David E. Larsen, DVM
To call it the Broadbent house was a little misleading. It was just an old farmhouse. Located a couple of miles above Broadbent on a small farm that dated from the early 1900s. Broadbent was more of a place than a town, even in 1950. Broadbent was about five miles from the small city of Myrtle Point.
This house was unpainted, the siding weathered to a steel gray like most barns in the area. The siding was made of one by twelves that ran vertically, the entire length of the two stories. These one by twelves were lapped with one by fours. A porch ran the whole length of the house on both the front and back.
Interestingly, the front door, and the front porch, was rarely used. Life revolved around the kitchen, and the kitchen door opened onto the back porch. We came and went through the back door. Of all things from my childhood, using the back door, the kitchen door, as the main door in the house, is something that we still do to this day.
During the warm summer days, when the upstairs bedrooms were too warm. My brothers and I would use the front porch as a sleeping area. We had an old metal bed with an old, thin mattress on it, and two or three of us would sleep there, most of July and August. We would fall asleep watching shooting stars and the Milky Way.
We moved to this farm in January 1950. I was 4 years old at the time. That January, we had nearly 2 feet of snow. Nobody was happy about the snow. But we explored the hill country, snow or no snow.
There were several outbuildings associated with this house. On one end of the backyard were a combination garage and woodshed. These were connected to the house by a plank walkway.
The other end of the backyard was framed with a building that served as a root cellar and pantry. Both of these buildings were of the same construction as the house. Both unpainted, and all the buildings had a shake roof.
The outhouse was located off the far end of the garage. There was a long plank walkway to it. I have limited memory of using the outhouse, but one night is etched in my mind. My older brother was afraid to make the trip a late night in February. I was assigned the task of accompanying him to the outhouse. Standing in the cold, holding a flashlight while he accomplished his business, is not one of my fondest memories.
Straight out from the kitchen, completing the enclosure of the backyard, was a massive cherry tree. Mom’s garden was located behind the cherry tree. This garden, provide produce and staples for the family for the coming year. My mother could never understand how people could survive without a garden.
Beyond the fields was the hill country. For a group of young boys, this country became a vast playground. It also became my first classroom. I learned more about nature, animals, life, and death in this classroom than from any school. Some lessons I learned on my own, many were taught by my oldest brother.
The creek was also beyond the fields. We fished this creek almost daily in the spring. Fishing was only interrupted by the school, and many Fridays were sick days for me. I had to stay in the house until noon, then I could go fishing. Those Fridays were more productive than any classroom hours.
In the kitchen were the range and counters with the kitchen sink situated, so Mom viewed the backyard, the garden, the fields, and hills beyond. This view was framed by Robins Butte and Neil Mountain in the far distance.
Also in the kitchen was the woodstove. This was the only heat source in the house. In the winter months, there was always a fire roaring in the stove.
Behind the stove was a bathroom that would shortly become the home of our new indoor toilet, sink, and bathtub. Mom and Dad’s bedroom door opened off the back wall of the kitchen. The dining room was to the right of the kitchen as you entered from the outside. The living room was through a doorway off the back wall of the dining room. The living room was the coldest of the downstairs rooms. We would later make the door larger and build a fireplace in the living room.
Upstairs were two bedrooms, one on each side of the stairs. My sister had the room over the folk’s bedroom, and us three boys had the one over the living room and dining room. There were no doors upstairs. The stairway was accessed either through Mom and Dad’s bedroom or from the living room.
The upstairs bedrooms were very cold in the wintertime. I would wake up and blow a large breath of air out from under the covers. How much fog was formed from that breath told you how cold it was in the room. I would jump out of bed and run as fast as I could, down the stairs and through Mom and Dad’s bedroom to the kitchen. The heat from the fire was very welcome.
The first summer we were there, they put plumbing into the house. Uncle Dez from California came up to do most of the plumbing. Dad and the local uncles, Dutch, Duke, Toad, and Robert, did the digging for the septic tank and drain field. It was a pretty simple installation by today’s standards.
Also, it was during the first year that Ernie Bryant built a plank road along the line fence to a little sawmill up the creek. I have spoken of the plank road before.
A couple of years later, I think my 3rd-grade year, the neighboring farm built a house just across the line fence. This was the first time we had neighbors who we could see from the house.
In later years I had friends who lived up the river. It was about six miles to their house by going on the highway, but by going up the plank road and then over Neal Mountain, it was half that distance. And it was a lot more fun by the Neal Mountain route.
We fished, daily at times, hunted and trapped any time after the chores were done.
Today, I still enjoy having neighbors who you can just barely see from the house. I have lived inside the city limits only during my Army and school years. We seldom, if ever, use our front door. And of all things, I like to fish best of all.
One thought on “The Broadbent House”
That is a beautiful accounting of growing up in another time. Falling asleep watching shooting stars and the Milky Way I think is something most kids don’t get to experience these days.
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