CoffeeJitters has moved to

Friday, July 11, 2008

Meanwhile, Back at the Farm...

When my Grandfather moved to Alaska in the 40s, he needed to find a house big enough to hold his wife and seven children, and pronto. The Matanuska Valley had been colonized in the 30s as part of the New Deal. My Grandfather bought a nice little Colony House on a hefty bit of acreage from a family that just wasn't able to cut it as colonists (nothing against that poor family, but winters in Alaska were probably a bit more than they had bargained for).

Then he set about expanding the house to make it big enough to fit his kids.


It turned out plenty big.



The picture above shows my Grandparents and mom with her brothers and sister. Notice the airplane out the window to the left. Grandpa was a dentist and he used that to commute to work in Anchorage. He would also fly out to the bush villages to treat the villagers, often for free.

The fireplace was built with river rocks. The second floor windows on either side of the chimney (below) were close enough to reach out and get a good toe hold on the chimney, yet far enough away that falling was a very real possibility. Of course, I know nothing of this because I would never consider sneaking out of the house.


The lower roof, right above the ground on the picture above, covered the cold room. Aside from being a dentist and a politician, my grandfather was also a very skillful butcher (that's how he worked his way through college.) We didn't just have a cooler for keeping meat, we had an entire 400+ square foot cold room. We didn't mess around when it came to meat.


In my mind, the crowing jewel of this home was the swing set.

It was the reason my friends came to play at my house. And on hot summer days, we would drag a water hose to the top of the slide and turn it in to a water slide.

(That's me in front with the braids)


My Dad took the following pictures from the top of the slide, then pasted them together. The two little buildings behind the van were very important as well. The white building was the chicken coop and the little log building beyond that was the pig pen.

The Farm

I lived in that house for most of my childhood. It was a pain to clean, we lived in the delta between two glacier fed rivers so the fine dust of glacier silt was always passing through the walls. Vacuuming and dusting were never ending chores. As was mowing the lawn.

And lest you think it was a mansion of some kind, I want to be clear that the bedroom walls were plywood, and we woke up many times to find frost on the inside of our bedroom walls. Oh, and the roof leaked so much when it rained or the snow melted that walking down the hall was an obstacle course of buckets and drips. I miss that house.

My family sold the house a few years back and since then it has fallen into disrepair. It looks so sad now.

This is my contribution to Candid Carrie's Friday Foto Finish Fiesta

Previous contributions include:


Subscribe to CoffeeJitters


Lauren said...

This was so interesting!!!!

Cyclingred said...

Those are neat pics.

Tiaras & Tantrums said...

gorgeous house - so sad aboutit -LOVE that slide!!!

American in Norway said...

Very cool... Love all of the history behind the house. Thank you for sharing! & Thanks for popping by my blog!

Teri said...

Ho.Lee.Cow! That house is HUGE, and the slide is to die for (no one did die, right?) Man, I would have loved a gigantic slide like that during my kid years.

Romi said...

That is so cool. I love the living room pics. A plane outside the window. Wow! Thanks for sharing that.
BTW...Every time I see your name it reminds me of a girl from high school named Judy Hawley. Funny how that is. She lived in a house with her grandfather which is now called the Anaheim White House, a famous restaurant. There's a connection there somewhere:-)

Kendrawolf said...

Those are really cool pictures!

Mrs. S said...

LOVE the house, the swing, the geography!

thank you for your comment today. It really made a crappy day better.

Terri O'Laughlin said...

Awesome pictures! And a great story! And that slide! What kid wouldn't be in heaven with a slide like that one!

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I did have a kind reader remove the guns for me. I now have it posted. However, like you said, it sets the scene! I like both pictures, equally!!

Angie said...

I love old houses and I love hearing the history behind them! I'm hoping to visit Alaska someday. Thanks for visiting my blog today!

leezee52 said...

Awesome photos!
Have a great week-end!

ShaneShock said...

Breaks the heart. My grandparents' farm has suffered a similar fate.


Lynda said...

What a nice time I spent here looking and your photos and reading your memories. It really changes the perception of what it would be like to grow up some place so distance from yourself. I grew up in coastal Texas and you can't imagine how I would've thought an Alaskan would grow up.

Of course, as an adult, that is entirely an adult, everyone lived in a town like Cicely (Northern Exposure) {wink}

Jennifer said...

Wow--amazing pics of an amazing property! I'm sure you have many fond memories of that place. That slide!! I can see why it was a hit w/ all the kids! Thanks for sharing those cool pics!

BoufMom9 said...

What a fantastic story through pictures! I just LOVE history, esp. when it involves personal tales. Thank you so much for sharing!
Loved the shot with the 3 pics pasted together!
:) Debi

Cheryl Lage said...

Oh Judy...fascinating, gorgeous and inspiring! The piece-meal panorama warmed my heart...that desire to convey majesty before our technology really allowed it!

I'm almost embarrassed by my Foto now, but thank you for your kind words just the same!

I''l be back for sure!

~Billie~ said...

Very cool! How sad about the house now. I bet that swing set was a blast!

Janece said...

This is wonderful - love the photos.

Ronda's Rants said...

It looks like it was a beautiful life there!

Z's Mom said...

I love all the history and the pics. What a beautiful place to grow up...even with the leaks. And that is the tallest slide I've ever seen in someone's yard.

Awesome post! I love it!

Lindsay said...

This was one of the most interesting stories I've read in awhile. I love the character that the house had, and I feel sad for you that it was not kept up the way it needed to be.

That has to be the scariest but most thrilling slide a family has ever put in! It sure puts to shame the cheap plastic ones you find now.

Thanks for sharing!

Sissy said...

Hello! Thanks for your sweet comments the other day on my infertility post. It has been a hard road, but you have been there, so you know.

Anyway, I grew up in Alaska as well. We lived in Anchorage until I was 8 and it was the most fun I think I've ever had! Glad to know that other people love it as much as I do.

Jessica said...

WHOA!! now that's a farm house. AWESOME.

Kristin said...

Oh Judy, I just love the look of this house and the story behind it all was amazing! I love hearing about the family history of others! I read this story and showed it to my oldest daughter, she asked if we could get an airplane to take to school and work! haha! :)

Lane Boyz Mom said...

Wow, I love the whole story with that house! I'm sorry that the new owners aren't giving it the TLC it deserves!

© Judy Haley. All rights reserved.