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Grampa France, 
Michigan Center
A Memoir By the Late Earl T. Steiner - 2 June 1997

Click to see Beginning and A Life's Resume

When I first remember my France grandparents, Presley Twining "P.T." and Mary Iona (Robinson) France, they lived in Michigan Center, Mich. The house was in the northeast corner where Hill Road formed a "T" with Page Avenue. I do not remember the house at all.

Both of the roads were gravel and Hill Road was fairly steep. When it was dry in the summer, the gravel in the road would get very loose. We had to get a good running start to get to Uncle Lynn's place which was the next place up the hill. At that time, all he had was a garage but the garage had a pit in it. The pit was a hole you could pull the car over to work on it. The only pits I know of today are in fast oil change places.

[The house is seen here circa 1997, long after it had been sold out of the family.]

Grampa's barn was part way up the hill towards Uncle Lynn's place. It was a bank barn and not very big. The lower part had stalls for his horses and cows. Grampa always had Guernsey cows and they had cream that resulted in orange butter. Grandmother made butter for home use and for sale. I do not remember her ever selling the milk. Grampa had a team of white horses with gray dappling. They were big and gentle creatures. When he would walk through the pasture, they followed him like pet dogs. From their coloring, I suspect that they were percheron.

The next floor up was level with the road and was used as a garage for Grampa's Model T Ford. As far as I know he drove only one car besides Model T Fords and that was a Model A Ford. There was always a smell of gasoline in this area. Above the garage floor was the hay mow. From the hay mow was a chute down to the bottom floor. hay was formed to the livestock that way. My cousins liked to build a pile of hay at the bottom and jump from the mow into the hay. I was scared to do this, but once in a while would get talked into it. The mow was not very big, so there were haystacks in the field next to the barn.

There was a faded red chicken coop northeast from the house. Grandmother always kept Rhode Island Red chickens. These intrigued me as I did not see them elsewhere. West of the chicken house was the necessary building, the outside toilet. Part of the door had been damaged and feed sacks were tacked over the damage.

Where you pulled from Hill Road into the barnyard, there stood an old gasoline pump. The hose had rotted. Next to the pump was a large wooden box with pigeon holes in it. I have often wondered how these came to be there. The drive itself was in a curve and exited again next to the barn.

The only thing I remember about the house was setting  at the dining room table. There was a wooden box place on a chair to make me high enough to eat. I could look out south and watch the New York Central trains climb slowly est. I don't remember any going west but they would be going down hill and mostly coasting. They did not make much noise.

[Editor's note: Earl T. Steiner passed away on June 22, 2010, in Piqua, OH.]

Copyright 1997 Earl T. Steiner

Published with permission of the author. All rights reserved.