.  I doubt I was old enough to ride the tricycle by myself.

It looks like we got off the bicycle and posed on the front steps of the new house.  The "front" door was located on the side of the house and was never used.  We used the "back" door which was indeed logically located on the back of the house.  The back door has since moved to the same side of the house as the front door which is being used quite frequently by the current tenants.

Here I am posing beside my dad's Willys.  Dad was a technical Sargeant in the Army.  He worked on Jeeps.  Jeep made Willys and dad's work experience convinced him Willys was the only car to own.

My mother appears to pass me through a window to my brother.  Notice the window shutters.  The shutters were fake, but an indication that we had moved up the socio-economic ladder when we moved into the new house.  Actually, we had not climbed the ladder. That would come some years later when we moved to Haw River.

I attempt to scale the "front" doorsteps at the new house.

I cling to the fence that isolated the outside basement steps from the hazards of youth.  I have no idea how old I was, but I've obviously grown from the little kid who attempted to climb the "front" steps.

That's my grandmother Wall holding me in what I believe is the yard of our new house.  My grandmother was a good woman.  She would look after me for many, many years, even when I was a grown man.

Here's a modern-day view of our former home.  Notice the asbestos siding has been replaced with vinyl siding.  

The old storage shed can be seen on the right behind a vine-covered utility pole.  It is now painted green.

Six fully-grown beautiful Penn Oak trees now surround the house - three on the property line in the rear, two in the front yard, and one on the side of the house as shown in the photo.

A small addition has been added to the rear of the house.  It's just large enough to hold a freezer and some household items.

This photo was made from our carport (former home of my grandparents and mother).

This is my dad on a mule in front of a cornfield.  Believe it or not, he was born in the city in New Jersey, just across the river from New York City. Despite appearances, his life was not meant for farming.

I am told dad was teased mercilessly by grandpa's family for his lack of farming skills.  Dad's decision to move to Haw River and work for Western Electric changed everyone's life.  I will tell some of that story in later editions.

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