Our Demise

My dad, my cousin Lori, my aunt Carol and uncle Wes in the Barron's back yard, circa 1976.
My dad, my cousin Lori, my aunt Carol and uncle Wes in the Barron's back yard, circa 1976.
Russell and Alleen Barron on their 50th wedding anniversary, 1980.
Russell and Aileen Barron on their 50th wedding anniversary, 1980.

One of the things my sister Nicole and I looked forward to the most as we were growing up was the trip we made two or three times a year to Independence, Missouri, to visit our Barron grandparents, Russell and Aileen. Russell died in 1987 at the age of 89, and Aileen died in 1997 and was about 87.

Nicole and I, along with our cousin Lori, have a vast cadre of great memories from our days at that little house on R.D. Mize (“our demise”) road. I know Nicole will chime in and add more to this list in the comments, but there are a few examples:

  • Riding the two tricycles in the basement, long after we were too big for trikes.
  • Playing the board game “Sorry.”
  • Playing with the stuff in the den closet, which included a hat box filled with junk toys. The best toy in that toy box was the empty Bufferin bottle.

    Waving goodbye to Hazel and Lewis Walsh at the house on R. D. Mize Road, circa 1977. I am not certain of their kinship to the Barrons.
    Waving goodbye to Hazel and Lewis Walsh at the house on R. D. Mize Road, circa 1977. I am not certain of their kinship to the Barrons.
  • The back yard had a huge willow tree in the middle of it, which we would climb or play under.
  • With our cousin Lori, Nicole and I made a concoction of willow seeds and Old Spice after shave, with a few other items in the basement, which we called “crummards.”
  • Also in the back yard was the garden, where the Barrons grew strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, apples, tomatoes, green beans, and other assorted fruits.
  • By the time I was a young teenager, I was using their riding lawn mower, which I thought was cool because it had a five speed shifter on the floor.
  • Grandma always had generic orange soda for us out in the garage fridge.
  • Grandpa smoked about three packs of unfiltered Camels a day.
  • The smoking stand in the den: thousands of rubber bands on and in it.
  • The number one TV show on in their house: Kansas City Royals baseball.
  • Number on topic of conversation in their house: the price of gasoline on the turnpike.

    The author in the Barron's den in 1987. Note the smoking stand on the left side of the frame.
    The author in the Barron's den in 1987. Note the smoking stand on the left side of the frame.
  • The sound of the spring on the door to the garage; I’m not sure how, but that sound summed up a whole week of summer fun there.
  • The same applied to the smell of the basement when it had all the garden stuff packed away in the off season; the smell got stronger as you walked down the cement steps to the basement, and by the bottom step, you were back in that place.
  • Nicole and I shared the bedroom with the twin beds in it. On warm nights the windows were open because there was no air conditioning, and the wispy white curtains would silently billow out like ghosts as we slept. Nicole and I weren’t exactly aware of it until we were a little older, but that room was actually the Barron’s bedroom. They slept in twin beds because Russell’s arthritis couldn’t tolerate movement of the bed.
  • There was a foot stool in the den made from coffee cans, covered in bread wrappers woven together.
  • The house only had one bathroom, which usually clogged under the stress of our visits.
  • Grandma’s breakfast was fantastic. She cooked up the classics, including fried eggs, sausage, bacon, and toast.
  • My mom told a story about seeing grandma cleaning the stove. As she scrubbed, the stove didn’t appear to be getting any cleaner, when it dawned on Mom that grandma wasn’t cleaning with a scouring pad, but was instead using a sausage patty.
The family gathered in the back yard in Independence, Missouri; this was probably Memorial Day, about 1978. Note the enormous willow tree and the garden beyond.
The family gathered in the back yard in Independence, Missouri; this was probably Memorial Day, about 1978. Note the enormous willow tree and the garden beyond.
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3 Comments

  1. Did mother ever tell you the story of her first visit to the Barron household? She took a bus from Columbia, and got off several stops (and therefore towns) too soon. She had to call grandpa to come get her. When she finally arrived, she discovered that she’d be sleeping with Carol (a complete stranger to her) — not just in the same room, but in the same bed. She managed that until Kilroy, the family dog, decided to spend the entire night breathing rank dog breath into her face.

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  2. You forgot the miserable part – no air conditioning! Grandma and Grandpa were accustomed to it, but you all would bring your own fans.
    That top pic where I’m on my knees? That was the 4-leaf clover patch. I couldn’t tell you how many came out of that one little area of clover, but you were guaranteed at least 2 or three every time you looked.
    Hazel, of Hazel and Louis, was Grandpa’s sister. They traveled from Oregon about once a year for a visit, and typically had some new kind of RV. Sometimes they’d bring their granddaughter, Judy.
    I remember entertaining myself at their house by “cleaning out” various junk drawers. There really wasn’t any actual cleaning involved, I would remove everything, from those plastic tax receipt tokens to hundreds of eraser-less pencils, and end up putting it all back.
    I have another story of when Nicole was little, but I don’t think she’s appreciate me posting it in a public forum. Good times.

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