My grandfather’s house

This is the house my grandparents bought in Fon du Lac Wisconsin, in 1916. And where they raised six children including my Dad.  My grandparents owned the house for over 60 years, until Grandpa entered Nazareth House, a Catholic retirement home in Janesville Wisconsin, and sold the house to pay for his care. 

My father was 3 years old when the family moved into the house, and he lived there until he left for the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  My grandfather was a railroad engineer, and he had the Milwaukee to Chicago line.  At the end of his work week, he would “deadhead” back to Fon du Lac where he raised his family of six children. As a child, the impression I had of Fon du Lac was that it was perfect. 

When my father and his siblings lived in the house, it white, not the bilious blue color you see in the photos.  

After I grew up, while Marge was alive I visited Wisconsin almost every year.  When David was with me, we would drive over to Fon du Lac from Sheboygan to place flowers on the graves of my grandparents. Sometimes we drove by the house which sits on the main thoroughfare. One time, my sister was with us and we took photos of ourselves standing before the house. 

It might look ordinary, but even as a child, I knew this house was in a magical place. Today, you can find many Wiccans living in Fon du Lac, around Lake Winnebago and all over Wisconsin.  

The house had four levels, including an attic filled with treasures and a cellar full of junk, providing many places to play ‘hide and seek.’  My sister, brother and I loved the house, bigger than our own back in NC. We laughed and yelled and ran through the many rooms, much to the consternation of Aunt Marge who lived with her parents at this time. Today, it amazes me to recall I was once small enough to put myself in the laundry chute and hide from my siblings.

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My Dad collected stamps, and when he was a teenager, and my indulgent grandparents bought him a printing press which he used in the basement to produce a stamp collectors newsletter called Stamp Chatter. I don’t know anymore than that about his publication, because he never talked about it, although I did look through his albums of stamps many times. 

Fifty years later my aunts still complained bitterly about how much money the family lost owing to Dad’s hobby. Apparently, they thought Dad was spoiled and selfish and the extravagance lavished on him by their parents in buying him a printing press led them to shortchange the girls.

My grandparents were not wealthy, so I suppose anything they spent on my Dad, the only boy, was not spent on the sisters. They were particularly bitter over Dad’s college education, which none of them but Aunt Marge received.  Dad received some money from his parents for college, but my aunts forgot Dad worked his way through college. Aunt  Marge used the VA bill following WWII to pay for her education. but my other aunts never received a higher education.

 

   

10 thoughts on “My grandfather’s house

  1. Family history . . . There always seem to be gaps that we wished we had asked parents or older relatives to fill while they were with us.

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  2. Four levels, you say? Think of all that climbing. I hate stairs and made sure we didn’t have any in our various homes. Thank goodness, given hubby’s arthritis now!

    I used to collect stamps, too, as a child. It was an expensive hobby, and I paid a lot for those stamps from my lunch money.

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    • Yes, lots of climbing but when I was a kid it was fun to play on the stairs.

      I had a pathetic stamp collection, somehow it never really hooked me. It’s probably just as well. I collected baseball cards instead and had all the teams and all the players in my collection. Chewed a heck of a lot of bubble gum too.

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  3. I don’t remember it being Blue. I took pictures of it about 30 yrs ago & I thought it was green. In pics of my mom & dad it was Brown. The driveway is now paved, noRose Bushes blining the gravel driveway. New garage with a hoop. I remember an old small brown one.No bushes along the side of the house. We used to hide in those bushes when we played red light green light, hope to see a Ghost tonite. They ruined the front porch. The back yard was fenced in when I saw it last. Ellen & I used to go up every summer also & drive poor Grandpa crazy. We had so much fun. We had our friends that lived near by that we reconnected with each summer. We loved that house. Thanks for writing about it. Every time we drive up to Appletonm to visit my mom, I say I want to go see the house. Next time I’ll make whoever takes me, to take a side trip there.

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    • I knew something was different, but forgot what. I have a pic of Dad standing in front of the house, but he is blocking the view. Also, the photos of the “kids” were taken on different steps. I remember the mud room and Aunt Marge yelling at us to be quiet. I told her about that years later and she looked shocked. Ha Ha.

      I remember being there one Christmas with you and Ellen and ice skating up at lake Winnebago ??, then falling down and cracking my head. Ah memories….

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