Past can continue
to serve the present
by Delbert Trew
doubt time marches on with progress as inevitable as tomorrow's sunrise.
This seems to be more evident in the rural areas as our small towns
and older communities slowly disappear or change identities.
From time to time, Ruth and I note where favorite old houses or barns
we have passed by and admired for years, are torn down, bulldozed
into a pit and covered. We know that many families have lived within
those walls for many years. We also know from experience most of these
places could still be serving their owners if they had been kept in
It would be extremely interesting to know how and why the priorities
changed during initial construction, remodeling changes down through
the years and final demolition. Were the reasons financial, occupational,
personal preferences or merely tax relief?
I know of three places on our ranch where depressions in the soil
designate the location of an old dirt cellar. This structure means
that at some time or another people lived nearby, using it for shelter,
storage and protection. What a story these old cellars could tell
if they could talk.
Our ranch home dates back to 1918 when a young man built two rooms
for his new bride-to-be. When his betrothed left to marry another
man, he sold the house to his brother and volunteered for service
in Word War I. The brother added two more rooms and a cellar for his
In 1920, a nearby rancher purchased the property and used it as a
cow camp for one of his employees. He also added a front and back
porch along with a peaked roof of wooden shingles. A good cattle price
two years later allowed building a bunkhouse, wagon sheds, salt house,
feed storage and horse barns across the north side of the corrals.
My family purchased the ranch in 1949, making repairs, painting the
house and outbuildings and adding a large water storage tank. In 1952,
I remodeled the house for my parents, adding a second bath, bedroom,
garage and enclosing the cellar entrance into the garage. We also
removed the old peaked roof, replacing it with roof trusses and asphalt
shingles then had Perma-Stone added to the outside walls.
In 1980, Ruth and I moved into the house, remodeling certain areas
and adding a large carport and patio on the south. Later, we enclosed
the front porch and placed white tin on the roof and all other out-buildings
along with two new coats of paint.
For eighty-seven years, our home has served countless families through
hard times and good, through tragedy and birth, for old and new owners,
in every kind of weather including blizzards and tornados, yet still
stands today in better condition than ever before.
When compared with photographs taken in 1949, our home place is unrecognizable.
Back then there were only two small trees. Today the building are
completely hidden by a beautiful grove of huge trees and shrubs. The
home is proof the past does not have to be destroyed but can be preserved
and continue to serve.
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" >
August 21, 2006 Column
More Texas Homes