Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gramma's House


My grandfather inherited the Salt Lake City lot where his father, a Staffordshire trained potter, had built a home, pottery workshop and kiln in about 1860. In 1903 grandpa tore down the old buildings and built a sturdy brick "Prairie Style" bungalow for his new bride on the lot. He married my grandma on September 24, 1903 and they moved into their brand-new fashionable home on 412 South First West.

The ultra-modern turn-of-the-century house had an attic, a cellar, kitchen, pantry, bathroom, dining room, music room, parlor, two bedrooms and a front and back porch. The music room at the front of the house had heavy oak sliding doors, a Chickering player piano, and a hand-cranked Victrola. It was my favorite room in the house.

When Gramma was baby-sitting me, I was allowed to put the paper music rolls into the Chickering and pump away on the pedals. Bicycle Built for Two, Alexander's Rag Time Band, Down By The Old Mill Stream, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, I Love You Truly, Peg O' My Heart. I could "play" nostalagic old tunes on either the pianola or the Victrola. When I grew tired of old tunes, I could compose new exotic music on the Chickering, pounding out ear-splitting, disharmonious cacophonies on those antique ivories. Gramma would simply close the sliding double doors and go to another part of the house where she wouldn't hear me. Gramma's are great that way.

Gramma's house was downtown and we lived in the suburbs. In the 1950s, going to her house was like a trip into the Victorian Era. Everything was sooo old fashioned -- and I absolutely loved it -- the red velvet camelback settee, the Mission library table, the Tiffany lamps, Persian rugs, the claw-footed bath tub, even the old wood burning stove in the kitchen on which Gramma actually cooked.

Our house was new in 1949. Clearly a different era. Everything was slick and sleek in our house. Chrome. Plastic. Naugahyde. Bright colors. The styles of the 1950s. We had backyard barbeques and chain link fences.

At Gramma's house, I would swing on her front wrought-iron gate while watching the slow moving trains go by. I would sit on her front porch drinking lemonade and eating Lorna Doones (Grandpa's favorite) and watch the interesting town folk pass by -- men and women in hats, men in suits, women in dresses and high-heels. You always dressed up when you went to town.

On Sunday evenings after church, we'd drive downtown to visit Grandpa and Grandma. The visit would end by watching What's My Line? on TV and eating a bowl of peppermint ice cream.

In 1954, Grandpa and Grandma E. were interviewed on a reel-to-reel tape recorder by their young Bishop, Thomas S. Monson, now the Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I remember their voices so clearly because of this recording. Both Grandpa and Grandma testified that Thomas Monson would be an Apostle and Prophet one day.

Grandpa died in 1957, just before I turned eight. The house at "412" was sold and Grandma eventually moved in with us in Holladay when I was ten. She became my best friend. Even though she didn't like animals, she grew to love my fluffy white dog "Chico." She taught me to embroider and I'd roll her freshly washed long grey hair in brown paper bag strips. We'd watch Perry Mason and Gun Smoke together. This was one of the best times in my life and it went by so quickly. Grandma died in 1964 at the age of eighty-three. She lived long enough to see President Kennedy assassinated and to see Elder Monson become an Apostle. He was a consistent and faithful visitor in Grandma's old age.

Long after the Eardley's sold their home at "412", a neighbor found a photo wedged up against the fence behind the house. The photograph was of the Ed and Olive Eardley family taken in 1914 before Olive gave birth to twins (1915). Mrs. Cady made sure the photo got back to Grandma.

How did it survive years of harsh winter snow and summer sun? It's a miracle!!

Ed and Olive Eardley 1914
Kenneth (my dad), Edward, Jr. (on Olive's lap), Leanore

Olive Pixton Eardley (1903) and Sheri (1973)

1 comment:

Marty said...

This post gave me chills! I love the photos, too.