We began our series of “Abandoned Spaces” as an entire team. We’ve already been on some adventures, getting our share of “creepy” moments along with some very “funny” ones! Little did we know while planning our research, that our very own Elaine Stone, Owner / Publisher of Living Spaces & Life Styles Magazine, had her own abandoned space, one that ran deep into her very own family history.
Enter Aunt Mary. Elaine’s Aunt Mary grew up in our feature home, so who better to tell us the story of this abandoned space. And while weather and time may not have been kind to this old place, Aunt Mary’s memories are certainly active, filled with happiness and love.
“The house is located in South Hampton, on a large farming property”, Mary begins to tell us. “There were 11 of us altogether. My mother had given birth to twin boys, but unfortunately, as was typical in those days, they succumbed to illness, and passed. My father was a farmer, and as we had both animals and vegetables, my mother worked the farm as well, along with all of us kids when we were each old enough. I was born in a potato patch,” and as I giggle at the notion, she looks at me and says, “No really, I was actually born in a potato patch right beside our house!” Priceless!
As Mary goes on about the family home, she chuckles regarding one particular memory; “We didn’t know it, but the house was actually built over a pond, so every time we had a lightning storm our house would get hit! My mom used to have to wake us all up, and bring us down to the main floor when the weather was bad, just in case the house got hit, as we would be safer down at ground level.”
To give some perspective on how long the house has been there, Mary tells me about the basement, which by today’s standard, would be considered as nothing more than a cold, muddy crawl space. “In the fall we would fill up the cellar with fruits, vegetables, and meats, and that would be the winter storeroom for all of our food. And we can’t forget about the pickling jars and jams that would line the shelves and floors, and would stay fresh all year long.”
As we go through the photos that Elaine took during a recent visit to the house, Mary begins to tell me about the home itself. “It wasn’t a very big house. It had a main room, a small kitchen, a bedroom downstairs, and 2 bedrooms upstairs. We all managed to fit, sleep, eat, and have fun with each other, but when I think of it now, I laugh at the thought. I just can’t imagine doing that nowadays.” Noticeable by its absence, one room clearly missing from Aunt Mary’s description was the bathroom! Missing that is, until Ron Stone, who had married Mary’s sister May, Elaine’s mom, added one. “Mom was so happy when Ron built the addition for dad and her.” Ron had built on to the back end of the house, now demolished, to extend the kitchen and to add an indoor bathroom for the family. “After Ron built the addition to the home, my husband and I bought mom a laundry machine and dryer”, Mary tells us through tears. “Gosh she loved her son-in-laws, and she was just so grateful to both Ron and my husband Russell for helping her at the house.”
As time went on, and as the older children left the home to begin new families, Mary and her younger sister were the only ones left. Up until then, Mary would ride one of the family’s 7 horses to school, although she laughs when recalling how many times “that darn horse” just didn’t feel like moving, and Mary would end up late for school. I asked Mary how long it would have taken to walk to school, and to my surprise she gave me the very answer that older generations give, “It would have taken about 2 hours there and 2 hours back”. It would be that same generation as well, who would wake up early to work their farm chores before school, and would go to bed late for the exact same reason.
Mary’s mother and father lived in the house until they both passed away. The house has remained, mostly intact, waiting for its next story to begin.
After a short few hours, Mary and I had to end our interview, leaving me just a bit disappointed. Hearing and seeing Mary take me through the memories of her family home, her brothers and sisters, tearing up, laughing, and sometimes just quiet in her thoughts, was a touching gift.
And now, this house no longer seems abandoned to me, it remains vibrant and full, alive through Aunt Mary’s memories.
Written by: Kelli M. Maddocks | Photography: Elaine Stone