Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Outside My Grandmother's Back Door

Between our house and my grandmother's was just a small house with a large yard. At the right you can see Grampa in his driveway, the large yard, and our white house in the background. Just a few skips away--but never through the yard! I visited Gramma nearly every day when I was young. During the summers I usually walked to her house several times a day. My unmarried aunt was often there and sometimes some of my cousins were visiting. When the cousins were there we played outside in Gramma's big yard and driveway. All of us kidders (as she called us) coming and going must have worn her out, but she never said so or gave that impression, was never cross with us.

Outside my grandmother's back door was a hand pump. You can see a glimpse of it in the photo to the left. When I was young Gramma already had running water in the kitchen but during some prior decade the pump (which connected to a cistern) was probably her only source of water. A step, a narrow walkway, and a foot or two of grass separated it from her back door.

The pump stood on a low platform on the grass. On top of the pump or hanging from the water spout was a can or bucket with water in it, kept there to prime it. We poured the water down the pipe not caring if every drop made it into the hole -- spilled water didn't matter because we were outside -- and as soon as the last drop was poured, we began to pump the handle up and down. Out gushed water, cold and fresh and clean, into the bucket that we'd hung over the spout. The faster we pumped, the faster the water flowed. It was a trick to learn when to quit pumping so we didn't overflow the water bucket and get soaked!

The pump's platform was a common place for both children and adults to sit. At right is my father (with a sheepish grin) sitting on the platform. When the pump's platform was dry, we kids often sat there to play I Spy, I'm Thinking, or other quiet games. Sometimes it was the starting place for Mother, May I. The pump is a memorable part of my childhood but it was never the focus of any photographs, just part of the background in several snapshots.

You can imagine that the grass around the pump was well-watered and abundant. One day our attention turned to the grass under our feet. It was then that we noticed clover and began looking for a four leaf clover. Surprise! We found one!
No doubt you know the myth that a four leaf clover brings good luck. With clover in hand we were in great shape for the next ice cream cone, cookie, or whatever it was we thought was good luck on that day.

One of us ran into the house to show the prize to Gramma. She admired it and came back outside. Then the strangest thing happened: she looked at the clover on the ground for a minute and picked another one. After that it seemed that nearly every day she found another four leaf clover. Her eyes were often better than ours and she saw them when we couldn't. She teased us that she was growing a four leaf clover patch. We didn't believe her of course, but we could never explain why there were always a few to be found growing in her yard near the pump.

It is a happy memory to find myself a child at my grandmother's pump outside her back door, with or without a four leaf clover in my hand. I wish I could take a quick walk to her house and have a visit with her now!

My grandmother, Emma Virginia Bickerstaff Meinzen, would be celebrating a birthday today if she were still alive. She was born July 6, 1893, in Jefferson County, Ohio.

Happy, Happy Birthday, Gramma! May family and friends surround you and bring you joy on this day!


  1. What a great story, Nancy. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Such great memories! How wonderful that your grandparents were so close by. Nancy, I wish you a happy day as you remember your dear Gramma, and may you find a four leaf clover today.

    Cheers to you,

  3. What wonderful memories...I know I have said it before, but you have such a way of painting a picture with have a gift for writing, and for capturing moments in time.

  4. What a lovely memory. I never had any luck finding four-leaf clovers - it must be a gift!

  5. a wonderful post the photo of your grandpa.

  6. What a sweet story about such fun memories, Nancy! Wishing you a day full of good luck as you remember your Gramma!

  7. What a lovely post! I felt like I was there with you, your descriptions were so clear!


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