Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Ghosts of The Last Arboretum Farm..... by Diane Ogden

I was six years old riding in the back seat of my Dad's 1948 Chevrolet, no seat belts.  It was the longest driveway in the history of my world.  I had traveled that long driveway many times in my little life.  It was a turn right off the old Highway known now as the belt line at Todd Drive.  Arbor Hills holds the ghosts of the last old farm Bowman Dairy owned and where my Grandpa and Grandma Jungbluth lived and worked.  They milked for the dairy.  I also recall "Pa," the name he was known by, had two big workhorses he plowed the fields with.  Dark blue coveralls holding and steering a heavy metal plow behind those huge blonde work horses. And in my Grandma's eyes I could do no wrong. And then one day we moved away.  I was 7 and I never saw her again.  But I never forgot her ever.

We came back to Wisconsin for a vacation and drove over to the old farm up the long driveway to the place I remembered as my Grandparents farm.  It was deserted.  We walked over to the barn where tools lay strewn about in pieces of straw.  Above on makeshift poor man's hooks hung bridles and rope.  An old barrel, a pitchfork.  It was like time stood still and at any moment Pa would saunter in with his unshaven face, chew under his lip, and a half cocked smile always.  But he didn't walk in.

 On our way walking around the barn I stopped "dead."  There in the grass was my "Pa's" boot.  His boot he used to pull on every day to do chores and live his life.  It was empty but it was so ghostly touching for all of us.  My Dad's eyes watered up but he continued walking. He did not pick up the boot nor take it with us.  Me, being overly sentimental would have taken the darn thing home for some godly or ungodly reason.  Put a plant in it or something!!

Today I went on a business call to give an upcoming client an estimate.  My GPS took me into Arbor Hills exactly where my Grandpa's farm had been.  Where the outhouse sat 15 feet from the RR tracks and shook like the dickens when it passed. Not the outhouse, the train.  I recall! I had no idea this is where my possible new client lived until I turned off the frontage road Todd Drive.  My eyes started scanning the area.  Where is the long road?  Where are the RR tracks?  Who lives on the land I used to love and be loved at?

I pulled into her driveway and knocked.  We introduced ourselves and I couldn't contain myself a second longer....I asked if there was a RR track close by.  That my Grandparents lived on an old farm at the edge of the Arboretum and I think it is very close to right here.  She said yes.  The old RR tracks were removed a couple years ago and replaced with a paved bike trail.  She then told me a story her neighbor had shared with her about an old farm up in the woods with a very long driveway...where she had attended a couple parties in the past.  Seems a single man lived there for a time.  Why I could hardly believe my ears were hearing this.  I had walked into my past and was eager to hear more.  She told me she would get me in touch with her neighbor soon. Not soon enough I thought.  Even though it had been 50 some years since I last saw it, I was suddenly impatient.

Not only was this a time capsule moment but let me add her home was out of this world amazing.  Right out of Odana Road Antique Shop.  Everything used and from the earth.  It was not dusty, rusty, and old. Rather it carried an air of creative class along with a huge Bison rug in the family room.  They order bison meat and the coat comes with it. Don't ask!  All I know is I have to have one considering my maternal Grandfather had the first Bison Ranch in Texas.  I was getting all my time capsule bases met in one day... This one.

I walked out of her home telling her how special it had been for me to have met her and her home.  She responded likewise.  We exchanged facebook information and hope to talk again soon.  She gave me directions to the entrance of the conservatory where the RR tracks were and where I might find a Hawk feather like the two she found and displayed in her home.  I had told her after my Father passed away he came to me in a dream  as a beautiful Red Tailed Hawk....  Strong dream.  Since then I have wanted a Hawk feather.  I believe I will find it soon on the trail of he and his fathers old farm.
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