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Their Chimney

I cut my teeth writing on Hubpages back in 2009. I've written 17 novels, numerous songs, and short stories since. I love to write love.

The Old Windmill

their-chimney

The Abandoned Farm

The old tin blade wobbling windmill squeaked for about one second with each turn. Grease had leaked out of the seal and the leather plunger in the well pump was rotted away ages ago and the rod clanged inside the faucet. Grass weeds and briars had nearly covered the gravel driveway along with a few mulberry saplings. The pond was covered in moss and an old upside-down wooden flat bottom boat was half sunk and occupied by three snapping turtles sunning themselves.

The barn, chicken coop, and hog house were mostly caved in and covered with morning glories and other weeds. Jacob Harnes unfastened his seatbelt and thought of the time he'd released a deer caught in the North fence by the woods. He looked at the scar on his hand where the barbed wire had wounded him as he struggled to free the animal.

Jacob looked over at his 13-year-old daughter, Ginny, and said, "I haven't been back here in forever. I was your age when we left Illinois." Ginny giggled and said, "Wow dad. This place looks really, really old." Jacob smiled and said, "The house was built in 1899. Your Great, Great Grandparents built the house." The roof of the old frame farmhouse had also caved in on the right side where Jacob's bedroom was when he visited his Grandparents. The rest of the house was standing but all windows were broken and doors had been removed.

As Jacob and Ginny got out of the van, Jacob said, "See all these weeds and briars?" Ginny answered, "Yes." He said, "That's why I told your mother to have you dress in jeans and boots for our weekend." Ginny rolled her eyes, grinned, and said, "I know Dad, Mom already told me." Jacob pointed up at the windmill and said, "Grandpa used to have me climb up there and put grease in the gearbox." Ginny said, "Wow...can I climb it?"

Jacob laughed and said, "No way Mrs. Adventurous. I am sure some of those rusty braces are about to break. I'm surprised it's still standing." They walked toward the house and Jacob told Ginny to watch her step and test the porch boards and floors as she walked on them." As they eased on the porch steps, they could feel the boards give but were still strong enough to hold them.

Jacob looked down, grinned, and said, "These boards were cut from oak trees. Grandpa had made a sawmill that was powered by his McCormick tractor. He let me help once. It was the hardest work I've ever done."

Old Stove

their-chimney

The Accident

Ginny laughed and said, "And you did it uphill both ways, huh dad?" Jacob smirked, yanked her Yankees ball cap down, and said, "I forgot, it was the second hardest work...you get number one dear daughter." She giggled, cocked her head back, and said, "Dad that hurts my eyebrows." They both laughed as they gently stepped into the foyer. Jacob went left into the kitchen and was amazed that the sink and coal-burning stove were still there. Plaster had fallen on them from the deteriorating walls.

Ginny peeked in the kitchen but went into the living room on the other side of the foyer. Jacob stood and enjoyed memories of his Grandmother cooking and his Grandfather complaining about the weather and the prices of everything. Ginny walked across creaking boards and fallen plaster to the large fireplace that took up nearly a third of the large room wall. There was an iron arm with a hook on a chain protruding from within. The mantle was an eight-foot solid oak log. She noticed carvings on the mantle. She wiped some thick dust and old cobwebs off with her hand and then blew the remainder away and sneezed. Ginny shouted to Jacob, "Dad...who is Arnold and Geneva?"

Jacob came into the room smiling and answered, "They are your Great, Great Grandparents." Ginny pointed to the carving in the wood and read aloud, "Arnold loves Geneva, 1909." There were also carvings of trees, animals, birds, clouds, and hills. Jacob smiled and said, "There's a wonderful old story about this fireplace, actually the chimney of this fireplace. Jacob leaned against the mantle as Ginny sat on the stone hearth and listened to the story.

Jacob said, "19-year-old Arnold Harnes had told 15-year-old Geneva Ellison that he would marry her as soon as he finished building a home for them. She patiently waited all spring and summer. She would often visit here and bring Arnold food for lunches and suppers. He worked so hard with mules, handsaws, axes, and got free bricks from a local train wreck. Three cars had overturned from a washout and dumped loads of red bricks on a nearby hillside. He worked from sunup to sundown."

Ginny asked, "Why didn't she help him build the house?" Jacob answered, "It was just different times. He was stubborn and she was letting him be stubborn. Grandpa told me that his Grandpa Arnold always said, "A man does what a man does and a woman does what a man don't." Jacob smiled and went on, "Arnold fell off the roof in mid-October of 1899. He busted a couple of ribs and sprained his ankle badly. He was working on finishing the outside part of the chimney and was about halfway finished."

The Chimney

their-chimney

Patience

Jacob continued, "I was told that Geneva came by on a Sunday. Arnold told her that it would be the next spring before he could finish the house and get married." Ginny's eyes opened wide as she said, "Wow...Grandma Geneva had a lot of patience."

Jacob grinned and said, "Well, not really. The family tale goes that Geneva shook her finger at Arnold and told him that she was going to finish that chimney, he was going to heal and they were going to be married in November. The carvings you see on this mantle is what Arnold did while Geneva climbed on the scaffolding and finished the chimney." Ginny asked, "Did they get married in November?" Jacob laughed and answered, "Yes. They were married on November 30th, 1899. The 1909 date and names was what he carved for their tenth anniversary.

Ginny smiled and said, "I'm glad they got married." Jacob grinned and said, "Me too. We might not be here if Geneva had let Arnold wait till spring." Jacob and Ginny wanted to go upstairs but the stairway was severely broken down from the leaking roof. They stepped back out on the porch as Jacob told Ginny he was sending men to the farm to remove the fireplace mantel. He was going to have it placed in their new home he was building in Poughkeepsie New York.

They walked around the property and Jacob told Ginny stories of his time visiting there as a boy. The squeaking clanking windmill and the singing birds made Ginny feel a little enchanted. She was there on the land where her Grandmothers and Grandfathers spent much of their lives.

As they walked back by the house, Ginny looked up at the red brick chimney that rose slightly above the rooftop. She smiled, and said, "Grandma Geneva sure did a good job. She did what Grandpa didn't."

Arnold and Geneva, November 30th, 1899

their-chimney

© 2022 Tom Cornett

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