Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Joyner Houses Part 1


The Farmhouse

The first Joyner house was in Greenville, NC.  It belonged to my step-father's father.  My birth father was killed in World War II in July 1944.  My twin brother and I were conceived in April 1944 and were born in january 1945.  So I never knew my birth father.  When my mother remarried in June 1945, she and my new father, my older sister, my twin brother, and I moved from Manchester, New Hampshire to Greenville, NC.  We moved into my new grandfather's farmhouse.  (The farmhouse was not new, but my Granddaddy was new to me.)  Six people lived in the house before we moved in;  we added 5 more, which meant that eleven people were living in the three bedroom house.  The five of us slept in one of the bedrooms.  One thing to remember ... then, only the sitting room was heated.  In the winter, the bedrooms were cold.  The kitchen was heated with the wood stove.  There was never air conditioning, except through the floors, walls, and windows.  Then, the orientation of houses were usually built so that the wind could blow though the house in the summer. The roof was usually a tin roof.  The porch was very important for keeping cool in the summer.

I remember very little when we moved into the farmhouse, but as I became older and we moved out of the farmhouse, I remembered visiting.  Some visions I have about that house have remained.  One was the porch swing.  Rick Bragg wrote a passage The Porch in Southern Living which perfectly describes Granddaddy's front porch.  My brother, Lane, and I spent a lot of time on that porch, evidently.

I don't ever remember the farmhouse being painted.  The house wasn't insulated either (as typical for most farmhouses) and the cracks (or spaces betweeen the floor boards) in the floor were entertainment.  The chickens, dogs, and cats, naturally then, were free roaming and we watched them under the house through the floor boards. Some of the floors, though, were covered with linoleum rugs, but not necessarily the complete floor.  Sometimes the linoleum rugs were smaller than the floor. 

There was no running water in the house for many years, but there was a well hand pump on the back porch.  We loved pumping water when we were a little older; in fact, we got in trouble for emptying the cistern and not replacing water in the prime water bucket. 

The kitchen adjoined the house with a porch separating the living quarters from the kitchen.  I think I remember a big table in the kitchen.  There were also tables on the back porch for washing and cleaning up.

Because there was no running water in the house, there was the outhouse.  Mama had never seen one until she got on the farm and for sure had never used a chamber pot.  She stated she would never use a chamber pot.  Soon after moving into the farmhouse, she had to go one night and refused to use the chamber pot.  She went out the back door in her housecoat and slippers to use the outhouse ;  she slipped on the chicken poop on the steps and fell under the house into more chicken poop.  Everyone expected her to pack her bags to go back to New Hampshire, but she stayed and had to live down that story her entire life.  

The farm had mules and pigs.  One of my uncles who lived in the farmhouse would take me to see the mules and pigs.  I just loved watching the hogs eat and listening to the baby pigs squeal.  Granddaddy had Hog Killing Day in the fall but our mother  never allowed us outside or in the yard while they were harvesting the hogs.  I still remember the smell of the pack house and seeing the meat hanging from the rafters of the pack house.  

While we lived in the farmhouse, Mama and Daddy built a house across the highway on land that Grandaddy gave them.  In 1946, it was the first and only brick house for miles.  Because of that, the family called Daddy the "Governor" and it was later shortened to "The Gov".   Part 2 will tell the story of "The Gov's" house.                   

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