Recently I was at a Scottish Genealogy Conference. One of the workshops was a repeat for me, so I quietly slipped out the back door and wandered around the vendors. As always, I was drawn to the booksellers. I saw a book that I had been thinking of buying online for a while. I turned the book over. $25. Very thin book. As I was wondering just how badly I wanted this book after all, I began flipping through the pages. I was drawn to the photos in the centre of the book. Nothing too special about the photos and the information I may be able to get online....then I saw it. The very last photo was a picture of my Papa's house. The house my father grew up in! I was SOLD.
When I got to the cashier, I showed her my amazing find. She asked if the house was small. Suddenly I was transported back in time and memories came flooding back. Small? To me it was always HUGE. Big rooms and high ceilings. Of course by the time I arrived on the scene, there were only my grandpa and 2 of my aunts in the house. My aunts shared one of the huge bedrooms at the front of the house and Papa had the other one. The rooms seemed enormous to me, but it is hard to imagine what it was like when my dad was living there with his seven siblings. Four boys in one bedroom and four girls in the other. Dad said often when his mom went to wake the kids in the morning, there would be other kids from the neighbourhood in the bed as well. The living room was large and spacious. Of course it doubled as a dining room but the table was up against the window most of the time, so it seemed like an end piece rather than a focal point. Papa had his own chair at the side of the fireplace. The room smelled sweet - pipe tobacco. Quite a contrast to the reek outside from the coal chimneys. The room was always warm (not heated warm, cozy warm - inviting). Papa's house was always so much quieter than my Gran's house. Of course with 20 children - all adults now but dropping in at all hours - Gran's house didn't stand a chance in the "quiet" department.
Papa's house was the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night. There was always music and singing and laughter and above all, family and kin. Dad carried these memories of the "Cochrina Ceilidhs" in his heart and his memory for life.
Papa's house had a emulsion heater. If a bath was wanted, the secret door at the side of the fireplace was discreetly opened and the heater "flipped" on. Time was then ticking until it was "ready" and the bath could be drawn. This wait time always seemed to co-incide with the length of time it took to enjoy a cuppa and a blether.
The kitchen and the bathroom, of course, were add-ons to the original house. The part of the bathroom that always fascinated me as a child was the "pull-chain" toilet. Out the back of the house was a loan down to the main street and this loan ran alongside the pit bing. I recall sitting in the bath late one morning and hearing bagpipes. The pipe band was headed down the loan on its way to get ready for a Gala Day practice!
Needless to day, the serendipity of finding that photo was indescribable as was the torrent of memories that accompanied being asked one simple question about the photo. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.....or in this case, a thousand memories!