I lived in rural Idaho during most of my pre-teen years. My teen years as well. Today that old house has been swallowed up by a town. It is now surrounded by mobile home parks. Back then it was a little 3 bedroom ranch on ¾ acre of land, with a small building for my mother’s business behind and 5 acres of farmland behind and to the sides of it.
It had its own well and I suspect it still does. For all I know it still uses a septic tank instead of the town sewer system. Why does that matter? It was good water.
There were only two houses on our side of the road, although there was a little mobile home park at the far end of the road, abutting the canal we all used to water crops with. They were little mobile homes, not the big manufactured homes of today.
There was a lot of room. A horse corral to the right. Another, smaller one to the left. And until Pyro Pete set the stable on fire while he was using a weed burner, we had a high-end stable out back – another story for a different day. I remember when my father planted – and perpetually replanted the red maple saplings until he gave in and accepted that a red Maple wasn’t growing in Idaho. The trees he planted never gave us much shade, but they are now a good 50 years old and almost cover the old house.
The engineer who designed and built the house usually worked on roads. It showed. There wasn’t a straight line in the place. When Mom had curtains made for the living room picture windows he had to measure every few inches. The curtains looked bizarre until they were hung – and then they looked straight.
The inside setup was designed in a circle. In the back door, past the chest freezer, through the long, narrow kitchen, dead-end at the washer and dryer. Turn left, cross the hallway going to the bedrooms, enter the living room, turn left, turn the corner, enter the tiny dining room and voila! the chest freezer.
In the middle of that central piece of real estate was the oil burning furnace. Oil, in case you don’t know, is dirty. Less dirty than coal, but not by a lot. Interior washing down of the walls and regular painting was on our To Do list. Especially since Mom’s idea of a great interior color was bone white.
The bedrooms were small affairs, but they had decent size closets, unlike most older homes. The five of us were packed into those three small rooms like sardines in a can, but somehow we managed, living cheek by jowl.
What I remember most is when Mom found refrigerated air-conditioning. Realize that Idaho is hot in the summer. Hot as cooking eggs on the sidewalks or asphalt contests. Then she found AC. There was one in the kitchen window and one in the living room window that led out to the car port. There was one in every window she could fit one in. There was one in the bathroom!
Then there were the blackout drapes.
Let’s get the visual and tactile here. Bright. Hot. Followed by Dark as a movie theatre. Cold – at least 30 degrees colder than outside. Stagger around until your eyes adjust. Go look for a sweater – no, a coat! We had AC – lots of it. Our House was a very, very, very fine house. It is actually in the photo below. It is just hidden by the trees now.