Our Past Is Our Future

We think TV is great. We think “entertainment” is great. Refrigerators, supermarkets, cars, phones: all of these things seem so convenient. And they are. But do they change life in ways that are fundamentally beneficial? I am only asking the question.

This account of farm life is from my Great Aunt Jenny. Life was challenging, work was hard. But as you read, let yourself wonder who is happier–you or the people who lived on this farm? Our current system may fail, and we may be graced to return to this sort of life. Would that be so bad? Our technological, regulated, tightly scheduled, high-demand lives are cages–gilded, yes, but cages nonetheless. My mom was always nostalgic and wanted to return to the past. I thought that was silly. While I strongly believe we are meant by God to live in the times in which we are born, as I read this and other accounts I realize we have definitely lost something–indeed, many things–that are very precious, and I understand my mom’s longing for the past. Can we recover the sweetness of life close to the land?

This is Part I. The rest will be posted as blog entries from time to time.

This is about a farm that was bought in 1910. It was 46 acres and was located on a dirt road named Scott Street. This farm was bought by a family of eleven; mother, father and nine children, with ages ranging from 1 to 18 years. There were five girls and four boys. Two of the boys served time in the Army; the oldest in World War I, the second in World War II. Both returned home safely and went on with their lives.

In the back of this farm stood a big dense woods owned by the Spafford family. The children used to go to the woods often with the neighbor kids. They used to pick wild flowers, hunt hazelnuts, bittersweet and mushrooms. We spent many Sundays walking and exploring the woods. In 1922, the Spafford family sold to a real estate developer named Blair. They cut down trees and made fairways and put up a large club house. They conducted a contest to name the golf club. After all the names were sent in they chose Heather Down for the name. Before long the place was covered with golf players.

~ In the year 1958 this farm was sold, all the buildings were torn down, the big

house was burned down, trees cut down and hills and ravines were bulldozed flat. Then new homes were put up, streets made and the name of the street was changed to Green Valley instead of Scott Street.

Now houses stand where once children laughed and played, cows grazed, pigs wallowed in the mud and farm crops grew. This was a beautiful farm with a big front lawn with trees and flowers. It had hills and valleys, pastures, groves, lots of buildings, a small creek running thru the pasture. The children used to wade, catch tadpoles, frogs and sometimes fish in the creek. They played hide and seek, tag, antii-over, crack the whip and hopscotch. In winter they would go coasting on the hills and skating on the ponds.

This is about a beautiful farm that once was but is no more.


Twenty ounce Sheep nose


Maiden Blush Wealthy redYellow Transparent Detroit Red

Smoke House Baldwin

MacIntosh Northern spy TopyHauken Grimes Golden

Sweet apple (two, one large, 1 small) Jonathon


Bartlett pear

Sugar pear

large red striped

pointed at bottom yellow – mild

yellow – pink cheeks white center

early – very good red – snow white

strange taste

green – winter

red striped – winter winter


red – winter red striped mild

for pickling


In chicken yard

1 blue plum – canning and jell 1 green gage plum – jell

1 mulberry – pie

1 peach – canning

By back-house beside ditch

2 quince – jelly and wave set for hair from seeds

By smoke house and chicken coop 1 Keefer pear tree – pear butter

1 large crab apple – jelly

Front yard

3 cherry trees – sour, canning 1 Bartlett pear – canning

1 Keefer pear – canning


1 pear tree – shade for wash day

Back by Heather Downs golf course 6 peach trees for canning and peach butter





Corn Timothy hay Clover hay Tomatoes Potatoes Cabbage Alfalfa hay

Lettuce Carrots Radishes Cabbage

Beans, green and wax Beans, lima





Pumpkins Watermelon Muskmelon Asparagas


Green onions



3 bushes of red currants – jelly 1 bush of black currants – jelly 1 bush gooseberry – jelly Grapes – red, white and blue Strawberries

Red raspberries

Picnics in the Grove

Another installment of Great Aunt Jenny’s stories of life on the farm

The father of this family belonged to a German lodge called The Hessen. The
boys would take him to meetings. Someone got the idea of having picnics in the grove
for the lodge members and friends. The Lodge paid for the use of the grove. So the
father and the two older sons got busy and built tables, benches, a dance floor and
two Backhouses. They were made out of tin and marked “Ladies” and “Men”. The
picnics were to be on Sundays.

On the Saturday before, the three youngest children had to clean up the
grove; pick up branches and cow chips. The boys put seats on each side of the Republic truck for hauling themembers that didn’t have cars.

On the big day, the boys would meet the members at the street car loop by
the asylum grounds (Toledo State Hospital). They would make two or three trips.
Everyone brought their own lunches and picked a table. They sold beer, pop and ice
cream cones. The family would go out to the grove after dinner and join in the fun.
The younger with the kids, the older with the older men and women.

After the lunch time was over, the dancing would start. As the afternoon
wore on, the men would start to sing German songs acapella. They had beautiful base
voices. The whole grove rang with kids’ laughter, singing and music.

They would start to leave about dusk, some before. The truck took those who
didn’t drive back to the car line. The next day, the grove had to be cleaned up. There were many more picnics
after that.