"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Already Home - Spending Treasure XVIII

“We’re going up home this week-end,” my mom told me as we snapped beans in the back yard. “You can ask her then.”

She was talking about her mama - my “Grandma P” - and “up home” was the home of her youth. As we sat under the shade of the big, old, locust tree, I contemplated what I would say. My thoughts had changed, now, from what I wanted to ask my grandma, to what I wanted to say to my mom.

I finally just blurted it out. “Mom, you shouldn’t call that your ‘home’ anymore. This is your home!” I told her adamantly.

I was probably 8 or 9 at the time; and for some reason it had always bothered me when Mom called her folks’ home, “home”.

A selfish thought; probably, yes.  But I wanted my mom to only speak of our home as her “home”. I understood the connection for her – Bonner’s was her childhood home and it would be forever in her heart. But for some reason, I didn’t like to hear her say it. Yeah, I know. It was very selfish of me.

I don’t believe she ever called her home town “home” in front of me again.

Regardless, we spent a lot of time “up home” in my youth.  Both my paternal grandparents and my maternal grandparents were from that little town near the northern border. Therefore, we took week-end trips there for as long as I can remember. I don’t believe I have any fonder memories than those of the time we spent at both sets of my grandparents homes at the northern-most county.

Besides the week-end trips, there were holidays, and summer vacations, and even a time of work.  Every summer when I was little my sister and I would spend a week at Grandpa and Grandma’s house.  I treasured those times and I still do. I always will.

I am now well past the age my mom was when I told her “Don’t say ‘home’.” But I have long found that far northern county often times calling to me - that little town of Bonner’s Ferry still beckons me “home”.  And today I find myself fondly referring to my parents’ home town as “home”.  It’s my roots.  It’s that simple; and the roots are deep and they are wide, firmly buried deep in the dark, rich soil – tilled up now and then so that the old growth of memories can spring forth anew.

Today, my sister gets called “home” a little more often than I do.  She goes home almost weekly. I am not able to do that, but periodically she will give me a call and say, “I’m headed north; you wanna ride along?”

So it was, this week.  I was ready to head to town, complete with my list of errands to accomplish while in the city. I was almost out the door, when my phone beeped.  I checked the text. It was from my nephew. “Going to Bonners. Wanna ride along.”

Yep! I do. Change of plans; without a second thought.

The drive was beautiful, as it always is. We reminisced as we drove; talked religion and politics (woops); and checked out the progress of the road construction on the highway and at the bridge.

Once arriving in Bonners, I knew what our agenda would be.  There would be a stop at the local Safeway to shop, now at a different location than when we were kids. Doesn’t seem anywhere near the same, but it hasn’t seemed the same for some time, as changes had been made long ago to the store at the old location. That’s ok; we also like the new store at the top of the hill.

Lunch would be at the Panhandle Café - the only café in town, that remains almost entirely the same as it was back when we were kids.

There would be a Post Office run.  Oh, the memories that wonderful old building holds. Walks with Grandpa to get the mail, one of the most treasured memories I hold. That building still holds Grandpa’s hand. He climbed those stairs daily. I know his hand held that railing as the years passed and he grew weaker with age. I’m sure the deep, dark mahogany door caressed his shoulder from time to time as he entered the building to slip the key into 124. The boxes are the same boxes that were there 100 years ago.  

“Mornin’ POP!” I hear the postman say – echoes from the past reverberating in my heart. Grandpa was loved and respected everywhere he went. Make sure you don’t forget Nuffy, Grandpa!

If we planned it right, on this day, we would hear the noon whistle before we entered the café for lunch.  Oh my goodness! That whistle is not one tone different than the one we heard daily, back when we were visiting Grandma’s house on those hot days of summer vacation. Does anyone even remember when the home towns across America would blow the noon whistle daily? The people of Bonner’s Ferry do. Back then, it meant Grandpa would be home for lunch momentarily. And “lunch” would mean a complete dinner; complete with lemon or apple pie.

On this summer day, as we did then, we would walk the sidewalks, simply to be in town. For me, I seem to absorb strength from the memories. I don’t mean for that to sound strange or “New Age”. That is the last thing I would ever believe. But I do believe there is strength in memories, strength in history.  I glanced at the court house. It is more beautiful than ever. My great uncle had been Chief of Police there; forever it seemed. Of course it was not forever, but rather only a brief time in this town’s life span.

We walked down to the fire station.  A new monument had caught my eye when we entered town today. “Let’s take a picture of it!” I exclaimed to my sister.  My son’s newly found interest in a career as a fire fighter since becoming a volunteer at our local station was the catalyst for my interest.  But also, another great uncle had been a volunteer at this station years and years ago.

Wow! We struck gold! There was his name on the first line of a tribute to firemen with more than 10 years of service to this community. The first line!! Number 6 of the tribute! He was there at the very beginnings of this little city. Roots! Deep and rich and treasured!

Finally, on this summer day, we took a drive up to the river (just a couple blocks away) to check out the levels.  “How high’s the water, mama?” Too high for what sis wants to do on this day.

“Wanna cruise the fairgrounds?” sis asked.

“Yep!  Always!”

“Coming to the fair this year?”


Remember when Uncle Wayne walked us over here that time he came to visit Grandma? Yes, I remember. I didn’t ask this time, but it’s a memory that is always there when I think of this county’s fairgrounds.

“Remember the drive to the dump in Grandpa’s old, red International?” This, I did ask; simply to reminisce.

“Yes!” sissie answered. “It used to seem so far!” It seemed like such an excursion back then.  I don’t believe it is even a mile down the West Side Road.

Well, that’s about all for this time.  This doesn’t even begin to tell of the memories, to explain the roots, to reveal the ties, or express the love. I want to live here some day.  I will be buried at Grandview. The little town calls me and comforts me.  I understand her past and hear voices echoing across the years.

“Palmer, the kids are coming home today! The pie is in the oven, the chicken is on the stove. I’m going to ask the grandkids to sing “How Great Thou Art”!

“Here they are, Del! They are already home.”

Historical Building - USPO
The Church our Paternal Grandpa Pastored

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