This Old Barn


This old barn is all that’s left of my parents farm in Southeast Missouri.  I stopped by there today on my way to visit a sick friend in Arkansas.  My parent’s moved to the 52 acres of mostly wooded and hilly terrain in the early 1970’s.  We built this barn out of scrap lumber my dad had gotten from various places over the years. The small area of flat land near the highway was cleared by Dad and family and soon sprouted a small concrete block building that became known as the utility house.  It was one large room and it had a toilet in the corner (no bathroom or walls) and sink supplied by well water from the well next to the building.  When we went down there every other weekend we stayed in the utility house.   It wasn’t long before they purchased an older mobile home and had it moved to the site.  They moved into the mobile unit and it became their home.  The barn was the next building we built.  My dad wasn’t a carpenter by trade but knew how to do quite a few things.  It wasn’t necessarily the fanciest barn around but it served its purpose and has stood the test of time.  It’s a little tattered and torn but it’s still there. Other building popped up over the next few years.  A chicken house, a tool shed and of course an outhouse out back that Dad would rather use than to come into the house.  He was as close to heaven as he could get in this life for those 16–18 years. 

My mom, not so much.  My parents lived there until my dad died in 1990.  My mom sold the farm and moved to an apartment a little closer to St. Louis but still far enough away to avoid the big city.  After a couple years there she moved into a retirement community where she had her own nice little apartment.  She died in 1995.  They’re buried in a cemetery in Southeast Missouri under a great big tree.  Click the images to enlarge.

Thisoldbarn2 Thisoldbarn3 Grave1 Grave tree

It’s always nice to stop by and relive those memories.


16 thoughts on “This Old Barn”

  1. I really love this post. You’ve featured this barn before I remember. It makes me sad for both the loss of your parents and for the fact that the place no longer is in the family, but at the same time I love that it’s still there and you can go and see it and remember those times. To be able to put your hands on the past and say “I was here, my dad was here. We made this…” it’s a good and powerful thing.
    The barn, and the fact that it’s still standing after all these years, is a testament to your dad’s craftsmanship. You say he wasn’t a carpenter by trade, in which case I’d wager whatever his trade was he was damned good at it.

  2. Maffu beautifully put into words what I was feeling in my heart when I read this post. I can actually feel the connection and the love between you and your Dad every time you write about him and post a picture of this property. A barn built by hand, from scrap lumber, by someone who wasn’t a carpenter, yet four decades later it stands…weathered but still looking strong. It’s obvious from your writings that he was a good and honorable man. Thank you for sharing him with us again.

  3. I envy your childhood as I wanted to live in the country. I do now but no barn yet I have some livestock pets. Country living is great as I’d so hate to live so close to neighbors again.

    • I didn’t live there but we went down there about every other weekend when my kids were little. I think it was a good experience for them and it was fun for us too.

      I was a city boy my whole life. Not sure I could live in the country.

  4. Can’t comment right now. Happy tears are flowing down me face at Your Memories, Maffu and DJ’s comments. AND THAT is why I LOVES YOU ALL. <3 I'm seriously sniffling. <3

  5. Reminds me of my family fun property. Its in PA near Pymatuning lake, my parents bought it in 1971, we cleaned up the woods, put in a driveway, only cut down one tree, worked around the rest, took the Airstream up there every summer, rode trail bikes, cooked over the fire. My parents are now older and although they’re not destitute, I knew they could benefit from getting the money out of that property. I also knew they knew how special it was in my life and were planning on willing it to me some day. Much to their chagrin, I told them the property didn’t mean much to me, so put it on the market. They did their research, and came up with the price. I helped my dad cut the grass/weeds “one last time” and helped him put the sign near the road. The next morning, I star 67’nd my cell phone(this hides the number from caller ID), disguised my voice and called about the property, asked the usual questions, then asked the price, when my mom told me the price, I went back to my normal voice and said, I’ll take it mom. She asked why the shenannigans? I said I needed them to get to a place where they could let it go, and I didn’t want it at a ridiculously devalued price. I gave them cash over the next 6 months, and as long as I draw breath, that piece of my childhood with my family will stay in the family.

  6. Thank you for the story and the photos.

    I really like that first photo. The mournful beauty of a derelect building against the leaf-less trees of late fall. I’m not sure how much snow they see in southeast Missouri, but I’d love to see that same photo after two or three inches of the white stuff.

  7. Wonderful story Bode. The place sounds so much like my parents place. We also put in the driveway. At first we built a wooden bridge to cross the gully next to the road. After 7 or 8 years it had deteriorated so much that they decided to put a horn (giant tube) in the gully and gravel over it. We cut down very few trees also. More trees came down years later by the new owners.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Oh, we also had trails through the woods that we made for riding our 3-wheelers. That was before 4-wheelers were around. We named various places on the property.. like green rock valley which had moss covering most of the rocks there.

  8. I remember that barn like I was there yesterday….everything from the racks of potatoes stacked in there to old “Rusty” that was parked, most of the way in the right door. Oh and the hundreds of mud dobber nests all over the inside of the roof. I even attempted to deer hunt from the roof of that barn a couple of times. Great pics!!!

    • You were about 4 or 5 when we built that. I still love that picture of you sitting on the stack of lumber which I think was used to build the utility house roof.

      An Rusty… I forgot about him. Rusty was a very old and rusty tractor that Dad loved to drive around the farm for various chores. I don’t recall him ever using it for tilling the ground but he may have. We’d hook a trailer on the back and hall the kids all around the hilly terrain.

      • I don’t remember ever being in the barn… 🙁
        But I do remember lots of fun times in the trailer and the utility house, with Gramma Chick Chick. Playing cards, playing songs on the rinky-dink organ, the big green bread flat rack she kept behind the couch to play solitaire on… dried out mac & cheese from sitting in a warm oven all day!! haha! Those were the good old days 🙂

  9. Thanks for sharing Jonco and Bode. In my mind, I can see these places and know your happiness and joy. It’s so hard to let these places go physically. Bode I loved how you were able to purchase the family land for a current price. Thanks for the wonderful pictures Jonco.

  10. I love old barns. They are so picturesque. And the stories they could tell.

    I once had a thought of buying the wood from these things from the interior of British Columbia and planing that old grey weathered wood to make tables, etc.

    Alas, another dream not fulfilled.

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