Our Retro Bungalow

Our Retro Bungalow
The journal of the making of an old house into a lovely new home.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Meaningful Decor: Show Me a Sign

I know.
I know that I've gone on and on about my dear great-grandparents
humble little farm out on a country road in southern Arkansas
and how I cherish the memories I have
 of those old folks and that time and that place 
to the point of ad nauseam.
here I go again...

Their little farm was a good walking distance from the nearest neighboring farm
and five and a half miles outside the tiny town of Waldo.
Granny and Papaw Burke never had a television.
They had an old radio in the kitchen, but I do not recall it
ever being turned on and tuned in.
I'm guessing they only used it in the winter months
 when an "ice storm" was imminent.
There was an old black Bakelite telephone on
the little table against the wall between the front bedroom door
and the entrance to the kitchen at the back of the house.
It was rarely called out on and it rarely rang.
Still, somehow, my little sister and I were never, ever bored.
But when Papaw would need to go into town for some
somethin' er other, we jumped at the chance to ride along
in the back of their dusty old four-door.
We'd scootch our backsides forward to the edge of the bench seat behind Papaw,
lay our forearms up on the back of the front seat with our chins rested atop
and watch the gravel road disappear underneath us while
a canopy of tall, age-ed trees zipped past overhead.
You can count on there always bein' a purpose for goin' to town, mind you.
My great-grandparents simply wouldn't consider
burnin' gasoline for no good reason.
We'd most always end up at the place where my Papaw worked
operating the cotton gin during harvest
and sometimes in the store
when the farm wasn't takin' up all his time;
a place the locals called
owned and operated by a man whose name  was
Ervin Franks.
It was a rickety and dimly lit old country store that carried
all sorts of sundries and farm supplies, as well as household goods like
cast iron skillets and a few grocery items.
I do not recall any of the things Papaw purchased on our
laid-back visits there, but I do remember that my sister and I
 always brought back our own, individual little brown sacks of candy.
Just like any other old country store,
there were big glass jars full of various sweets
and although there was lots to choose from
I chose banana "Now and Later"s every time.

Ah, what a sweet memory!

Out of curiosity, I did a little research on Franks.
It closed many years ago.
I talked with my mother, my Aunt, my great-aunt, my second cousin,
and even the current mayor of Waldo who remembers
goin' to Franks all the time when she was growing up.
My aunt thinks she has photos of the place somewhere,
but she hasn't been well and the thought of going through
boxes of old photos is overwhelming for her.
After kindly looking for me, the mayor said
there are no photos of Franks to be found in the town archives.
And no one could agree on  Mr Franks' first name.
I scoured the obituaries and photos from Columbia County cemeteries
and came up with nothing.
I looked at old business records online.
I guess I was just looking for family members that
could tell me a little about the history of that old place.
And I really wanted to know...
was it
A dim little light flickered on in my noggin one morning.
I quickly finished up what I was doing,
went to my computer
and Googled
"Waldo High School 1940, 1950 yearbooks"
And I found these gems...

Of course Mr Franks paid for advertisements
to support the high school yearbooks!

A couple of months ago I came across an Etsy shop that,
 after perusing through, I "favorited".
At the time, Ashley, the shoppes proprietor, was featuring this listing:

And I liked it.
A lot.
it did not fit my self imposed criteria for
items we might add to our home which is:
It must have a practical purpose
It must have meaning.
I'd recently been sorting through oodles of old family photos
my mother had given me and as I studied over the black and white images of
my predecessors, my mind naturally wandered back
again and again to those wonderful childhood memories that
I hold so close to my heart -
including, of course, trips with Papaw to Franks.
Those memories and this listing collided in my consciousness
and an idea was born.
I contacted Ashley via Etsy and asked her if she did custom work.
"Yes!", she replied.
Ashley was AMAZING to work with and I am
SO HAPPY with the BEAUTIFUL custom work she did for me.

Ferns & Ivy
Check out her shop by clicking on the hyperlink below this photo!
You'll LOVE what you find there.
I promise.

So, there ya go.
More meaningful decor here at
Our Retro Bungalow.
Thanks for stoppin' by.
Y'all are sweet as candy
and we're much obliged for your kindness.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Puttin' Up Walls

Puttin' Up Walls.
I'll be the first to admit that over the course of my life
I've put up a few walls here and there.
But let's not dwell on the past.
the walls that have been goin' up around here lately
are not of the of the metaphorical variety -
they're bona fide barriers between inside and out.

Dean has always wanted a workshop.
Due to spending his prime providing for and raising half a dozen children,
he's just now getting around to making his dream happen
 three plus decades later.
Most folks that have observed what's been 
going on aound here recently have stated that 
the man of the house is building himself a
"man cave".
Well, call it what you want,
but really...
 my husband is a natural-born gear-head.
Ever since he was just a wee lad
he's loved working on anything that's 
greasy and runs on gasoline.
My very favorite story about him bein' a young boy
took place when he was 12 years old.

 He'd traded his saved-up allowance on the purchase of an old
lawn mower motor from a neighbor. 
Although the old motor hadn't worked for quite some time,
he was confident in his investment.
After dissecting, analyzing, cleaning, reassembling
and refueling the deceased conglomeration of metals and hoses and grease
he was thrilled to discover that he'd fixed it!
It ran!
And for months after he'd mosey out to the garage every now and then
and fire it up just to hear and watch it run.
I can't think of anything more dull than that.
But then, I can't think of anything more winsome either.
Clear as day I readily picture him
standing over his Franken-motor
as it puffs out hot, gray exhaust while simultaneously potential is
being cultivated inside that boy.
It's no surprise he grew up and earned a degree in
mechanical engineering and over the course of his career
has worked in the aerospace, automotive and medical industries.
He even earned an MBA in his 30's and did several years in management,
but decided he wanted back into the science of industry.
He missed the nuts and bolts of engineering.
The walls of his workshop have been slowly going up
and before y'all know it
he'll have vehicles atop the hydraulic life and
engines dangling from a cherry picker.

So, here we go...

He dug trenches for the footings with his trusty ornage tractor.
We had a hard time keeping the grandchildren and the dawg outta
those trenches...
Really, we didn't even try keeping them out.
There was fun to be had and cool, damp earth
to lie on in those long, deep furrows!
The fun didn't last nearly long enough, though,
because there were forms for footings that needed to be built.

Then the footings were poured.


After the footings had cured,
we had a crew come in to form and pour the foundation walls.

Then there was lots and LOTS of tractor work to be done
to get ready for the concrete slab.

Next came all the rock that goes under the slab that needed to be distributed.
And screeded.
Jus' so ya know...
"screeding" is a cuss word in my book.
Not that I mind helping, but screeding...
I hope I don't ever have the opportunity to help screed
a gravel base again in my life time.
That is all.
Except that I was a very good sport about it.
Honest, I was.
Moving right along...
It was finally time to call in our favorite concrete crew.
Craig Robinson is the best concrete contractor you'll find in these parts
and he's in high demand,
but I believe he always fits us in in a timely fashion whenever we call for his
crew because he thinks highly of my husband and everything we've
accomplished here on Fruitland Drive.
I'm pretty sure it helps, too, that we pay him promptly.

Then we took a break.
But not really.
After the shop floor and approach were done
we went to work on tearing out and replacing the
old flagstone retaining wall that runs across the front
of Retro Bungalow.
The original retaining wall had been there since the 1950's.
Scott Randall, whose father, Percy, built the original house,
told us of his recollection when, as a small boy,
 he made the trip with his dad all the way to Arizona
in one of the old family farm trucks to go
pick up the flagstone that the old wall was built out of.

I'll spare y'all the blow by blow details,
but boy-howdy, let me tell you this...
Dean was surprised to find a very large footing
beneath that old flagstone wall and it was a
booger to get out and haul away in hefty size chunks.

I don't recall how many trips we made to
Recycled Earth,
but I do remember that for some reason they were having a
"special" and we were able to unload ALL of that old concrete
footing for FREE!
We sure do appreciate those folks and the purpose of their worthy enterprise.
Saving us a hefty chunk of cash was a very nice bonus.

After what seemed like endless cleanup and prep work...

we finally got busy setting the first (bottom) course
of the new retaining wall.
The first course was difficult and time consuming,
but once we got to setting the next six courses,
it was easy-peasy.
Except that I discovered I have triceps and obliques
and other muscles I'd never been acutely aware of before.
All that hard work was worth it.
We are very pleased with how our new retaining wall turned out...

It wasn't long before our lumber order for framing the workshop
showed up from from Wheelwright.
Other than getting some help from moi and our sons to lift the
unwieldy frame walls he'd built
up and onto the foundation walls,
Dean framed his workshop himself in about one week
including a few days of working his regular 9 to 5.
The man amazes me, I tell ya.
 sometimes he just gets me so undone with
worry because he will not wait for or ask for help
and all I have to resort to is pacin' an' prayin' hard.
For example:
he installed the 40 foot double header that weighs between
4 to 5 hundred pounds
and sits
(with some help from his trusty orange tractor)
Oh, my WORD
And I'll just tell ya right now that I was irritated.
And I may have even mumbled under my breath something like
"the man's a stubborn, crazy-fool"
because I was scared outta my head that beam would fall on him.
But it didn't.
Because praying works.
And because the man's as strong as he is stubborn.

That's all for now.
Won't be long til the trusses go up.
Which means, of course,  there'll be more pacin' and prayin'.
And I'll do my best not to mumble any scolding words under my breath.

Thanks for stoppin' by
have a fabulous day, y'all.