During the winter months, while impatiently waiting for spring weather and summer projects, we occupied some of our time playing with one of the kids games. I think this was called a spin and hop. It was a battery operated disc which sat on the floor with a two foot plastic rod extending from its` center. The disc would spin, moving the rod around in a circle about eight inches off the floor. The object was to hop over the rod as it rapidly rotated around. The person with the most successful hops was the winner. With Dad pushing down on my shoulder, I had a slight handicap!
A new discussion surfaced this winter. Mother and Dad talked about their thoughts concerning retirement. Dad wasn’t 50 years old yet, what brought this on? One of their concerns was whether we would be interested in buying the Barn House sometime in the future. Having just started our own Wolffs Den, the idea had never entered our minds. We would have to give this some thought.
We did suggest that we didn’t see how they could keep up the pace of doing maintenance and upkeep as they got older. But, that was a long way off.
While Greg was waiting to start kindergarten this fall, Debbie was enjoying her first grade experiences. School pictures were sent home this week and Debbies` first grade pictures were shared with family and friends.
Back in the tool room, talk was going around about a possible UAW strike against GM this contract year. The top priority issue was to be able to retire after 30 years of service with full pension and health benefits. Buttons were being worn with “30 & OUT” on them to support the union demands. September was the contract expiration date. Better start putting some money back!
Easter and spring arrived and the dinners and Easter egg hunts were here. Outdoor Easter surprises at Mother and Dad`s were a regular tradition.
Easter treats and a big family dinner was always on hand for the Laws` family at Esthers`. But, first you had to wash up!
With Grace staying with Esther, we have noticed several items missing from the old Pettigrew homestead. Esther and her sisters decided to clear out the the main items from the house. After all of the keepsakes were salvaged and dispersed among the sisters we noticed the old cast iron laundry kettle in the back yard. We asked if anyone wanted it and with the response being a resounding NO, we “inherited” our part of family history. It soon became our focal point flower pot.
During a visit with Grandma Wolff one weekend, she was feeling in good spirits and I asked her if she would enjoy going for a ride to see our new house. Arthritis was becoming a mobility problem for her but, she was determined not to let it keep her down.
During her visit I was able to get another rare posed photo with Debbie. One of the best pictures she ever had taken and it only took 86 years for someone to capture it!
Debbie was still working on tumbling and gymnastics and enjoyed the open air practice area of the front yard.
Dad even got into the spirit of the event!
May was also tree planting time and we had plenty of help planting the sycamore, and redbud saplings. The Anderson Mayor wanted to create a “Redbud Capitol of Indiana” and encouraged everyone to plant redbuds this summer.
Our new wheelbarrow came in handy today with six trees to plant and the flagstone stacked by the garage for another project on the way.
Grandpa and Grandma Barrett were enjoying the blooms on their wisteria that they trained into a bush.
Memorial Day saw both of the Wolff Dens celebrating by installing 20 foot flag poles in our yards. We used 2 inch galvanized water pipe which we painted white. It was then inserted into 2 1/2 inch pipe which we buried and cemented in the
ground. I drilled and tapped three screw holes into the top of the ground pipe to hold the flag pole in place. It could also easily be removed for future painting or maintenance.
The same procedure was used at Mother and Dad’s Pole raising, only Dad had a straw boss to help him.
Just one final job to finish up this month…the traditional Memorial Day pool opening!
With the trees planted and the flag proudly flying, we began another landscaping project. The shrubs outside the dining room window were surrounded by sod which reached out to the sidewalk and was difficult to mow and trim.
The solution was to replace the sod with flagstone pavers and gravel. Let’s get busy.
Mother and Dad were still working on finishing touches and additions to their Wolff Den that seemed to never end.
The carport needed a brick walkway to the sunroom entrance and a fence leading to the back yard.
We all experienced a sad period this month with the passing of Carole`s Grandmother, Grace Pettigrew. She was 93 years old and buried in the Pettigrew family plot at Mendon Cemetery south of Pendleton.
Progress continues on with the painting of the garage, work room and family room siding.
Carole took on the project of shampooing our oval braided family room rug. With the pool table as a hindrance, she decided to tackle the job outside.
Grandpa and Grandma Barrett were still working their huge vegetable garden and tending the many berry bushes and fruit trees.
Mother and Dad were still questioning what to do with the Barn House and I could tell they were getting restless. This was by far the longest they had ever lived in one place. I remember during my freshman year of high school, the conversation came up about selling and maybe moving to West Virginia. I said that if they did I was somehow going to stay in Pendleton and finish school here.
Carole and I discussed the option of buying the Barn House and both agreed it would be way more work and upkeep than we wanted. As one small example, in 1955, Dad had planted multaflora rose bushes along the edge of the drive from the front gate to the cow barn. They grew so fast that they had to be trimmed twice a year to keep them from scratching the car as we drove down the drive. This was a week long project.
Add in the pruning and care of over 55 trees, almost 3 acres of lawn to mow, dozens of flower beds to weed and tend not to mention the quarter mile gravel drive that needed stone and grading every so often. Oh, and then there was the red wood Barn House and out buildings and pond! Guess what we decided?
Even while considering selling the Barn House, additions continued. I helped Dad put in fence posts and stretch farm fence from the cow barn to the back field. This was to keep the jumping goats out of the garden area.
Pendleton was celebrating its` sesquicentennial this summer and Mother along with most of the population got into the spirit of the occasion. Mother located a period hat and had a nice turn of the century outfit made.
We have had heavy rains before, but this fall one came down that beat anything we had ever seen before. The little drainage creek that floes through the field south of the Barn House is usually 2 to 3 feet deep and 6 to 8 feet wide. It empties into Fall Creek just north of Pendleton. This flood crested to 12 feet deep and 100 yards wide in spots. This was taken from the Barn House roof, looking south toward highway 67 and Pendleton.
Debbies` birthday was this month and I guess I must have taken 8mm movies of the celebrations, because this is the only picture I could locate from that day. Go figure.
Greg had finished his first T-Ball season and really enjoyed it. Now it was time to start kindergarten and see how that goes. Debbie is ready to begin 2nd grade this school year.
I did manage to snap a shot at Grandpa and Grandmas` 57th Wedding Anniversary though.
Well, the UAW decided to strike GM since little progress was being made with the negotiations. Since I worked 2nd shift, my 8 hour picket duty was scheduled for the 3pm to 11pm shift. We were provided with picket signs stating our demands, the main one being the 30 and out obstacle. 55 gallon drums and firewood was distributed to various duty stations for our fire barrels. A lunch was served at the union hall following our shift.
When GM controlled 40% of the automotive market in the 60`s and 70`s, Guide Lamp was at its` peak. In 1970, GM was the biggest automaker and the largest employer in the world and Walter Reuther, who had been the UAW president since 1946, had a vision for all workers to have adequate health care and a secure retirement program. These dreams were in danger with his untimely death in a plane crash this spring. Leonard Woodcock would now have to play a much larger part in the negotiations.
I was still taking classes year round at IUPUI and one of my first papers for an Industrial Education class was my progress report.
With the extra available time on my hands due to the strike, my brother in law and I decided to re-shingle Esthers` roof. The turn of the century house was built with native timber which wasn’t cured and was very, very hard. Half the roofing nails bent before we could make a secure fastening. This took quite a tole on our fingers too!
The strike has drug on for eight weeks now, but our spirits are high that it will be settled before Thanksgiving.
Mother and Dad talked to Grandpa and Grandma recently about the possibility of selling The Wolffs Den. It didn’t go well. Even with their health problems, they still wanted to stay on “the farm”. Grandpa still enjoyed his winter hunting.
Thanksgiving was still a big family get together. With canned fruit, jellies, jams and vegetables preserved from their garden, the Barrett Thanksgiving was always a feast!
And of course, the ever growing kids table!
Another great thanksgiving was that the strike had been settled! The 1970 contract restored the cost-of-living adjustments Reuther had set aside three years before, instituted “30-and-out” (retirement after 30 years) and increased the, already hard fought for, healthcare benefits.
A Thanksgiving visit with Grandma Wolff. Dad had a toupee made that he was trying out.
The winter was not being kind. A snow ice storm took out our Redbud trees in the front yard.
The ice dams on the roof produced 3 to 4 foot icesicles around the house.
Christmas morning at home and we were still able to have a very nice celebration after the 10 week strike. Mother and Dad came over for Christmas breakfast and to watch the kids open their presents. The first order of business was checking out the stockings hung by the chimney with care.
This Christmas theme was action toys. Greg enjoyed his peddle race car and helmet.
Debbie finally mastered the bouncing ball and was ready to take it outside for a try.
Dad helped set up the slot track figure eight race track and compete in the action. Note Grandpa Wolffs` old Morris chair in the foreground and the movie projection screen in the background.
The Christmas tree was in the living room this year.
After our Christmas festivities wound down we headed over to Mother and Dads for Christmas dinner. Carole, as usual, was the first to check out the turkey bird!
Mother and Dads` Christmas tree was still traditionally natural whereas ours morphed into the artificial one this year. Another tradition of the Wolff tree trimming was the hanging of the tinsel. Mother would meticulously hang each strand on the bough so that both ends hung even and the tinsel was evenly dispersed on each branch! Dad, on the other hand, felt it only necessary to stand back and randomly toss the tinsel at the tree and let gravity do its` job! After much cajoling and numerous admonishments proved fruitless, Mother would rearrange the misplaced tinsels onto their proper place.
Carole and Dad had started another tradition…bickering and taunting each other. Whenever the chance arose they would jump at it.
More Christmas stockings and presents were enjoyed and then a family mirror portrait was taken, We still had the Barrett and Laws Christmases to work in. It has been a wonderful year, moving forward. Now let’s see what the coming New Year will bring our way!