The house was very old and I was very young and did not appreciate the unique qualities of the house, like the bathtub that sat on claw feet. The kitchen was pink except for the appliances. The cabinets reached all the way to the ceiling and there was a built in potato bin that I used as a make shift toy bin for my son. We bought a gas cook stove at auction for eight dollars and it was a dandy. It was huge as I remember, at least four feet wide and two feet deep. It had five burners, a deep fryer and a warming tray. The pilot light was troublesome and never worked correctly so I came up with a plan. I would strike a large match, throw it in the opening and yell, “Fire in the hole!” and then wait for the inevitable boom before proceeding.
Countless biscuits, rolls and cakes came out of that oven and I never blew myself up. I was either a very brave young girl or totally stupid. There was a narrow alley that ran directly behind the house. This is where the milkman delivered milk every other day and placed the half-gallon jugs in the milk container that sat near the back door. He also sold butter and eggs and the milk was Bakers. This milk came from a local dairy and was the best I have ever tasted. It was not shipped from eight hundred miles away in yellow plastic containers. The very idea of something like that back then was absurd at best. The milk never went bad and was sold in reusable jugs.
As I mentioned earlier there was a narrow alley behind our house and for some odd reason one of our neighbors laid claim to it. Kind of like squatter’s rights as they had lived there many years. There was only room for one vehicle at a time being the alley was so narrow. Many a time one of us would have to back up. This neighbor always alleged that since her car was straight shift she had to gun it up the entrance way. They had plans to open a doughnut shop in Rapid City, South Dakota. We ended up moving back South before they moved. I never knew if their plan came to fruition but I would never eat a doughnut from the hand of them or any of their descendants. So to my readers who visit Mount Rushmore, beware of anyone selling doughnuts.
I have never been back to Illinois since we moved many years ago. My eldest son, Adam actually rode by there on his way to Rapid City about two years ago. He took pictures and the house looks so different now. Vinyl siding covers the beautiful stucco and the entire yard is now fenced in. There must be a young mother with a young child living there now as I once did. I hope I left some happiness in the walls of that house. Old gas cook stoves last forever and I cannot help but wonder if someone is still yelling, “Fire in the hole!”
Kaye Ella Steadman lives in Chickamauga. She is a storyteller, published writer and author of the book “The Girl in the Mirror.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.