Cook Stories 13
It’s an Indian summer afternoon in late September. Out of the west windows of a rambling old white farmhouse, the upstairs windows looked out on a woodlot of trees of many kinds but chiefly varieties of oak. The sunlight filtering through leaves beginning to turn russett and scarlet and gold shown in bright display on the green grass kept short by the insatiable appetites of cows and horses pastured there.
An old man and a girl stood at the west window. The old man…
Of all my early memories, those associated with my grandfather Cook are among those most cherished. From the day of my birth, he calmly announced that I was “his girl.” His son Ed had lived at home longer than his other sons. Ed’s wife was much respected by him for both her own character and because she was the closest of friends with his daughter Ella who died from diphtheria after coming into the house to care for her brother Ed. So when Ed was a child, grandfather was already biased in the child’s favor.
My mother said he never missed a chance to pick me up, play with me, tell me stories, and hold me on his knee. I early learned that he was as shy at showing his feelings as I was, but we understood each other. When a gift came from both grandparents, I always gave grandpa credit as the donor.
My first day of school was very memorable because grandfather took me by the hand and walked with me telling me that I was going to school where my “Papa” and aunts Ella and Susie could arrange to have me sit with my cousin Anna (who lived with my grandparents) so that I would not be frightened. The feeling of warmth and love for me may not have been evident to others, but it was to me, and I loved him in return.
I remember going to the “Cook place” to visit grandpa and grandma. The old house in which they lived was never painted, but in the summer, the shade trees and flowers gave a beauty of a sturdy kind.
Grandpa chose the site for the “new house” on an elevated raise of ground north of the “old house.” It was a large house. A cellar built by a stonemason and a two-story structure with a porch on the south and a smaller porch on the west where the front door opened. The kitchen was large and had east and south windows. The pantry opened off the kitchen. The dining room, parlor, and bedroom downstairs and a hall and three bedrooms upstairs seemed huge after the limited space of the old house.
The family decided to celebrate Grandfather’s 75th birthday with a dinner for all the family. This included my father’s family and those of his two brothers Ranford and Malcolm. In addition, the Ezra Coates family was invited. Ezra was Grandma Cook’s nephew and was the father of Ranford Cook’s wife, Neva. Everyone brought food. They gave Grandpa Cook a fur coat. My Aunt Sue was always snapping pictures, so she asked a family friend to come and use her camera to take the picture. I still have a copy. Every family was grouped together. Aunt Sue sat on the steps in front of grandpa (in his fur coat) and grandma. What possessed me, I have no idea, but I made a face in the picture. How disgusted my parents were!
Shortly after moving into the new house, Grandmother became ill and died. Aunt Sue and cousin Anna had never been friendly, so Anna came to live with us. She taught the Evans school, stayed with the Van Aukens during the week and every Friday night came back to us.
Grandpa came to see us now and then. He was glad to know aunt Sue was going to be married, but he felt doubtful of his ability to get along with his son-in-law to be Walter Hillier – – but he rented him the farm.
Aunt Sue had a big wedding in the new house. I recall her asking me to act with Lucy Satterlee in showing the guests where to take the wraps all the way up the new staircase to the spare bedroom. I recall that Lucy and I had dresses made alike – – white over a pink lining. I know grandpa was proud of me that night.
Two years later, grandpa came to see my parents. He said that uncle Walter had a farm to which she planned to return, and he (grandpa) planned to sell his farm to Mr. John Haltmeyer. He planned to divide his money among his children, and he wanted $200 interest from each one every year. He wanted to live with us. My parents agreed that we could try it.
In order to make grandpa comfortable, he was given the step-down room for his own. He brought his huge featherbed…