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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



In the never ending, or so it seems, job of resurrecting “this old Dexter house” I’ve finally made it to the stage where the game room/office is ready for the touches that make a home a home.

All decked out in cardinal and gold in a reverse chair rail, the kids did an outstanding job with the paint and it is certainly enough to make any long-time Cyclone fan beam with joy and pride. After careful planning the kids and I decided that part of the room would be my office, part of the room would house a giant train layout and one small area would be reserved for the air hockey table.

This past weekend after a long and intensive search for the Ziploc bag marked “air-hockey bolts” we drug out the table, bolted the legs on and Paige lovingly wiped the entire thing down with a wet washcloth (oh come on…it’s not like any self respecting bachelor type would use a washcloth to actually bathe…heck no, we use them as God has intended…as shop towels). Soon enough the sounds of plastic hitting plastic was echoing throughout the house, and it brought to mind just how unexcited I was about the first time the kids had the table set up. I almost for a split second wondered if indeed I couldn’t cram the table into Max’s small bedroom, but then decided maybe not being able to hear the television over the sound of the smacking puck was better than having it greet me at some ungodly hour on a Saturday morning.

After a little help moving the filing cabinet filled with all sorts of old loose sheets of paper and photos it was time to start hanging things on the wall. I’ve always felt that a bare wall is a lonely wall so in my quest to bring a sense of purpose to that room we dug through boxes and started hanging treasures bit by bit. There is one entire wall devoted to all things railroad and one wall that reminds me of my high school days. Yet another wall, the area around my “office space”, is the wall I’m most proud of and enjoying decorating the most. It is slowly starting to be filled with memories of the family and the farm. There’s the mailbox signs that hung on both my Great Grandparents and my Grandparents farm. Around them I’ve started to hang pictures of the farm, the required number of “cow” pictures, and just last night digging through a box I found a great picture of Grandpa and Grandma Weesner standing in front of the chicken house with an entire wire basket full of eggs that will find a permanent home on the wall. There is room for my FFA stuff, although somewhere along the way of moving and storage and moving and moving yet again, I’ve misplaced a plaque which is bothering me a little. There is the large Pionneer Seed corn sign that I rescued from the garage at the farm, one so unusual that I’ve never seen another one like it, and I’ve even saved space for the sign that I found above the kitchen roof…as soon as the weather is nice enough for me to remove the rest of the tar from it.

I’m amazed at details in those old photos that I’ve never noticed before. The way the barn looked, the mud puddles in the same place as the mud puddles in my days, and in one picture a sign…as you can tell I’m a sucker for old farm signs. A sign I’ve only seen in pictures, but over the years was lost to time. It hung on a post at the end of the driveway of Great Granddads place proudly proclaiming Aberdeen Angus, and listing his name at the bottom. I’ve searched for a reproduction of this sign and haven’t had a bit of luck, but it’s a magnificent picture so for now that will hang on the wall.

It was in looking back at these old pictures and remembering things from the farm that I found comfort in. Growing up on the farm was such a great time, although truth be told, when I look back now at pictures of the farm it makes me want to scold my elders a bit for how trashy the place looked considering there were three boys on the place… an endless supply of free labor. It isn’t the thought of what the place looked like, or even the familiar faces that stare back at me that I like the most in those old photos. It’s that in each one I can look back on a place that I knew well, a place that no matter where my travels takes me always feels like home, even if that home is no longer in the family. Our memories have a way of bringing that comfort to us. Oh sure, there were times when the farm wasn’t as much fun as I remembered, and looking back I’m sure my kids will look at the house they grew up in and think to themselves, “Geeze Dad, that place sure was a dump.” But that place… those places we look back upon are home to us, and provided us with the foundation to become who we are today. So as you read these columns, you can picture me sitting at my desk and pounding away on the keyboard surrounded in a sea of cardinal and gold, and being watched over by the memories of that small farm that keep me warm and safe.

See you next week….Remember, we’re all in this together.