Pulling into the barnyard on a recent visit, my parents found my Grandpa up on his roof. He was up there with a bucket of tar, fixing a leak. Never one to ask for help when he could do it himself, he had leaned out a second story window and affixed a hook to the roof, tied a rope onto it, and then tied a ladder to the rope. Somehow he also worked a small stool into the engineering and when all was said and done everything was tied down so he couldn’t fall very far even if he lost his balance and slipped. That’s my Grandpa!
I think I could start an entire blog dedicated to my Grandpa Omanson and his farm and probably never run out of stories to post.
At 91, he’s not the feeble old man you might expect of someone his age. He lives in Osceola, IL–a wide spot on the road about 50 miles north of Peoria. I don’t know if the road has a name or not. I suppose it does, though I wasn’t able to find his house on my GPS when I visited last. Grandpa, like the others in Osceola, just calls it “the hard road.” “Hard,” of course, because it is paved, unlike many of the roads around there. He doesn’t have an address, either. If you want to send him a letter, you send it to Roland Omanson, Rural Route #1, and it just gets to him. I guess there, the postal carriers know where everyone lives.
Though 6 more digits have been prefixed since he was a boy, the last 4 digits of his phone number are still the original numbers of the party-line his family shared with their neighbors. Party lines, as you may recall, were shared by several households who picked up only when they heard their distinctive ring (or when they wanted to be nosy!)
Osceola, home to perhaps 10 or 12 houses and maybe two dozen people, has a cemetery and a fire truck and that’s about it. There’s a stone marker where the Baptist church used to be, but the church has been gone for several decades. A couple of guys have wood shops, but the main economic activity of the greater Osceola area is farming. (more…)