April 2006

Home is Never Good-Bye

Briana Spiker

A fascinating description of daily life at the Spiker farm as remembered by Briana Spiker.

I was the youngest of Brad and Alice Spiker’s four children. As such, this position had its advantages and its disadvantages. One of the advantages was that from the first grade on, our family would spend the school months in an apartment in Pennsboro, and our summer months at the farm.

Mom and Co. would always clean the farm house top to bottom with plenty of bleach. The winter occupants were mice, bats, and co. and the summer occupants were the Spiker clan. We would clean the kitchen cabinets, appliances, dishes, and dresser drawers (with mice nests and other evidence.) Clean, clean, clean. There was no TV so I would read books on the front porch and on the couch in the living room, walk with my dad to the Buckner place to alt the cows on the rocks, and play with the snakes and crawdads in the creek. I swam in the river with my shoes on as mom knew there was glass in the river and I’d cut my foot. However, mom also kept bars of soap in the pillows to keep them fresh and us kids were always cracking our heads on the blasted things. And Mom also kept the matches in glass jars with lids so the mice wouldn’t get ahold of them. The story was there was a house fire started by mice getting hold of matches. We still laugh about that. On Sundays, we went to South Fork Baptist Church where I had wonderful Sunday School teachers such as Mrs. Zinn and Mrs. Haught. On our birthday we placed a penny for each year in a bank. That was a special feeling.

We heard and told stories. We talked about the 50’s flood. Grandma and Marjory had tied themselves together and went to the second floor. By the bathroom there was a big tree with its limb reaching toward the house. If the house went, they would try the tree. The water almost completely filled the first floor. In 2003, there was another flood which filled the first floor with four feet of water. The Spiker siblings and family were there. The house was emptied and Mike threw his heart and soul into refurbishing the house. It looks GOOD.

Other stories were when the river ran high, how dad jumped into the water from the swinging bridge and almost didn’t come back up. Aunt Jean picking up the big black snake and as it wrapped itself around her arm, carrying it into the side room by the kitchen, and DELIBERATELY scaring the bajeebees out of dad who was peacefully sleeping on the couch. Of course, Aunt Jean was just getting back at dad as when Aunt Jean was born less than a year after him, he would in his toddler stage bite her. The biting stopped when Grandma Spiker bit him back. Dad also went looking for the doctor when Grandma Spiker was ready to deliver Uncle Bob. Dad didn’t make it back in time, but he tried.

Visitors would come to visit. Aunt Jean especially and the other Spiker siblings of that generation. Cousins would visit. Paula and Tom would visit for a week or more in the summer. Paula would come with her enormous suitcases filled with clothes inappropriate for the farm, but absolutely beautiful (I wore many of Paula’s hand-me-down in high school.) Tom hated to take a bath and would sit on the tub during bath time and not take a bath. (When the well water ran low, dad and the boys took their baths by the riverside.) Mom quickly picked up Tom’s avoidance as Tom somehow never really was clean, except when Mom intervened he had to clean up. Tom also loved to annoy Paula with insects, and one time took a hefty swat from her on one of our walks when he was “bugging her.” One summer, some of us cousins were sitting in the pink bedroom upstairs when lightning hit the wall beside us leaving a small mark. Needless to say, we were “shocked.”

Life stands still and yet keeps moving. Now we are the Uncle Brad and Aunt Alice, Aunt Jean and Uncle Ed generation. For each family unit may have different names, as we are a new generation. We meet every year on Memorial Day weekend Sunday to have our family reunion. It is a wonderful extended family crossing generation, the country, and time. For after all, for our family, the Spiker home place will always be a place where “Home is never goodbye, but a constant HELLO.”