June 16, 2012

Welcome to Wheatland


Last week when I found the dress I wore yesterday and my cousin's bridesmaid dress at the thrift store, I also found this adorable vintage floral romper.  I was first attracted to it because it has purple and orange flowers--my wedding colors!

Today Kaden and I headed up to Wheatland, Wyoming to celebrate my Grandpa's birthday as well as Father's Day.

I grew up with my Grandpa being a large fatherly role model in my life.  He is the one that taught me how to ride a bike and gave me a lot of those kind of warm childhood memories. 

I've disclosed on this blog before that I grew up poor.  Well, to give a bit more insight to how poor, we were homeless for bit.  Not living on the streets homeless, but for my second grade year, we didn't have a place to live. We lived out of suitcases in friends of my parent's basements, hotels and pretty much just wherever we could.  

At a certain point, we ended up moving up to Wheatland, Wyoming with my grandparents.  My mom home-schooled my sister and I.   Even though we were close to my grandparents before that, it was at this time that we really got to know my grandparents as another branch of our immediate family.

So every time I make the two and some change hour trip up to Wheatland, I am overcome with nostalgia of my childhood.  Even though I was miles from any peers and we didn't have a house, it was the first time in my life that I felt like I had a home.  And on this particular trip, I decided to take y'all on a little tour of what I look forward to when I go to this teeny tiny town. 

Safeway.  Weird way to start this trip down memory lane, huh?  But here's the thing.  The very first thing that my Grandma did when we arrived at her house for a visit or otherwise was sit down with us to ask us what we wanted for dinner for the day/week/whatever.  My Grandma was an amazing cook and she never failed to make tons of delicious food for every meal.  All from scratch.  All from memory.  We would make the list, go to this Safeway and get the goods.  While we walked through the store, my Grandmother would converse with every crew member of the store.  They knew her, she knew them and they even knew us.  By first name basis.  With age and grade level. 

Downtown.  You can make it from one end of downtown Wheatland to the other in about three minutes with one street light.  But this fabric store was frequented by my Grandmother, my sister, my brother and I.  My Grandma was an outstanding seamstress.  She made wedding dresses, quilts, matching outfits for my sister and I, pillows, wallets, damn near anything you could think of.  And, because she was a lady, when we went downtown, she got all fancied up.  She had to "look uptown" to go downtown.  Even if it was only Wheatland. 

Tummy Hill.  This hill used to be much steeper and unpaved.  My Grandpa had a big diesel Ford truck.  We took this road at every opportunity because my Grandpa would start gunning it from the end of the street so that when we got to the top of this hill and coasted down, it tickled your tummy just like a rollercoaster.  And he would always say "Hold on to your girdles!" before we went down.  We would always beg him to take us again justonemoretiiiiiiiime.  And he always got suckered into it. 

The Park.  This huge park in Wheatland is the staple of my childhood.  It even has a lot of the same equipment that it had when I was little.  Take this slide for example.  This baby has been a-round for a loooooong time.  Still hot as a mother when you touch the metal to any part of your skin on a summer day.

And these swings are the same swings that I used to swing on as a little girl.  The slide that is attached to the swings?  Also something I slid down when I was at ages younger than my kids.

While we would run around and play on every piece of equipment possible, my Grandma would sit on one of these porch swings and watch.  We would always take breaks in our playing to come and sit with her.   She would smile, ask us if we were havin' fun in her southern voice and give us a squeeze before we were back off again.

The Movie Theater.  And I mean, the movie theater.  There is only one.  And it plays one movie per week.  Before my Grandpa would drop us off, he would take us to the Conoco station and let us each pick out whatever candy, soda or godknowswhat we wanted to munch on.  It was pretty much like Trick or Treating without having to wear spandex.  

Sundaes.  The Shell station has a sundae station that is unsurpassed in my book.  It has all kinds of ice cream and yogurt and as many toppings as you want.  We would visit this little gas station ice cream parlor at least once a night per visit--even if it was winter time.  And usually, it was at my Grandpa's request. 

Recently, a tornado cut through Wheatland just five miles away from the house that I lived in with my grandparents.  My Grandma passed away eight years ago.  And my Grandpa lives in a different house.  I have driven by this house before, but not to the house.  My mom, her boyfriend, Kaden and I decided we were going to go to the old farmhouse and just make sure it was all right.  This barn behind me housed many cats, horses and my Grandpa's oooooold old car from like the 1940's.

When we got here, though, we realized that while the tornado had missed the house, something else had not.  The house that I had grown up in, the house that had produced so many wonderful childhood memories of pancake mornings, lawnmower rides with my Grandpa, family reunions with volleyball nets and feeding carrots to the horses, was completely trashed.  Inside and out. 

I could not believe my eyes. Beer bottles, recliners, syringes, gas cans, chairs, trash, toys . . . anything you could possibly imagine.  And it was EVERYWHERE.   It was absolutely heartbreaking.  It was clear that someone had lived here in heaps of garbage and picked up and left.  Foreclosure notices and utility shut off notices were all over the doors and windows.  I could not believe my eyes.  My Grandma would roll over in her grave if she had seen her house like this.  

My mom and I rifled through the fields of trash, still completely in awe of its destruction to find this tree.  On this tree used to hang a tire swing.  My Grandpa used to push us on this tire swing endlessly and it always felt like were flying.  Now, there is no swing.   Of evidence that there ever was one. 

Visiting my grandparents old house was not the lovely end to the day I was hoping for.   I still am in shock at the destruction.  But, I don't see the house that way.  I still can see my Grandma cooking in the kitchen, see my Grandpa riding his lawnmower out in the front yard and see the beautiful horses grazing in the fields.  Yes, regardless of what I saw today, I will still always have a soft spot for this little town in the big dub up north.  And it wasn't because of the house.  It was because of my grandparents.

  Floral Romper-vintage; Mustard Belt-Kohl's; White Cork Sandals-Madden Girl; Earrings-gifted; Necklace-Empowerment Circle of Support from Avon

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