Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mam-maw's House

"If I could just come in, I swear I'll leave
won't take nothing but a memory,
from the house that built me"

The very first moment I heard these words from the song "The House That Built Me" by Miranda Lambert, it struck something deep inside me! All of my childhood memories of my Mam-maw Eunice's house in Bastrop, La. came flooding over me like a wave! The words "I thought if I could touch this place or feel it, this brokeness inside might just start healing" bring tears to my eyes every time I hear them!

My dad's parents lived in a little two bedroom frame house on Riis St. There was a front porch that had a porch swing for many years. The fondest memories in my whole life seem to come from this house & porch! As far back as I can remember, I used to stay with Mam-maw & Pap-paw Masters for a while every summer. I can recall sitting in the living room on the floor watching President Kennedy's funeral procession on their black & white TV. I can remember being there the week that Robert Kennedy was assasinated. My grandmother used to watch As The World Turns every day and I can still remember the escapades of the Hughes family....Don, Penny, Bob, Nancy & Grandpa Hughes!

There was an attic fan in the house that would pull in the most wonderful breeze at night! I would always want to be in the bed right beside the window so I could feel those breezes but by morning, I would usually be freezing. Mam-maw would always be up early in the morning to fix breakfast for Pap-paw and she would always have me a cup of coffee ready filled with milk & sugar. Her biscuits & "thin" bacon gravy still make my mouth water just thinking about them.

Each morning after doing the daily "chores", I would usually meet up with a distant cousin who lived next to her grandmother on the street behind Mam-maw's house! Vicki was the same age as me and we had the most wonderful times during my visits with Mam-maw! We both had a bunch of Barbie dolls and would play for hours with them. We would still see each other each summer even into our early teens!

Mam-maw had a little storage house behind the "big" house that we loved to nose around in. There was an old iron bed with a mattress in this "little house" and it was always a treat if we got to spend the night in there. It was really just a storage room but when you are a kid, it held the most wonderful junk to be rummaged through. My pap-paw always had a garden in the back yard and I can still remember him digging up "Irish" potatoes and then later having them sliced & fried for breakfast!

I think the bathroom of Mam-maw's house had been added later than the rest of the house and you had to actually go onto the back porch to get to it! There was a claw foot bathtub with big high sides that was always a special treat to take a bath in. The only drawback of this bathroom was there was no air conditioning and by the time you actually got out, you were dripping with sweat!

To this day, my favorite time of day is the late afternoon, just before dusk. It was usually this time of day when we would always sit out on their porch, either to swing or just sit in the lawn chairs to talk & visit. There is not an afternoon that goes by even now that I don't think about all those times sitting on that porch.
I think the last time I ever spent a whole week with Mam-maw & Pap-paw was when I was about 16. I met a boy that was the nephew of my Aunt Gayle's husband. I was so taken with this boy and was in dire straits when I had to go back to Vidalia for school to start!

There are so many memories from this house that I can't begin to write them all down for fear this post would run on for pages, eventually ending up the size of War & Peace! My Pap-paw died in 1983 and was buried on my son Andrew's second birhday. My Mam-maw died in 1989 on my husband's birthday. Both of them died of heart attacks at this house, both very suddenly and unexpectedly! The house was eventually sold after Mam-maw's death and I can't tell you how many times I have ridden by there and longed to go up to the door and ask the people living there if I could just walk around or see the inside again. I guess this is why when I heard Miranda's song for the first time, my first thought was of the little gray shingled house at 1007 Riis St., Bastrop, La. It was most definitely "the house that built me". I love you both, Eunice & Malone Masters and not a day goes by that I don't think of you!


  1. I think of my special places every time that song comes on, too. Just before leaving for France I drove by Grandma and Grandpa's house (only about a mile from mine). I don't think I had been by since last winter. I was glad to see that this summer someone finally put a vegetable garden in the backyard, right where Grandpa always had one.

  2. Every time I even see a potato, I think of how Mamaw called all potatos, "arsh taters." Country for "Irish potatos."

    And taking baths there was definitely good and bad. That cool old tub was right next to a gas fired water heater that, if you closed the door, as most folks do when bathing, it would heat up to unbreathable heat in a matter of minutes. You were somewhat cleaner, but were drying off sweat as well as bathwater afterward.

    She had that old foot-operated Singer sewing machine on the little porch there by the bathroom door. I always had to stop and give the pedal a few pumps to make the machine move when I went through there.