136. The Mail Came Bringing Me Old Photos…

Not much exciting comes in the mail these days.

Yet hope springs eternal, and I always walk out to the mailbox with an anticipation that is rarely fulfilled.

Until yesterday — the mail came bringing me an unassuming envelope with a hand-written return address from Texas. I  knew immediately what it was and who it was from: my second cousin, Buzz, who visited last October had promised me some old photos of the cottage, taken when he was a boy visiting the farm.

Precious old sepia photographs spilled from the envelope. Carefully numbered, he had labeled each one with names and sometimes a date. The cottage is older than we thought.

Apple Hill Cottage, circa 1936

I wish I could tell what kind of flowers and shrubbery that is. When we first started work on this side of the house, I pulled out a sad looking, old-fashioned thorny white shrub — bridal veil I think it’s called. The pump is long gone, but the well is still there. Mr. H.C. is forever mad at his mom for selling that pump…

Buzz is hanging on to the pump handle, and that’s his older brother Jack next to him. This is circa 1936 or 37, and those are the kitchen windows we lovingly restored. The landscaping around the house makes me think that the cottage is at least a few years old when these photos were taken. That puts it considerably older than the early forties, which we had estimated.

Here’s a shot of what the windows looked like after Mr. H.C. put up the storm windows. You can tell the window on the right was not quite finished. I guess I should take another photo…

Kitchen windows from outside

I love the simple trim around these windows. If you look carefully at the old photos, you’ll notice all the windows were trimmed like this.

This is the front door of the cottage where the living room windows are now. There’s no way to bring back that charming little entrance with the lattice and the vines — at least in that spot. But I’m thinking on it…
buzz mariam mom

I especially love this photo because that’s my mom on the right with her cousins, Buzz and his older sister Mariam. I knew right away it was my mom, because, I have a photo of myself at that age, and oh my goodness, we could be twins. Mr. H.C. took one look at the photo and said, “That looks like you!” My Mother, My Self…
buzz Jack Mom
In this photo, if you look very hard, you can see the awning that is decorating the kitchen entrance. That’s Buzz, and his brother Jack in the wagon, and the little giant girl next to them is Mom. Mariam is in the background, and you can also tell that there aren’t many trees in the side or back yard yet, and the huge sycamore in the front yard is not yet planted.

Old folks at the cottage

That’s the old folks sitting out in the front yard by the road. The fence was gone by the time I was a girl and playing in the front yard. My grandma Carrie is on the left, then her mother Laura, sister Edna and her husband Jim (who I always heard was in the circus) and sister Ethel and her son Buzz are on the right. He dates this photo ’36 or ’37 also. It’s hard to tell where in the front yard this is, but again, there aren’t many trees…

So one of my secondary categories on this blog is 40s houses. I guess I’m going to have to change it to 30s houses.

Here is a painting that Joe and Clara had done of the house when they bought it in 1974, before they started renovating. Painting of Apple Hill Cottage, ca.1973

And here’s what it looks like today — still under construction. We haven’t really gotten to the outside of the house yet. But we hope to have the gray cedar shakes all painted white by the end of the summer, as well as replicating the trim around the front windows.

Oh yes, and siding over the Tyvek, and new gutters, and a repointed chimney, and… and… and...

Oh yes, and siding over the Tyvek, and new gutters, and a repointed chimney, and the sliding glass doors replaced… and… and…

But for now, there’s nothing like old photos to bring home the amazing circles of life.

15 thoughts on “136. The Mail Came Bringing Me Old Photos…

  1. Wow! What a great family history. I’m relieved to know that I am not the only old house owner with a long list of unfinished projects.


      • I have literally been working on my bathroom since 2001 when it was gutted to the studs and all of the supply plumbing and electrical replaced. Then in 2007 I had to open up a wall to replace the return plumbing. It had taken soooo long to get back to finishing the painting that I am going to start over with new colors of my own choice.


  2. What fun to open an envelope in the mail and get photos like these! Truly a treasure. Thanks for sharing them with us, along with the history. It would be fun to frame some of these and put them throughout your cottage so folks can enjoy them. :)


    • Well I have to send the originals back, but I’ve scanned them, and, amazingly enough, I took pictures of them with my iPhone. Those are the ones that look the best. We’ll see when I try to monkey with them a little bit.



    • Our educated guess is because the living room was very dark, and they were taking out a tiny room at the end of it so they wanted more light for a bigger space. They put in a seventies picture window, which really was the only natural light in that room. We took the picture window out and changed it back to windows more representative of the era, but we still haven’t figured out what to do with the sliding glass doors at the far end. (They used to be garage doors…and we’ve actually considered that…)

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