Can you ever go back to a previous time of your life and savor the experience? This photo sends me spiraling back in time to almost fifty-two years.

I am the fifth person on the front row. I think I was eight.

I am the fifth person on the front row. I think I was eight.

My family lived in a suburb of Chicago, but every summer we would travel from Chicago to Baldwin, Wisconsin. It was a grueling trip, five kids, two adults, no air conditioning. This trip took us all day, but in the end we landed at grandma and grandpa’s house.

Fun times were ready to begin. There were aunts, uncles, and cousins galore. Kids were shipped off to spend time with the cousins. Kids and parents met up once again at church on Sunday. After the service everyone headed to Grandma and Grandpa’s house where a feast was set up on picnic tables in the side yard.

At some point the cousins all had to gather in one place for the group photo on the side yard of grandma and grandpa’s house. Those where the best of times that live on in my memory.

Last fall I returned to Baldwin for the funeral of an aunt. I had my husband drive past my grandparent’s house. Decades ago they left this house (before they died), but it always remained firmly visualized in my mind. The house my eyes viewed, was not the house of my memory. This house was beaten down, there was no life spilling out onto the lawn. Weeds sprouted, screens were torn. It had not been loved in many years.

I think I will hold onto the memory of the home where twenty-nine grandchildren lined up to preserve a moment in time.

19 thoughts on “Memory

  1. Holy smokes, that’s a lot of kids!!

    I felt the same way when I finally saw my in-law’s house in Ireland. It was not the house I had dreamt of, hearing all their stories of growing up there.

    Love this picture so much! What a lovely memory you have forever!

  2. What a wonderful photo! I’m so glad the photo takes you back to a time when the house was loved and the children were happy and the whole family was together.

  3. I loved seeing your picture and sharing your memories! I was one of a big group of grandkids, too. I don’t even know the total…my grandparents had 11 children- my mom was the youngest. I wish I had a picture of me and one of my cousins sitting by the little creek at my granddad’s little house, catching crawdads and arguing about whose granddad he was, really. My cousin had a strong claim, since he lived in the big house next door to Granddad. But I knew he was mine because we had made a long trip and driven across the singing bridge to come see Granddad. (Oh, I do have a picture…in words.)

  4. Love your photo. You take me back to my family trips to Toronto, Canada twice a year to visit my mom’s family. 8 hours in a car with 3 kids. How did they do it? But it was fun to be with cousins. We have this is common, friend.

  5. “there was no life spilling out onto the lawn.”
    Your words bring to life the sad scene you saw recently, I love how you described the life and love you remember.

  6. sallydonnelly11 says:

    What a great picture that led to a great piece of writing! It made me connect to returning to my home where I left at age 6 and recalled having the biggest back yard. As an adult, the scale changed and no longer felt so big. But ALWAYS a great memory!! Thanks for sharing yours.

  7. Elsie, we share a love of photos and memories. This photo is an absolute treasure and I am so glad you are writing about it. What a wonderful childhood with all of those cousins. Such a lovely slice. Thank you for the story and the pic. 🙂

  8. rosecappelli says:

    A wonderful memory! Family fun and love are what make a house a special home. On your return trip it was just a house.

  9. Terje says:

    Twenty-nine grandchildren – Wow! Allows for many stories. I am sorry you had to see the house in such a condition. You are right, it’s better to hold on to the memories.

  10. We must be about the same age and I too remember driving to my grandparents but it was a three day drive – with 5 of us kids in the station wagon and mom and dad up front. We only did the trip a few times but it too is etched in my mind.
    Thanks for triggering my memories. We need to do that more often I think. It is hard to see things as we remember them so changed. But memories are special. Lovely post Elsie!

  11. A stroll down memory lane – the best kind of all, where things are frozen in time just as we remember them. What a fun picture! Is that your brother beside you?

  12. The mind is a funny thing. I remember my great grandfather’s house being this HUGE white house that must have been close to the size of the White House. Imagine my surprise when we visited several years ago. Someone had shrunk the house down to this small, teeny-tiny thing. 🙂 I think these words were the most powerful in your piece. “This house was beaten down, there was no life spilling out onto the lawn. Weeds sprouted, screens were torn. It had not been loved in many years.” They really painted a picture in mind, even if it was one I didn’t want to see after reading your happy memories.

  13. Judy C. says:

    What a special memory. Yes, I too would hold the picture in my mind of how it once was and all the fun that you had with family. Sometimes even when we try to go back, it’s just not the same. Thanks for sharing your memory.

  14. It is sometimes hard to go back. I have gone back to where I grew up and it just isn’t the same anymore. Our once beautiful home is falling apart. I would much rather live in my memories than try to go back.

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