It was there from the first. As long as I can remember, it was never painted during my time. It was on the other side of the road, and on the other side of the creek. It sat behind an apple tree. A red, astrican apple tree. The apple tree sat just at the start of the hill. To the left of the apple tree was a giant maple tree. On one great limb overhanging the path to the house, someone had attached a swing made from a large rope with a board at the bottom for a seat. On the other side of the apple tree was a scrawny small pear tree that actually bore fruit. Almost at the top of the hill and just about the right of the house was an evergreen tree. To the right, which also happened to be to the east, later grew a walnut tree. Which in my time produced delicious walnuts. To the left was the well and an old hand pump. And the water was deliciously cold. At the back and well down the hill was the fence separating the back yard from the field of muck. Along this line fence was a row of aging cherry trees and these trees actually bore fruit, which we gathered and mother canned for our winter pies and desert. And long previous to my time, there had been a well. To mark the spot, all that I can remember was a few old weathered boards a little to the east and in the middle of the field of muck.
And I must not forget the morels hiding in the grass back of the house. They were so delicious when fried - and so scarce.
Early on it was known as the 'Dodman house'. A number of the Dodman clan who lived in the house during its early years , visited the house. While their version of the early years of the house differ from what I heard, I really cannot dispute it, for I do not know. I simply was not around for much of that time.
The house perhaps was not unusual. It was never painted in my time. It consisted of a two story main section facing the road and a single story section looking like a tail attached to the front. There was a front door in the center. A window in the right side where the main bedroom was located and a window at the right for the front room that I suppose would be called the living room now. On the side facing the well were two other windows and still another at the back. Attached to this section of the house was the back kitchen that I fancy must have been added after the main section was built. It actually sat on a dug-out basement complete with walls of slabs of limestone. Entrance was conventional for the time - from the outside down a covered set of steps. And poking out from the roof was a chimney that in my time was added along with a peak of bricks. This was to prevents some winds from blowing back down the chimney and spreading smoke throughout the kitchen.
The inside of the house I suppose was conventional for the times. The living room occupied the entire width of the house facing the well. Opposite and on the front was the main bedroom although I suppose it served a different purpose when the house was first built. Alongside that was the door to the stairs leading to the upper floor and next to the kitchen and partially hiding behind the stairs was a very small 'L' shaped bedroom, hardly big enough to hold a single bed, but equipped with hooks or nails to hold up the meager clothes the occupant was not wearing at the time. The front door of the living room led to the outdoors. At the back, the door led to the kitchen. At the back of the kitchen were two small bedrooms, one on each side of this portion of the house.
The stairs led to the upstairs hallway. At the top of the stairs was the doorway to a bedroom that had a window facing the east. The hallway was separated from the stairs by a banister with turned wooden spindles. And the hallway led to the door of the second upstairs bedroom. The roof of the house was so low that in each room it was necessary to slope the wall from about half way up.
As I was saying, I had never known the house to be painted. Dad acquired the property I think after Aunt Jane Scane died. It was part of her estate and there were heirs who were insisting on their inheritance at once. To do so, he had to take out a mortgage and of course this led to considerable more hardship. Farming for most people in those days was quite a struggle with long days of hard work and little compensation. To help finance the purchase of the property, he sold the gravel in the hill to the east of the house (This had at one time been an apple orchard although I cannot remember any of the trees). I can still see the small deep hole that Uncle Will Patterson had dug so that the quality of the gravel below the surface could be ascertained.
The house was always occupied by the hired man and considered as part of his wages.
The first person that I can remember as occupying the house was Uncle Will Patterson, his wife and son. I don't remember dances in the house while he was there. I think there may have been a short time when the house was vacant. And then Ed O'Connor and his family occupied it. I think before he moved in, the walls of all the first floor rooms were covered with 'Beaver board' and then painted. And I believe it may have been after this that dances were held yearly and for some time as a community affair. I don't remember too well the sponsors, but I think it was the community. I can remember that qualities of corn meal were spread on the floor to make it more slippery, but I cannot recall who played the music. Certainly it was not canned music for the gramophones of the day would not be loud enough and people in those days would not put up with it anyway.
During the war years, I have the impression that a Fraser family from town may have lived there for some time. But again I am not sure of this. However I do know that there was a Hassen family who did live there for a time. After that, the front bedroom was used as a granary for some time and then the house was essentially abandoned and old unused furniture was stored there. For instance, I know that our old gramophone spent its last days there. Lloyd filled in the old well sometime after the house was left unoccupied.
The old house did remarkably well. It withstood the ravages of time, unoccupied for about 50 years before it fell down in 1997.
Earle W. Brien 2002/05/30
Page last revised 2003/03/28