Sugar Grove,Virginia is a rural place where my grandma lived on a farm. I have childhood memories of this place. One included a day of looking at the scenic surroundings including a garden along side of the house. On one meal there, I was maybe 10 or so, I ate so much food, a country meal, and fabulous cookies I remember lying in bed afterwards with a horrible tummy ache from over eating.
In the mid nineties my grandma had health issues and came to live with us in Toledo Ohio for a few years. I was in an awkward teenage years then, but I always felt that my grandma was a nice woman and loved us all. When she passed away in 1995 my mom inherited the farm. A family friend who was local lived in the house and helped out my mom by overseeing the property passed away this winter. My parents went there about a month ago and noticed a lot of work needed to be done before it was possible to rent out the house. I originally planned vacation for June simply to hang out in Toledo, to skate the parks there, golf, see some of my friends, and hang out with my parents. But I agreed quickly when my parents said they needed my help in Virginia. So I flew into Detroit on Monday, and my mom picked me up from the airport and we drove to Toledo, or more accurately Rossford Ohio. I was at my parents home for an hour or less and we started the drive to Virginia. It was fun to drive some and I drove to about Columbus. We broke up the driving to two days with staying in a hotel shortly into West Virginia.
When we got to Sugar Grove on Tuesday we started to work. I think at first we were not in a groove, but within an hour we had a system of moving boxes and so forth. My parents hired three workers to help with the heavy stuff. These guys were real tradesmen, and were able to do a lot of things. I have respect for tradesmen, and construction people because they get things done. The house was dusty, and had all sorts of filth, but working in close proximity to the beautiful outdoors for three days was such a change of pace for me, that I enjoyed it. On that Wednesday we really got into a system. I suggested we clear out the second floor and move everything to the first floor. Except for obvious trash, things needed to be sorted for trash in a dumpster, or to be put into storage. In the attic one of the workers cleared out so many boxes. I went up and down the steps so many times I probably got some time of workout from it. When they were cleared from the second floor we worked on sorting the boxes on the first floor. The workers left around five and my parents and I sorted through the boxes. My mom said out of nowhere, ‘is that a snake.’ At first I looked at it and it was so still I couldn’t tell. Then I saw the head of the thing. We covered it and I ran the box outside and threw the contents out. It was a live snake. I was squeamish of the thing but my dad tried to scoot it away from the house. He said it was not a poisonous snake, only a black snake, and probably lived in that attic for years. I looked on as my dad played with the snake and I stated that even though it was not poisonous a bite would hurt. Afterwards we worked for a little more, but we were all tired. That day we did manual labor from 9 in the morning to 8 at night. That is an 11 hour day.
My mom explained that this stuff was my grandma’s, her’s, my aunts, my grandfathers, and perhaps things that they inherited. So it was a ton of stuff. Sorting through her books was interesting for me. There were a lot of Shakespeare and bibles, which are the staples of the English language. I found a paperback copy of Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night and a few other interesting authors. But the bulk of the books were non-fiction books. The subjects showed a range of interests, my dad noticed the science books, and there were plenty of cookbooks and we found clipped out recipes in so many places throughout the house. One of my childhood memories of the farm was the canned preserves that my grandma had in her basement. I found a well read copy of a how to book for canned preserves that had plenty of pages marked with post it notes. As a kid I thought that was simply something that farmers did, but finding that book I realized that my grandma was self taught in canned preserves. It was something that she wanted to do, and she got a book on that subject and learned how to do it. The canned preserves were still in the basement. Throwing them into the dumpster was kind of fun, but there was one can of green beans that looked normal to me, but I threw them out like the rest of them. On Thursday we pretty much finished what we needed. The dumpster was full, the storage had a lot of stuff in it, and my parents car was full of stuff they wanted to look through soon.
Thursday night I drove through West Virginia, and that 77 north is one curvy road. It levels out around Charleston, and there it started to downpour, I was glad it didn’t downpour in the mountains, I think any inclement weather on the road would make it treacherous.
On Friday morning we stopped my ‘Rocky’s Boots and Shoes’ in Nelsonville Ohio, near the West Virginia border. I picked out three pairs of shoes for 25 bucks, and they are good quality shoes that I can wear to work..
This was different from my originally planned vacation, but time well spent to learn more about my maternal family. Cleaning out a house you can make assumptions about the persons from the objects. My assumptions were that my grandma had good taste, was a good person, and had an inquiring smart mind.