It was 1942. Pearl Harbor was attacked the previous December, and the United States was at war. For a seven year old boy, a move from “Big City Detroit” to my grandparent’s farm in the country near Ionia Michigan, was like moving almost to heaven.
The farm was a wonderful place to be seven. “One hundred sixty acres,” Mom said. The house, barn and buildings were on forty acres west of Michigan Highway 66 that ran north and south dividing the property. East of the highway was 120 acres of fields divided by a lane that stretched to distant trees.
The house was a big old, two-story farmhouse my grandfather built at the turn of the twentieth century, finishing about 1903. Mom said that Grandpa had somehow used work horses to combine three houses to make the house.
The bigger part of the house had three bedrooms upstairs, three bedrooms downstairs, and a living room with a front door that was rarely used. The smaller part housed the kitchen, dining room, and an unheated work room we called the “back room,” which had a back door and porch. There was an attic over the kitchen. The kitchen door was our main entrance.
Two tall pines stood guard on the front lawn; and two more at the northeast corner of the house next to the rock garden that spilled down from the north porch. When we turned in the dirt driveway, there was a waist high trellis on the left where vines grew up each summer and gave us juicy blue grapes.
The driveway curved behind the back porch and by the front of Grandpa’s big shop building. It went almost one hundred yards; past the windmill and a big sweet cherry tree, to the granary and the barn, where it turned back out to the highway.
The garage was attached to the side of the shop, and a tiny brick chicken coop sat in the shade of a tall mulberry tree behind the garage. Daddy later built a big chicken coop connecting the back of the garage to the brick coop.
Big maple trees by the driveway and behind the house framed the picture-postcard view of the grassy field to the West, with the green lawn of the backyard in the foreground. A huge old weeping willow tree was the centerpiece and backdrop for the view from the kitchen window. The branch on the side toward the house had been cut off to provide an unobstructed view.
It was in this setting that I had more delightful experiences while growing up than a small boy could ever imagine.