When Grandma Lost Her House
My grandmother had a grand old house in St. Joseph, Missouri. There were three features I particularly remember:
- The front parlor, which was never used, had a stuffed pheasant on the mantle. It fascinated me.
- At the landing coming down the steps from the second floor was a stained glass window.
- Off the dining room was a little alcove room that was fun to hide in. My sister told me that it was my grandfather’s office, but as he died before I was a year old, I never related the alcove to him. To me, it was just a neat little secret room.
When the State of Missouri decided to extend Highway 36 through St. Joseph, they took my grandmother’s house. She sent us this newspaper clipping about the house. From that time to the time of her death in 1959, she spent school years with one daughter in San Diego and summers divided between my Aunt Helen in Kansas and my Aunt Alice in Missouri.
If you ask any of my cousins or siblings what they remember about that house, I guarantee the first thing they’ll talk about is the pheasant in the parlor.
Sadly, after the house came down, grandma never again had a place of her own. Not only did it displace her, but the new highway cut through an old neighborhood where we had lived as kids, effectively cutting neighbors off from neighbors. After that, the old middle class neighborhood went into a steady decline.
I’ll never know the impact losing the house had on my grandmother, but I imagine it was heart-breaking. How could it not be?