My mom (Ruth Cole Jackson), brother (Jay Cole Simser), and I (Ginny Jackson) lived with my grandparents, "Ma" and Granddad (Sadie Cole and Dr. Clarence Gordon Cole), from 1954 until the spring of 1964. It was a great neighborhood to be a kid in, with plenty of natural places to explore, sunsets to watch, stars to wish upon, and dreams to dream.
Ma had an antique shop in what would now be called a three-season room. (See article below). She died in the fall of 1959. Mom and Jay and I had bedrooms in the basement. Granddad built closets out of cedar in the largest room. The flooring was concrete, and whenever it rained, water would seep through the walls of the foundation . We would sing as we swept it out the door on the south side. One time a snake crawled in and left Mom scared for quite a few weeks afterwards. Ma stored her canned vegetables and fruit on shelves that were located under the stairs. Granddad had a workbench on the west side of the basement next to the door entering the garage that was under the house. He kept the materials he used to refinish furniture on shelves also. I don’t remember vehicles being in the garage, but I do remember him refinishing furniture there. When Granddad was taking care of me and working in the garage, he gave me a coffee can filled with water and an old paintbrush, and I would "paint" the outside steps or the outside west wall.
After Ma died in 1959, Mom and I shared her old bedroom that was in the southwest corner of the house. Jay would sleep in the room where the antique shop had been when he came home from college in the summertime. This was a great improvement from sleeping in the basement. Granddad’s room was in the northwest corner, the coldest room upstairs. Whenever Mom would make candy, she would keep it on a table there. Granddad put a basketball hoop outside the garage underneath his bedroom window. To protect the window from being broken he put wooden slats on it.
At one point, there was a house on the north part of the property. I barely remember it, and I am not sure how long or why it was there. I don’t remember anyone living in it. Jay put in posts tied together with rope stretching from the highway to the top of that hill so I could climb up it easier to my pretend fort. The driveway came in the north side of the front yard where a house is now. It forked, and to the left it ran to the garage, and to the right it went to where the house was. The driveway was gravel up to about a few car lengths by the garage. When the snow melted in the springtime Granddad would sweep/shovel the water down to the highway. He also would have gravel put on the driveway on a regular basis.
Granddad had a garden in the northwest part of the property. I remember the cabbages, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, rhubarb, and being outside while he worked. Ma had a flower garden on the south side of the front yard where she grew roses. On the north side right next to the house by the steps was a patch of mint. The property had lots of trees to play in (apples, pear, and plum). The lilac hedge, in front of the yard bordering the top of the hill from the highway, gave privacy to the house and smelled wonderful. There was a mock orange bush by the middle door that entered into the living room. A bridal veil bush stood by the entrance into the antique shop on the southeast corner of the house. There were at least three peony bushes scattered in the front yard, too. At one point, and I don’t remember why, when, or where it came from, there was a remodeled chicken coop in the backyard that Jay used as a retreat.
When we lived there, the house was the first house north of the Casey Motel. There was a farmhouse and barn across the street from us where the Terrones family lived. This burned down after we moved into Ames. There weren’t any houses north of us on the west side. There was a nursery at the bottom of the hill on the east side. Mrs. Calhoun stayed there seasonally but didn’t have water, so would come to our place and get it. Again, I don’t remember why or for how long she did this.
Doctor Adams’ house was west of ours, but we were surrounded by fields. There was an alfalfa field between us and Top-O-Hollow where my aunt Jean Bates lived. I could go over there and only had a small creek to jump across in her backyard. I remember when there weren’t any houses between Top-O-Hollow and 20th street. Top-O-Hollow was gravel and her house was always dusty until the road was "oiled". I’m not sure what was put on the gravel roads, only that it cut down the dust and the road was darker after it was put on.
I remember hearing when we were annexed by Ames that we just got "their" water and the dog catcher. Our well water sure tasted better! When we lived there the highway was old highway 69 and connected to the new one via Top-O-Hollow where it does now.
I lived there from the time I was two until eleven and a half, so my memories are more emotional then factual. I loved living in the country and riding a school bus to Gilbert school. The sunrises and sunsets could be enjoyed without going outside. The neighbors were birds, squirrels, and rabbits; sometimes I would hear coyotes. With the exception of gravel trucks, occasional vehicles and visits to the Casey Motel to get soda pop, there weren’t any noises caused by people. It was a great place to grow up.