I grew up in the small town of Molino, Florida, which is located north of Pensacola, Florida in Escambia County. The population as of July 1, 2019 was 1,394.1 Although I could not locate anything to back it up, I would have to estimate back in 1967 when I was born, the population was probably under 500. It was a town where everyone knew everybody.
The house that was my childhood home has been in my dad’s family since 1937. The house was built in 1928. My grandfather used to take the train from Chicago, Illinois to Barrineau Park, Florida where he met my grandmother. He made many trips back and forth, eventually marrying my grandmother and moving her to Chicago where my dad was born. By the time, my dad was a year old, his parents had purchased the family home which was occupied by my grandparents, my dad and his one and only sibling, an older brother, Richard.
Over the next 80 plus years, the home would change many times, not only on the inside, but also on the outside. Currently the home is unrecognizable from what I remember as a child. The one thing that hasn’t changed since I was born is the back porch. The bricks leading up to that concrete porch have busted many lips over the years.
I remember and wish the front of the house was still like it was when I was a child. There was a big porch all the way across the front with big white columns and the longest sidewalk I had ever seen that as kids we had to walk down to get to the road to catch the bus to go to school. I’m sure my love of front porches is because of my childhood home.
This home has been the backbone of my family. The place that I could always go to no matter where I lived or who I was married to or what was going on in my life. It was the most stable thing I’ve ever had. It provided a safe place for my children as they were growing up and a place they could always go “home” too as well. It’s a place where many weddings and family gatherings have taken place. A familiar and steady place that everyone feels love and comfort.
The oldest pictures I have are from 1938; although the house was built in 1928. The people here would be my grandmother, my dad and uncle.
The fireplace in the front was taken out by Hurricane Frederick in September 1979. We reused them to build a new fireplace (shown in a more current picture below). Not sure when the back fireplace was removed; although it was not there when I was a child. The room on the back of the house is where my dad used to sleep as a child. It was later converted to an “inside” back porch and the current back porch.
By 1967 the front of the house had changed as some of the surrounding brick had been removed and the front columns had been changed.
This pic from Easter 1970 shows a different view of the porch where you can see where the original brick had been removed. On the left above the bushes you can see where the brick had originally been.
It would have been after Hurricane Frederick when the chimney fell that daddy changed the front of the house and closed in the front porch turning that area into a den with a much bigger fireplace. The front had cedar siding.
The building to the left is the garage and it changed colors many times as well. I have seen pics of it being silver, brown, red, and most recently yellow. (I always like the red color the most).
The back-porch area, which has been this way more than 50 years. The only thing that changes is the chairs.
The house wasn’t the only thing that changed through the years, the grounds did to. Somewhere along the way a pond was added, which we all love to fish in. It’s probably been there around 10-15 years as of the posting of this story.
This pic shows the house before the most recent renovations along with the red garage, the red barn (on the left) and the yellow building (which use to be part of the chicken pens back in the day).
During the most recent renovation, the cedar siding on the front was covered by vinyl and the front door was removed. The old fireplace from the 1930’s was removed, and a door was put in for a side entry. A new roof was added and other minor updates. The only thing that now looks like “home” is the back porch as the rest of the house looks nothing like my childhood home.
The magnolia trees that had been there my entire life were recently cut down changing up the appearance of the grounds even more than when all the bushes were removed around the house. The yard is still immaculate as dad insists on mowing the grass every week.
All of these changes are hard to accept, but it also shows that time changes everything and all we have left are the memories we make. I wish now that I had taken more pictures of our lives as we were growing up so I would have more memories to share with my children and grandchildren.
My hope is that if you take anything from this post that it would be to cherish every memory you have growing up, take pics of all the changes that take place in your life as that is all you will have when the world changes and life keeps moving on.
One of the most precious memories of all from this childhood home is the family pics we took for my parents 50th anniversary in 2011. This pic is just another reminder that things change every day.
The Original 5
The grandkids, 3 of which are my children
The great-grandchildren, (my grandson)
The last pic of me and my children together!
I have always loved flowers and every time I go to visit my parents I know I will have plenty of opportunity to shoot these fantastic gems. There are so many different ones to look at and I never know the names and even though I’m told what each one is, by the time I get home, I’ve already forgotten the name. Whether I know the name or not, the flowers are till beautiful and the beauty of each is worth being shared. My favorite on this trip were the gladiolus, which my Mother has been growing since I was a child. I never get tired of these.
No idea what these are called, but there pretty.
This is called a shrimp plant.
One of the other things that I love when I go home is a special cat that’s been around for many years. She is part siamese and as always been one of my favorites.
It has been months since I have seen my parents and children. My trip to Louisiana was canceled back in March due to COVID-19 and I was at the point that I needed a break from all the bullshit and was ready to take a trip. Because we live in our RV full-time we are able to take our house with us, so on Thursday, May 14th we headed to Florida. We only drove to the other side of Montgomery as we usually only drive around 4-5 hours before we stop. We don’t like doing 8-9 hour drives. We thought the worse roads we had ever been on were in Louisiana, but going through Birmingham about beat us to death. It hasn’t been that long since we drove through there, but the first time in several years since we drove with the RV attached. It makes a big difference.
We stayed at the first park we stayed in back in 2015 when we began our RV journey the first time in full-time travel mode, Montgomery South RV Park. The park has expanded since 2015 as they have installed several more lots. It was nice to get a pull-through, which all their sites are and it was long enough that we didn’t have to unhook as we would be back on the road before 8:00 am Friday morning. We only drove about two exits before getting off on Exit 142 at Priester’s Pecans. I had ordered some pecans in the mail back in April, but my mom talked about wanting some, so I stopped to get her a 5 pound bag. It would have been cheaper to order online and have them shipped. Found out the sister runs the physical store while a brother runs the online shop and since they don’t get along too well, there is more competition to see who can make more money than they other.
Once we were back on interstate, it wasn’t long before we were pulling into my parents house, arriving around 11:00 am. We only have electric hook up there, but our holding tanks hold the waste and we dump once we’re back on interstate in Alabama. Unfortunately only one daughter was able to join us and she only had 1 kid with her, but we made the most of our time together. On Friday night, we grilled steaks and had everybody over in the RV. I had to do a makeshift table to sit at, but we made it work. One thing I forgot about traveling in the RV is how much it takes to set up and take down each time you move it. I will have to get used to that again if we make too many more trips as it took a lot more time than I remember it taking to complete those tasks.
On Saturday, us girls went for a much needed pedicure while the guys worked on our A/C’s that are not functioning the way they should be. They needed some freon added and 1 of them needs a new mother board. Still having trouble finding the replacement part, but not giving up. We also went to Kohl’s to do some shopping and I’m happy to report that the clothes I bought fit perfectly when I got home. Due to COVID they won’t allow people to try on clothes, so I was taking a chance with all the weightloss as to what size to get. I picked this one correctly. After some shopping we ended up at Joe Patti Seafood to get some shrimp, not only for dinner, but also for me to put in my freezer for the future. Nothing better than fresh ocean shrimp. I also got the hubby some oysters, which he got to enjoy when we got back home.
We were supposed to split our return trip into Sunday and Monday, but we decided we would do the entire drive back on Sunday. I didn’t do any of the driving, but was extremely exhausted by the time we got home around 6:00 pm. It took a few tries to get the RV back in its spot, but without either of us killing each other, we got it done.
Just about every time I am around my Florida child, she wants a photo shoot of either the family or the kids and this trip was no different. She only wanted pics of Madi done, which I was more than happy to do, as she is a gem to photograph and is changing and growing up so fast that I want to have the memories of her childhood as much as her Momma does, if not more.
My 3 favorite poses are below. I can’t believe she is almost 7 years old. She is not a little baby anymore, instead she’s becoming a little girl who is growing up way too fast. She’ll be in second grade next year.
Childhood memories can be good and bad. I have several memories from when I was 4 and 5 that really stand out to me still today. I don’t know if it was due to the fun the memory provided or the trauma that ensued that keeps these fresh in my mind, or if it’s the pictures that I have of these memories that I can look at and remember the good ole’ days.
When I was five years old, I remember getting my first puppy. It was a red short-haired dachshund that we named Duchess. I remember her being so tiny when we first got her. This would be what started my love for this remarkable little breed. At some point in her life, my parents bred her, but she only had 1 puppy. It was a boy and we named him Duke. When I left home at 19 my parents still had them both. Duchess passed first. She was around 18 years old when she passed away. She had arthritis and couldn’t move fast and unfortunately got under the car one day and was run over. The veterinarian said due to her age and health my parents should let her go, so they did. She was buried in a handmade box close to the house. Within a couple years, Duke met the same fate by the same person, who will go unnamed, but I will say it was not my parents that run over them. He was buried in a handmade box as well.
My first puppy, Duchess.
Momma and son, Duchess and Duke
Another memory I have from when I was around 5 was feeding the calves with a bottle. When one of the mommas would quit feeding or couldn’t produce enough milk, we would have to feed the baby with a bottle. I always thought that was the coolest thing to feed them with this big bottle and nipple. I always had to help everybody else out because I didn’t think they knew what they were doing.
Me trying to help feed the baby.
At Christmas, my parents give all three of us kids a go-cart. Only problem was I was not quite 5 years old. The boys were 9 and 11 so they were much better drivers than I was. By the end of the day I had crashed it into the side of the house which was made of brick. Needless to say, it damaged the front so bad that dad had to take it to a friend to get some welding done on it to fix the problem. It wouldn’t be long before it was back at the house. I don’t know how many years we had that thing, but the best part was riding it through the pecan orchard which also served as the cow field and try to avoid hitting the cow paddies. To my recollection I never hit a tree, only the house.
Christmas morning getting my first ride.
Another day enjoying the ride after it was repaired.
My next memory is when I had a knife pulled through my hand that ended up almost cutting 3 fingers off at the tips (no pictures of that). Mom and Dad had left to go to the store and in our house the rule was you didn’t use the phone unless you had Dad’s permission, but if Dad wasn’t there you couldn’t ask him so that meant you couldn’t use the phone. My brothers were supposed to clean the kitchen up as they were older than me. The younger of the two was playing with a knife trying to cut the top off a salt box, but didn’t finish the job so me being me, I picked up the knife and tried to finish it. While doing so he asked for the knife and when I said, NO! He proceeded to snatch it out of my hand by the handle while pulling the 10-11-inch blade through my hand. The three fingers from middle to pinky were cut, pinky almost to the bone. I was bleeding everywhere. The oldest brother grabbed a kitchen towel and wrapped it around my hand. After it got full of blood, he wrapped another one. Nobody could use the phone to call for help, so I just sat there until my parents got home.
We had a couch in our kitchen, which is where I was sitting when my parents finally came back from the store. They immediately saw the blood and asked what happened. They were not happy. They looked at my hand and called my aunt who was a nurse to ask what they should do. She had them bring me to her house so she could look at it and then bandage it enough to get me to the hospital. I ended up having 5 stitches in each finger. The doctor said if he had pulled the knife just a little harder, he would have severed my pinky right off. I still remember the stories my parents told of the horror in the hospital. I screamed so loud my mom couldn’t get far enough down the hallway to not hear me. My dad had to help the nurses hold me down while the doctor sewed me up. I don’t know how many times I have told this story over the years, but it still makes me laugh when I do. I can still see the scars on each finger.
I have other wonderful childhood memories as well, but I’ll save those for another day. Feel free to share one of your favorite childhood memories in the comments below.
Duke in the forefront and Duchess is hiding behind him.
Duchess begging to come inside.
Twelve years ago today was one of the worse days of my life. I had been going on adrenaline for several days as on the 30th of January we brought my husband home to live out his final days near the family. It would be several hours before I was able to get rest as rest was something I didn’t want to do as I didn’t want to leave him alone for one minute. Family came in and out over the next couple of days and on the evening of the 1st I dosed off between 10 and 12 pm. When I woke up startled that I had even fallen asleep I looked over at the man I loved more than anything and saw a tear stained face looking back at me. I felt like the worse wife in the world as he had to take his last breath alone as I sat there sleeping instead of being by his side. The next 36 – 48 hours would be the toughest hours of my life.
Although he had planned for this day way before this moment, I was still not prepared for what I would be facing. The past six weeks had been nothing but hospitals and lots of prayers hoping for a miracle that we never got. Instead I had the most terrifying ride of my life when he was driven from Gainesville to Tallahassee in an ambulance that I insisted on riding in so I would be with him if he did not survive the trip.
The day he died was on a Saturday and since it was so early in the morning when everything happened and because we had done a lot of pre-planning, I was able to finalize everything rather quickly and had his funeral scheduled for the 4th. Because my daughter’s wedding was on the 16th, I was not able to grieve until much later as I wanted her day to be special regardless of what we had all just been through. A few days after the wedding I went back to work, which I had not been at in eight weeks and after a couple days I walked out of my job to figure life out.
It was at this point that the grief really hit me and depression set in that lasted for several months. Hell, if I was being honest, it lasted for years and there’s still times when it rules its ugly head.
After 12 years I’m still grieving, even though I have remarried it still hits me like a tone of bricks come February and I hate to see this month come around each year. To be honest I don’t know that I will ever stop missing him and wishing he were still here. Our memories are forever in my heart.
I love you Brian! You will never be forgotten.
I wanted to share some of his favorite memories.
In August 2001 we took the two younger kids on their first trip to Disney World, which was his favorite place to visit.
Another pic from that 2001 trip.
In December 2001, him and I went on a trip to the smokey mountains. This was a pic along the drive up the mountain towards Cades Cove.
This was his favorite pic during his real estate days. He looked so handsome.
This is from his sons wedding on September 17, 2005. He was so proud of his son and would do anything and everything for him.
In February 2006, he welcomed his first granddaughter into the world. This pic was taken in June of that year.
Come August of the year 2007 another grandson was born into the family.
He was so proud of all his grandchildren, but these two had a special place in his heart.
In October 2007 we had this family picture taken, which would be the last family pic of the whole gang together.
In November 2007 we were sealed in the church.
Back in the early 2000’s my husband and I had started a painting business and that year for Christmas one of his sisters found an ornament that was perfect for the occasion. I have no idea where she found it, but it was perfect. It had the ladder, paint brushes, paint and rolls that looked like wallpaper. I always thought it was funny that she bought that for him when I was the one who done more of the painting than him. Since his death in 2008 I think I have continued the painting “tradition” as it seems every house I move into I have to add my “touch” by painting at least one wall.
In keeping with the “tradition”, each year that ornament gets put on the tree for me to admire, reminisce and reflect on all the homes that I have painted and the joy that some of them brought me as I transformed a house into a home, or a room into a sanctuary. Sometimes it’s the little things that mean so much.