Outbuildings #6 – A House for an Auto

OutuildingsMost of the real work on the farm happened in the barn, in the fields, and in the house. Some of the outbuildings were so specific in purpose that they were often hastily erected and as quickly abandoned when seasons or activities changed. Others had longer lives and a bigger presence. They were spread out around the property in an almost haphazard way. A few of them I remember from childhood, but others I know only from photos.


A House for an Auto

In the spring of 1921 my grandfather Ellsworth began to think about getting a car and building a garage for it. I think of this “auto” looking like the one Uncle Wiggly, “The Bunny Rabbit Gentleman,” drove in my mother’s favorite childhood book, “Uncle Wiggly’s Auto Sled.”

From "Uncle Wiggly's Auto Sled," written by Howard R. Garis, Illustrated by Lang Campbell, 1920

From “Uncle Wiggly’s Auto Sled,” written by Howard R. Garis, Illustrated by Lang Campbell, 1920

My great-grandmother Lydia recorded the progress of the garage and the auto.

Saturday, March 12, 1921 – “Ellsworth…is thinking of building a house for an auto when he gets one. Children all have hard colds. Agnes and Emily have one. They are all sneezing in concert.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Wednesday, March 16, 1921 – “Man came to show Ellsworth a Buick automobile.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Thursday, March 17, 1921 – “Nice day. Men busy carting dirt getting ready to build a garage opposite the horse barn at the top of the hill.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Friday, March 25, 1921 – “Ellsworth has a new automobile – came today.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Saturday, April 9, 1921 – “Agnes went out to take her lesson in the automobile this afternoon with Mr. Beaumont for teacher. Will have to give her several lessons. Am afraid they will have an accident someday, but hope not.” – Lydia Jane Hall

I don’t think that my grandmother, who was a very good driver, ever did have an accident in any automobile on the farm. She did almost all the driving. Her big black car fit perfectly into the garage, and we loved being asked to go along on her errands. We followed her into the dark muskiness of the garage, climbed onto the big back seat where, unencumbered by seat belts, we bounced up and down as the car traversed the East Wallingford hills, hoping to be bouncing up when we hit a big bump so our heads would touch the car ceiling.

"A Shed for a Car," Carol Crump Bryner, pen and ink, 2013

“A Shed for a Car,” Carol Crump Bryner, pen and ink, 2013

See also Outbuildings #1, #2, #3, #4, #5

On Monday:  March Window

2 thoughts on “Outbuildings #6 – A House for an Auto

  1. Bonny Headley

    I love it that it was less than two weeks after the entry that Ellsworth was “thinking” about building a house for an auto “when he gets one” to the day the auto was delivered! I wonder if the reticence was the journal writer’s or Ellsworth’s. I am sure they could neither one have imagined what changes that machine would engender!

    I also recall the freedom of riding without seat belts, and how confining they once seemed. Now, I don’t feel secure behind the wheel unless I have mine on. Your blog is such a valuable reminder of the inevitability of change, and the example your ancestors set for accepting the changes as they come is worthy of emulation. They perhaps had a belief in Divine Providence that it more difficult to muster in this age, but the serenity that seeps from their letters and journals is remarkable.

    Thanks so much. I will miss these posts when the year is over, Carol. I am glad to have been witness to your year of family history investigations. I suppose every family has such stories, but few families have records like those you are working with, and such a generous chronicler to uncover and reveal them.

    1. Carol Post author

      Thanks so much, Bonny, for these kind words. I’ve also been so happy to have you as a loyal reader. It means alot to get your comments, which are always thoughtful and interesting.
      My oldest grandson cannot sit in a car – moving or not – without being buckled into his car seat. He says he feels so nervous when he’s unbelted. I wonder if we have lost that ability for serenity with all our concern for safety. Something interesting to think about.


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