THE GROWING UP YEARS
By John Sedwick
Once the weather got colder, my grandmother decided that three women and two young boys living alone eleven miles from town without a well or electricity didn’t make much sense. We moved closer to town--about one and a half miles from Vona--to a twelve foot by twenty foot shack at Joe Moser's place. Hardly a mansion. A pot-bellied stove was in the center of the room, which was well used in the winter. One night it got down to forty below. All the guinea hens froze up in the windmill by Joe's house. When the sun got warm the next day, they all fell down, frozen.
Joe and his wife were real characters. They had two older daughters; well maybe 17 or 18, but to me that was old. They were of German origin and were the area’s brew-meisters. Prohibition was in full force, and they had their own home brewery and did a rather good trade with the locals—lawyers, doctors, sheriffs, all the good citizens desired a brew. To all those customers Prohibition Be Damned!
Joe was building our new house right out back of his. When it came time to move up to our property, Joe got the necessary house-moving equipment--wheels, beams, jacks, etc., slid them under the house, started up his tractor, hitched it to the moving rig, and towed the house the ten miles to our new place at about three miles per hour. This was now the new home.
The house was to be placed on a rise and among the trees. Deep holes were dug at each corner of the house. Large pieces of junked farm equipment were placed in the holes, and several strands of wire (barbed, as this they had in stock) were attached to them. The holes were filled in with the wires running out of them. The house was lowered in place, and the wires firmly attached to all four corners of the house to serve as anchors for the house. Quite a wind blows constantly, and at times is strong enough to warrant this kind of anchoring. We were in.
Before long we had an extension built on the back of the house, an addition for the kitchen, with a bed at the other end. I remember having whooping cough there in that bed. Then there was a garage built for storage and the car. In those days of dust storms, you didn't want to leave the car outside. The storms drove a sandblast that could take the finish right off it. And behind the garage we put the outhouse, a custom-built two-holer with room for the Sears catalogue.
A cistern was dug behind the house to store the rainwater. Since water was a precious commodity, you tried to save all you could. With a gutter on the sloping roof, we could divert the rain water into the cistern. We didn't drink or cook with this water, but used it for bathing and household chores.
We added a large screened-in porch on one side, about 10 by 10, with a canvas roof on top. Was good in the summer. Where we were in Colorado was at about 4000 feet elevation, so it would cool off at nights. You usually needed a sweater after dark. Actually, the weather, humidity and general weather conditions were very pleasant. But there were times the “gods were angry” and let us have it. More about that later.