My mom's parents, Lucile and Willis Logan, owned a 25-acre farm in Taylor County, West Virginia.
The two of them raised four children, then continued to live a simple, old-fashioned lifestyle. They kept cows for milk. They kept chickens for eggs. They grew their own vegetables. They often got their protein from varmints, like squirrel or ground-hog. I helped milk cows. I collected eggs. I saw Grandma behead chickens. I hiked in the woods. I picked berries. I used an outhouse. For a couple of weeks each year, I got to experience a rural, agrarian way of life that was a huge contrast to our families' life in industrial Baltimore. Everything moved so slowly. It was like visiting another country. Grandma played local gospel and country music radio in the house. When she sat down to watch her soap opera, she strung beans, or darned socks, or did something constructive with her hands. I never once saw her sitting idle.
Grandad chopped firewood every day that I can remember. Grandma baked bread almost every day. The old Philco refrigerator in the kitchen seemed extraneous. You know they didn't really need it.
Still, their house was full of books and news magazines. Grandad read voraciously, and kept nearly every magazine he ever read. All over the house there were stacks of old, mildewed magazines. I spent many hours studying old copies of "The Saturday Evening Post" from 1956, or "Coronet," from 1943. I read articles about politics, entertainment and sports. I loved looking at old advertisements. Back then, most ads featured long blocks of wonderfully written copy. I read every word. And the visuals: photography still wasn't popular back then. Most ad agencies hired talented illustrators to create sumptuous worlds of material wealth and comfort. I was hooked. I grew up and worked as a magazine designer, and then an advertising designer.
After my grandparents both died, there was no way to maintain their house. It was literally falling apart, and with no permanent residents, it was prone to break-ins. The family made the difficult decision to level the house. All of those memories are gone, but a few pictures remain:
Today, I can still smell the meadow. I can hear the sound of the cows braying. I can feel the bounce of our station wagon as we drove up the rough dirt road that led to their home.
We park the station wagon. Grandma is there to greet us. She's wearing a work dress and her hair is pulled back in a bun, as always. She's so happy to see us, and we're so happy to see her. She's so full of life. She loves my sister and I so unconditionally. She smiles at us so sweetly. I'm so happy to be here.
Our family still owns the Logan farm. We'll always own the Logan farm