Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The House That Built Me 4

Our fourth home in our series of
"The House that Built Me"comes from
Karen (Cookie) DeGreve of Curds & Whey.

Karen says....
"I grew up in St. Joseph, MO, whose claim on the historical map is being the home of the Pony Express and the place where Jesse James met his end.
My parents purchased a house on Woodbine Road shortly after I was born, and at that time was considered “country living”. My father worked several jobs while my mom stayed home and filled our house with much love and many antiques. Our home was a haven and solace for all who entered. My mom could meet you at the door and in an instant you knew you were welcome in our home and that her love was genuine and true for you.
I often dream of my beloved childhood on Woodbine Road. Growing up, we never worried about leaving the doors unlocked or playing outside long after the sun went down. We had an acre of land that accompanied the house and that acre was the daily meeting place for every kid in the neighborhood. We grew up playing baseball, football, kickball, & hide-and-go-seek until our parents were hoarse from calling us to come in and get ready for bed.
My dad was so talented, he could build anything; he was so handy that he could fix any problem that arose. He built the fireplace on the south side of the house. My bedroom is in the top dormer that you see in this photo – it was a place that I always felt safe and secure.
Our lives were very simple and happy. On my wish list every birthday and Christmas, you would find - #1: A HORSE - and - #2: A COWGIRL OUTFIT like I saw in the “Monkey Ward” catalog. I never got either, but that didn’t stop me from asking for them!

We had many big apple trees that my girlfriends and I climbed daily. We would imagine it was the home where we lived together and various boughs of the trees became our kitchen, living room and bedrooms. My mom loved roses and planted beautiful rose gardens on 3 sides of the house. There was a white picket fence that lined the driveway and we walked the tight rope and learned to balance high wire acts with the greatest of ease as we mastered that picket fence!
Being the only girl & baby of the family, I suppose you could say I was a wee bit spoiled by dad. Some of my favorite memories are trailing behind him all day long and wherever he was, you would find me. I spent hours in his shop, watching him work on one project or another. He built stilts from wood and I loved the feeling of towering what felt like 10 feet above my brothers as I strutted on stilts around them. He built skateboards for me and my 2 older brothers, and in no time I was skating in circles on that front porch that seemed so much bigger when I was young.

We hosted many family gatherings at our home. My dad built onto the kitchen, doubling its size and also laid a brick patio out back. I still remember relatives dipping sweet tea from the huge crock on the back step or anxiously waiting for the ice cream maker to turn off, only to hear dad announce that it was time to “DIG IN”! Mind you, we kids didn’t notice most of that, as we were too busy picking cicada shells off the trees to scare each other with!

In 1966, life changed drastically for all of us. My mom, whom we loved and cherished, passed away days after my 12th birthday. My dad could not bear living in this home without her, so he sold it and moved us to another part of town. I always felt that a piece of my heart stayed behind in the move. After many years, I came back to St. Joe and made a point of driving by our home. I was thrilled to see that it had been turned into an antique shop. Even to this day I am drawn to that house and each time I find it open for business, I go inside and walk the rooms, reliving the first 11 most wonderful years of my life. And sometimes when I listen close, I still hear the whippoorwills calling to each other just like I remember them doing in the early morning hours of my childhood on Woodbine Road."

Thank you Karen for sharing with us the house that built you!


  1. Such a beautiful story of your life but heartbreaking. Blessings!

  2. Wow, that was beautiful, I would have to say Karen is exactly who this song was written for. By the end I was a little teary eyed..God Bless

    Thank each and everyone of you for sharing your stories.

  3. Love is the Thread that Binds. The love of your family transends into the love you have for your childhood homestead. Leaving does not take that love away, only makes the heart grow fonder and the memories more vivid. Beautiful story, beautiful home. So glad you are able to visit now and then. The new care takers have preserved your house because they feel the love also.
    Prim Blessings from Missouri

  4. what a beautiful and touching walk through your home and early childhood Sugar Cookie!
    Thanks for sharing that with all of us :)

  5. Cookie,

    What a heartwarming, bittersweet story of your childhood. When children were allowed to be children and playing outside getting the fresh air.

    That is nice that you can walk into your old home since it is now an antique store !

    Thank you for sharing.


  6. Losing your mom at such a young age must have been devastating. I'm so sorry that happened to you! :( The part "living in the tree" hits home for me. Love the whimsy in the thoughts of those moments.

    Thanks for sharing, Cook! Big hugs.. xox

  7. Beautiful story...it sounds much like my life as a child although we lived on a large 300 acre farm.
    Life was so much simpler back then..times with famly were plenty and friends to share our memories were abundant..oh how I miss those quiet simple days!

    Thanks for sharing!!


  8. Cookie, thank you for sharing your story. Love reading about the stilts! Would of loved to have known you back then as a child too.

  9. Cookie, What wonderful memories you have of that home. Oh that we could really go back just for one day and be those kids again. Thanks for sharing.

  10. When Pam brought this idea to our group, the thought of writing my thoughts and memories of growing up on Woodbine Road brought a lump in my throat. I forgot so many things until I started writing - and the memories came flooding back. I hadn't heard this song or listened to the words until I began reading the wonderful stories from everyone. I think maybe the author who composed it could have been my neighbor on Woodbine Road! ♥
    Thanks to Pammie, for this wonderful opportunity and thank you all for letting me share with you -it was a privilege to share a part of my life I hold so dear.

  11. Oh Cookie, i just want to hug you. What a beautiful story :)

  12. I remember playing in that house with you. Every time I drive by I think of you. I have stopped in several times to browse the antiques, but I spend more time reminiscing about the past. I can still feel the love of your family lingering there.

  13. Your story is so like mine. Brought back many memories. Thanks for sharing:)


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