Baboon Redux – About The Barn

This guest Blog by Madislandgirl was first posted in 2010

I love digital cameras, because you can just shoot and shoot and not worry about wasting rolls of film that when developed show a nice out-of-focus art shot of the back of someone’s head. My son prefers taking shots of interesting images as opposed to the documentary shots I grew up with (“here we are at Mount Rushmore!”).

A little while back, discussion on the Trail was about wabi sabi. There had also been a bit of talk about old barns and how they are disappearing from the landscape. This got me thinking persistently about what once was my grandfather’s farm.

Grandpa’s Barn

And so it was that one weekend, the son and heir and I headed out to Scott County with the express purpose of taking pictures of my grandpa’s old barn. I figured this might be our last chance, as the family who currently own the place will be selling in a year, and I feel certain the barn will be coming down at that point. An electrical fire destroyed the farmhouse about 5 years ago, so this abandoned barn is what remains of “the farm” as I remember it.

A Tree Grows Through the Fence

The teenage son of the current owners was in the yard when we got to the farm, which solved my quandary about asking for permission to roam around the barn. He acquiesced to our request to take pictures in a way that made it clear that he thought we were nuts, but probably harmless.

I was seldom allowed near the barn as a child, I’m sure it was considered too dirty and dangerous for a “town girl”. My son wanted to go inside. It looked pretty stable, so I let him. We both managed to resist the siren song of the ladder into the hayloft, barely.

The Beckoning Hayloft

We had a great time shooting that barn, trying to figure out how some of the old equipment must have functioned when this was a working farm. My nostalgia for a past I could never recover lifted. This was An Adventure!

We were on a roll, so I decided I would try and find an old family cemetery on the other side of town. It is a corner of a cornfield and completely unmarked. I had been there exactly once before, 10 years ago with a toddler and I was not driving. Still, I was feeling cocky.

We headed out-of-town on what I thought was the right highway. I kept scanning the landscape for something that “felt right”. We came to a little town that I remember hearing of as part of the family lore and took it as a good sign, but had we gone too far? Kept driving. As we were driving, I thought I saw a little gravel track at an odd angle to the road-maybe? I decided to turn back and give it a try. The track was pretty well washed out. I parked near the highway and decided to hike in. If I got stuck out there on a fool’s errand, I would never hear the end of it.

My son elected to stay in the car with the cell phone to call the authorities if the farmer who had posted all those No Trespassing signs decided to mistake me for a pheasant-I had 20 minutes to get there and back or he was calling 911!

I hiked around the bend, thinking this was nuts, when I saw up ahead a small grove with something in it.

I had found what I was searching for.

Sellnow Cemetery

What vanished place do you wish you could go visit?

52 thoughts on “Baboon Redux – About The Barn”

  1. I tend to go to my womb like places when the thought of returning to places go by. the places the vibes allowed me to just “be”
    there was the little cubby hole beneath the stairs in the house I claimed as my study in high school. the forts I shared with my buddies built in the wood of scavenged 2x4s and plywood in interesting designs made on an adapt as you built motif to accommodate trees and boards that either didn’t reach or were too long but inspired some rethinking of the original plan, the campsite at Celestine lake in jasper that served as the gateway to the hiking trail many rugged individuals left from with backpackers loaded with dehydrated food packets and sleeping bags strapped to their backs. it is the most beautiful place in the world. then there is the boiling river in Yellowstone at then48th parallel (road sign notes the point but doesn’t specify the highlight) the boiling river is the spot the hot spring enters the river and turns it into a spa. on the right day you can sit with the water rolling out of the rivers edge at exactly the right temperature with exactly the right water flow to provide the perfect massage in the perfect setting. you can go back to the site but the water flow, temp, current, can be off just a hair and throw off the perfect Khama. the afterglow from the perfect afternoon is remembered fondly and returned to in daydreams of past moments meant to be savored in remembrance of life’s perfect moments. my folks place at leach lake, my grandpas upstairs bedroom, the cabin we stayed at with cousins all those years ago. the laughs then familiar now recalled. the tractor I rode as a 2 and 3 year old around the world of my childhood, Scotty bowmans tree, sue beeses arms, the old Vw bus. those roads and trails to lord knows where traveled once and then. never again over mountains and streams and back country all over the country. the list goes on and on. good trigger mig, 5 years later after missing it the first time I am able to use your recollection to go to my happy place. thanks

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  2. Good morning. Nice picture of that barn, MIG. There is a barn in my past. It is the barn on the farm of my Grandparents which I visited when my Uncle took over the farm.

    I meet the people who took over the farm from my Uncle when I went to my Uncle’s funeral. I suppose they would have let me see the old barn if it is still standing. I didn’t ask to do that. I’m sure there have been many changes in the barn over the years if it is still being used. There was only room for a small herd of cows in the old barn.

    The farmer who took over the farm has a fairly large herd of cows and probably has a larger barn. I don’t know if he kept the old barn. Also, I’m sure the old milk house has been changed or eliminated. In the old milk house cans were filled by pouring milk into them out of buckets carried up from the place where the cows were milked.

    There was no bulk tank for holding milk. The milk cans were kept cool by setting them in a big tub of cold water located inside the milk house. My Uncle delivered his milk to a local cheese factory using his pickup to transport cans of milk to the factory.

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  3. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    I love the experiential museums like Murphy”s Landing in Shakopee (local) or Plymouth Plantation in Massachutsetts or Old Williamsburg (national interest) that allow us to sample the past.

    I would love to visit the White House with Lincoln in it. What a fascinating man and time, gruesome as it all was.

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  4. A direct hit, right in the nostalgia. And just as I prepare to head to Decorah to see a couple of friends from college, one of whom I have not seen since graduation.

    The farm has been sold (again), this time to people we don’t know. My youngest aunt and uncle have the house they built in what was the pasture on the market as they prepare to be retired RV-ers. I’m happy for them. I don’t imagine I will be driving up that road again, so won’t know when the barn is gone.

    And I hear we are in for a freeze tonight, so that is the end of the last garden we planted with our dear, departed neighbor.

    S&h is spending the day on a college visit with a friend and I need to crank out a lot of work.

    So much change.

    It’s like standing on the edge of a cliff with your toes curled over the edge. Nowhere left to go but forward.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. This hits home, because last autumn I took my roommate on a day trip to Red Wing. I decided to drive past the farm where my grandpa and crazy uncle lived, since I hadn’t seen the place in more than 10 years. I’d expected the old barn to be gone, and the farmhouse to be remodeled. What I hadn’t expected was for the entire farm to be gone, and a row of contemporary houses built over it. Not even the pine windbreak was still standing, so I couldn’t tell for sure where the house had originally been. I came home from that trip a good deal more shaken than refreshed.

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  6. I assume it is still there, but I do not have access nor do I want to trespass, long story in that. It is called the deer stand, or we called it that 65 to 50 years ago.

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  7. I enthusiastically believe it is good to make connections with cherished parts of our past. That’s one reason I spent several years writing a family history. As part of that project, I revisited my grandparents’ home in Manchester, Iowa. Our family lived in that town while my dad was away, a soldier in WW II. I was amazed to find how well I remembered places I had known from when I was three and four.

    There are ironies. My erstwife apparently antagonized the folks who bought our Cornucopia cabin. We won’t be welcome there again. And there is a hole in my heart because the home I loved for 37 years has been obliterated.

    A theme in American literature is “you can’t go home again.” To which I say, “If an adored object from your past still exists, visit it while you can.”

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    1. If you were to read the book titles that, as no one except graduate lit, and his biography, you would learn he was not welcome there before he left for being such a pompous, judgmental, supercilious big thing.

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      1. Supercilious is such a rich and textured word–all those sibilant sounds.It sounds as if it means very silly. It means raising your eyebrows in haughtiness.

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  8. I do love it that you found that cemetery, mig.

    I would give anything to see both of my grandparents’ places again, just the way they were when I was, say, 10. Both houses still stand, but have been altered so as to unrecognizable. My mom’s parents’ place has also had all the hills around it leveled to make room for more “little boxes”, so if it didn’t have 1814 on the front, there’d be no way of finding this house. I want to send a photo to the present owners of how beautiful it looked in the 1930s.

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    1. I want to smell my grandmas’ cooking, sniff the mildewy basement, find the cookie tin, find the hatbox holding the flatbread, look at their pictures, sit on their laps, learn how to make the egg coffee again (Grandma Hess taught me–I was horrified), have the Thanksgiving Dinner for 50. Sniff.

      I must write the blog about finding the Quaker Cemetery last Saturday! MIG you are inspiring the writing.

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    2. BiR: My grandparents’ Manchester home was a charming Queen Anne revival, a classic of that style. When I visited it in 2004 I was saddened to see that the owners have removed all the distinctive stylistic touches, producing a building that has absolutely no style or charm.

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  9. The road that ran past my paternal grandparents’ house has turned into a dirt track. We used to run down that road to get to the creek. That was fun. I wish I could get back there some time.

    The last time I was home we searched the Luverne Cemetary for my grandparents’ graves. I hadn’t seen those graves since I was in my 20’s. My infant brother is buried next to them, and they are buried in a different part of the cemetary from my parents. I remembered that those graves were south of and right along one of the roads that tun through the cemetary. I just couldn’t remember the exact location. After some searching we found them. The position vis a vis the road was correct. I like that inner sense of memory you write about, MIG.

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  10. The house I lived in with my mother during the war…her parent’s home. Beautiful old house in my memory. Big rooms, especially the kitchen where I sat with my uncle who was only 7 years older than I was and was a terrible tease and “torturer.” In the 50’s my grandparents sold the house and moved to a farm because that uncle wanted only to farm. The house eventually was left to ruin and torn down.

    Recently a cousin asked our uncle to draw a “map” of the house to add to her personal history. It was fun to see how memory fits with what was really there. Not too far off…even though some research says our memories are flawed and each time we return to them they are altered.

    Thanks for evoking the memory, MIG.

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  11. My grandmother’s house in Williamstown, MA. My sibs, cousins and I have been by it (it’s difficult to find because the road in front was re-routed and a lot has grown up around it) but I have not been inside. I know that that has been remodeled, too, so it’s probably best to let sleeping dogs lie.
    I have a memory that the house backed up to a rather steep hill. We used to play with stick horses, laying out the outlines of stables with other sticks on the ground.
    Somehow that hill is completely gone. I haven’t been able to determine if my memory is seriously flawed or they did some major earthmoving.

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  12. In our discussion two days ago of Sherrilee’s photo story I mentioned revisiting Long Lake, the place where our family vacationed in the 1950s. A few hundred yards north of Edgewood Resort was a bay where I often fished. It was maybe 2 acres in size. The bay had apparently been a forest when someone back in the 19th century put a dam on the lake, raising the water level. That forest of trees died when the water came up, producing the stump and lily pad bay I knew as a kid. The stumps were so thick that one day a buddy and I once got our rowboat trapped in the stumps. We couldn’t maneuver to get back to open water. My dad had to come to rescue us.

    I’m not doing this justice. The bay was a bit of heaven, filled with snappers and painted turtles sunning on stumps, redwing blackbirds trilling from cattails, jillions of frogs on lily pads, dragonflies patrolling just above the water and endless schools of gaily colored sunfish. Heaven.

    On my ill-advised revisit in 1999, I sought out the bay. It wasn’t changed; it was gone. Gone! A whole bay, just gone. The shoreline in that area has not one stump, cattail or lily pad. The shore is solid grass lawns, now, lawns and suburban-looking homes. How can a whole stumpy, weed-choked bay just disappear? Where did all those stumps go? I couldn’t believe my eyes.

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  13. Since the question following today’s blog was “Which vanished place would you like to visit?” and not “Which vanished place would you like to revisit?”, the answer has not been limited to nostalgia, but bifurcates into historical curiosity and remembrance. Were I to answer on the side of historical curiosity, the list would be very long and half of it would perhaps leave you scratching your head.

    On the nostalgia side, many of you have recalled your grandparent’s house. My father’s parents lived two blocks from us. We saw them often, but for brief visits. And I was the only kid. That means that there was none of the discovery that comes from occupying and exploring a place with a cousin or sibling. My grandfather on that side died when I was four, so my memories are limited anyway. My mother’s parents had separated before I was born. My grandfather worked on ranches in Montana; my grandmother lived in Milwaukee.
    The nostalgic places I would go in a time machine would be, first, Robbinsdale in the 1950s. It wasn’t notably different at that time from Robbinsdale in the 1940s– a small town on the periphery of a metropolitan area, but still self sufficient in that the main street had all the basic necessities of a village: a drug store, two hardware stores, a supermarket, a bank, a butcher shop, city hall, a cafe, a hotel and several taverns. An eleven-year-old on a green Schwinn Spitfire could go anywhere in that world and not return home until supper. I would go there again in a heartbeat, but only if I could also be 11 again.

    High school was so unsatisfying to me that I have fewer memories of it than I do of elementary school. High school for me was stultifying.
    It was in college that settled into who I was and that hasn’t changed substantially in the subsequent 45 years. I was at the University of Minnesota in the late ’60s. After a year in a dormitory, I had the opportunity to move into an apartment with a fellow art student. That apartment was on Cedar Avenue above a retail space, where Midwest Mountaineering is now. The rent was inconsequential. It was an easy walk to campus, an easier walk to the studio arts building where we spent much of our time. The guys in the adjoining apartment were good friends– and still are. We also had spaces in a building we had rented on seven corners for a pittance and converted into studios. The neighborhood at that time was halfway between hippiehood and Snoose Boulevard. It was a memorable, wonderful, formative time and place for me. I’d love to revisit, but only if I could also be 20 again.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Nice. My wife grew up on the edge of Robbinsdale in the 50’s and does not like to go there now. Twin Lakes were a favorite haunt and a pizza joint. I was at the U from 65 to 68. I lived the other way in Prospect Park.

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    2. The distinction between historical and nostalgic pasts registered with me as well. I admit that my curiosity about historical pasts limits me to a role as a spectator. Too damn many pitfalls, and too much treacherous ground to traverse, so I have no desire to travel there in “real” time.

      Not so with the times and places I’d choose to revisit. I can pick and choose them, so I’d go for the safe, fun, and idyllic moments. I feel so blessed that so many of the places that I’d want to revisit are still there although the people who’d make them worth revisiting are gone. With the recent death of my uncle Børge, I’m keenly aware that I no longer have a reason to visit Stubbekøbing. Perhaps the memories are safer in my mind’s eye? Perhaps the closing of another chapter in my life?

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    3. Did we ever trade West Bank stories Bill? When you were above Midwest Mountaineering I was living in a small white house about a block north and east of the Triangle bar. PJ sent me a link to a video about the West Bank scene in those years. I’ll try to find it for you.

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    4. you had the prime space of the West Bank
      Midwest mountaineering and seven corners. who was the art department,? had they gone to somberg Cowette morrisonbusa meyers? fun time to be there right in the heart of it

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  14. I’d like to wander through the Hudson Ben Franklin store circa 1970. It was the place that sold penny candy. It had creaky wooden floors.

    I also miss Gleason’s in downtown St. Paul. In the 80’s you could buy things like candied fruit and nuts in bulk from big barrels. I always went there at Christmas time for candied cherries. Every Christmas I wish there was still a place like that. But I have to buy the candied cherries in little plastic tubs.

    There are many places I’d like to see again. Sometime I feel as if I could step back in time and be my younger self if I could be in one of those spaces – if the space was unchanged, then I would be unchanged too. Doesn’t work, of course, but it seems like it should…

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