Living in the country in an old two-story house was a dream that came true in 1973 for my husband Larry and me. The historic house located in Salem, Indiana, was an ideal setting for the antiques we were collecting and features a winding staircase, a bay window and a fireplace.
In 1972 we decided to take on the challenge of renovating the old house that had stood empty for nearly a decade. There were few contractors who would tackle any of the jobs we offered, so we did nearly all the work ourselves. It took a year working in our spare time to make enough repairs for the house to be livable. Even with all its flaws, we loved our old house and were pleased to be living in a small community to raise our children.
Our dream home was surrounded by fields and pastures that created a serene country setting. I could sit on my front porch and watch the neighbor’s wheat field as it waved in the wind, see the corn growing tall in the field around us, and hear the cattle bellowing in the distance. But that serenity was broken about twenty years later when Child Craft Industries built a facility for kiln drying lumber for their furniture manufacturing company in Salem.
Larry and I attended meetings prior to the construction of the facility to object to farmland directly across from our residential property being used for industrial purposes. Only one other neighbor attended to object, however, so the project continued based on the economic benefits the company would provide. Larry eventually went to work for Child Craft in 1994 in their maintenance department and at times was called to work at the location across the road from our home. That facility was later sold to Salem Hardwoods, and they have been good “neighbors” although it does create a steady amount of semi-trailer traffic.
Now 44 years later my country lifestyle has been permanently changed with a new Wal-Mart Supercenter and accompanying businesses and restaurants located just a quarter mile down the road. When I look out my den window at night I can see the stoplight flashing green and red. A strip mall is located on Jim Day Road, and an attractive new pediatrician’s office has opened on the corner lot next to Highway 56.
When Larry and I first moved to Salem there were three old homesteads in our area. A quarter mile to the east was the Helen Gill home which has recently been torn down, and a beautiful new two-story house was built for her daughter and son-in-law. A quarter mile to the west near the strip mall was the home of Jim and Marilyn Day. After 56 years they were bought out by a developer and have moved to their new home farther in the country. Their once stately homestead is now an empty lot, permanently changing my view of the western horizon.
My home is the last homestead—my fortress against the encroaching city. The forty acres around my house are now up for sale. As I sit on my front porch with the steady hum of cars and trucks rushing toward the bypass or into the city, I yearn for the tranquility I once enjoyed living here. And yet I know that the passing of four decades is bound to bring change. I’m learning to embrace those changes and enjoy having a Wal-Mart and restaurants just one minute from my home. I can see my dentist’s office located in the strip mall across the field, and the security lights at Salem Hardwoods provide a night light for my house.
I have been blessed with many years of pleasant memories living in my historic home and will continue to enjoy it while wondering what other changes will come.
Jane Clark is Co-Director of Writers Bloc and has been a member of the group since 2005. She is a retired advertising sales representative who enjoys writing memoirs, essays, poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in several regional and national publications, and her first novel True Allegiance was released earlier this year. In keeping with the tradition of other Writers Bloc members, Jane donated a copy of her novel to the Salem Public Library.