Monday, August 9, 2010

Opa's legacy.

My grandfather passed away last Tuesday and I've spent the past six days traveling to, around, and from Wisconsin. It was a hectic time as family made last-minute plans to celebrate the life of a man who lived through all of the major events of the past century (he died just weeks short of his 100th birthday).

Years before I was born, my Opa gave up city life in Milwaukee for a quieter life in the country. So he moved my Oma and whichever of his ten kids was still living at home to a farm outside of Madison, Wisconsin. That farm became a gathering place for my mom, her siblings, and their families. I remember summers filled with bonfires and noisy picnics, and the "secret" clubhouse my older cousins created in one of the barns. I was too young to join in on their fun, but spied on them constantly, filled with envy and longing to be a teenager.

As the years passed and our family grew apart (time and distance are powerful adversaries), big family gatherings at the farm became a thing of the past. Several years ago, the farmhouse was destroyed by fire and all that remains of the house is the foundation and cellar.

I got the chance to prowl around the land and barns with my dad and Onkel Siegfried (the uncle who cared for my Opa even through his last moments) exploring the fields and buildings that hold so many of my childhood memories.

(It needs to be noted that my Onkel Sieg is an avid "collector" of cars and many of these "projects" of his have been a work-in-progress for most of my life...but really the cars add to the charm of both Onkel Sieg and the farm. Additionally, this collection is part of the legacy my Opa left. He loved collecting things: children (10), languages (German, Polish, Russian, English, a little French, etc.), instruments, (piano, trumpets, accordions, french horns, flutes, clarinets, violins), books, nick-nacks, and all sorts of other things. I inherited, like many of my relatives, his love of old things with a story. If you talk to anyone on my mom's side for longer than two minutes, you'll be able to figure out their specific passion/obsession/collection. It's all Opa's fault--it's hereditary.) 

 Greetings from a vintage Volvo. 

 How did it get from California to rural Wisconsin? Your guess is as good as mine.

 I love this old tractor.

 Part of Opa's extensive firewood collection, probably salvaged from an old barn.

 I was terrified of this well as a little girl.

 Old, red barns are scattered all over Wisconsin's landscape.

 This barn was where my older cousins had their "secret" clubhouse. I still covet a membership.

 Old barn and silo.

 Part of the long, winding driveway.

 First view of the farm from the street.

 Old Frigidaire salvaged from the fire.

 The remains of the farmhouse.

 Growing over.

 Cellar door.

 What's left of the old piano. My Opa loved music and collected all sorts of instruments.

 Barn #2.

 Now, on to Onkel Sieg's "collection."

 1950s Hudson Super Wasp.

 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, we love you.

 Bonnie + Clyde

My mom's old car--1970s Volkswagen Fastback. I've got dibs if Sieg ever gets around to fixing it up.

Just a drop in the bucket.

A row of Opel GTs.

The back forty.

3 comments:

Christen said...

I'm sorry to hear about your Opa, though I did enjoy your photos. Hope you are doing well.

Joan Perry; Sidewalk Curator said...

I am sorry for your loss but wow, what a photo story. Take care.

Anonymous said...

you've got it kid...what a fotojourn (sojourner?) thanks for the trip. i like "COW-29"

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