Can You Go Home Again?

Bedford signWe’re about to find out.

Tomorrow, I’ll be flying to Indiana for what may be the last time.  I’m surprisingly not sad.  But that may change.

This time tomorrow, I’ll be at the house I grew up in … a massive, 6000 square foot limestone edifice on a prominent corner in a small Midwestern town.  Everyone is from somewhere, and I’m from Bedford, Indiana.  My family has lived in that town for several generations, on both sides.  The Pattons and Rays (Dad’s side) for longer than I’m aware of.  Mom recently went down to a cemetery in Sinking Spring to find some old graves.  I’ve written about my paternal grandfather before … the fireman on the Monon Railroad.

The Fursts were part of the local gentry.  Carl Furst, my great-grandfather, founded The Carl Furst Stone Company, which had quarries to the north just outside Bloomington.   He’d immigrated from Germany, and from what I’m told, Carl and Louisa never lost their accents.  Mom tells a story about Carl sitting down at his drawing board to design the mausoleum with the words “I chust design my new office”.  He was a skilled artist and draftsman, if the charcoal drawings hanging on my wall are any indication.

The house I’ll be in tomorrow night was built by Carl in 1901.   An impressive and imposing American Foursquare.  3 finished floors, plus the basement.  The servants lived in the attic, an open space with beautiful hardwood floors and gamboled ceiling.  I’m not certain what transaction brought the house from my great-grandparents to my great aunt Tusnelda, but she remuddled the place.  It had originally been built with an open grand entrance that opened up into the formal sitting room … but Tutti closed that all in to create a long entry hall.  A grand staircase comes immediately off the front hall to the upstairs, where there are 4 bedrooms.  On the fist floor, the hallway opens into a formal living room.  To the left is a huge bathroom (which used to be Carl’s office … thanks Tutes), and the formal sitting room.  Yes, they’re different.

The dining room is separated from the living room by only a false partial wall, and the dining room flows into the kitchen.  On the back, the back porch was enclosed to make a family room, where we all sat to watch TV.  Outside, a massive limestone wrap-around front porch was adorned with turned limestone blustarades supporting the railing … and massive turned limestone columns support the porch roof.   I’m looking forward to posting some pictures of the place.  I have some around somewhere, but they’re on some disk I can’t find, so I’ll be sure to take plenty.

Anyway, the house has been the Furst / Patton house for over 100 years.  And now, it has to be sold.

Mom’s moving down here.  The reasons are many, and good.  She’s 80, she lives alone in 3 rooms of that great big house.  A steep stairway in the back leading down to the back yard and driveway is treacherous in the winter time for anyone … let alone an octogenarian.  So, it’s time for her to move down here.  Both my sister Busy and I are here, and she needs to be nearer family, and there’s nothing for us to do in the little town of Bedford … and I wouldn’t give up the beach in any case.

But it’s sad.  I’m going back for probably the last time to the house I grew up in.  I haven’t lived there since 1986, I think.  I’ve barely been back there in the last 10.   But nobody wants to see the house they grew up in sold … and particularly not one that’s been in the family for over 100 years.  But the reality of the situation is that the taxes are confiscatory on that big old house, and the gas bills are huge even on the budget plan.  It has a gas fired boiler that circulates hot water through radiators.  It’s big and drafty and the limestone construction I think provides most of the insulation.

Who ever buys that house is going to love it.  I don’t know if I’ll ever see it though, once they’ve had a chance to do what ever they’re going to do.  I don’t know that I want to.

I’ll see my cousin John and his wife Jane, but unfortunately not his brother Bob.  I don’t know when I’ll see those guys again either.

So, back to Indiana we go tomorrow.  I’m a Floridian now.  I love the Hoosier state.  It’s beautiful.  I love the rolling hills and stone and small towns and colors in the fall.

But it’s not home any more.  The last time there was an ocean in Indiana was several million years ago … according to the fossils.  And Mom needs a smaller house.  You can go home again … but not to stay.  I’ll be back Tuesday night … but the laptop is going with me, so the blogging will continue.




Filed under Heritage, Indiana, Nostalgia, Thoughts, Travel

2 responses to “Can You Go Home Again?

  1. I live in Bedford, and you’re right: there’s really not much to do here. However, if you’re a blogger, there’s always something to do online, as I’m sure you’ve discovered. Of course, since you live by the beach now, you wouldn’t need that “world” as much as I do!

    How lovely to find another Hoosier – even a former one – and I’ve put your blog in my Google Reader.

  2. liz

    I agree. You can never go home again, but here I am. I came back to take care of my mom who is ill and unfortunately my husband found the job of his dreams in the IT field which was non existent in Kansas. My mom is realizing that we all drifted and and that it’s impossible to come back. Her family (brothers and sisters) are gone.. I pray she can find peace from this point on. I am homesick for Kansas..

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