Saturday, October 16, 2010

You Can Never Go Home

Last weekend Valerie, the kids and I took my mother on a nostalgia trip. We went to Giessow’s Cottage Farm. Giessow’s is a small village of cabins between Morse Mill and Ware Missouri. I spent a lot of my childhood there. So did my dad and his dad. Valerie and I went camping 2 weeks before and on our way home decided to look for the place. We started at Cedar Hill and drove to Morse Mill. I had gotten a little turned around thinking Morse Mill was Ware and we never did find it. I called my mom for help and we got into an argument about my memory. I said, “Okay, next week we’ll all go out there and find it!” She loved the idea.

In the 80s I took my girlfriend Joanie out there to find it. We did and it was as beautiful as I remembered. This time, just like then, we came to a small rock road with a bar across it. If we’d have blinked we would have missed it. Just like when I was with Joanie, my heart sank having gotten so close and just like then it had been left unlocked.

My son Dylan and I worked the bar open and I drove in. Memories began to flood my mind. The road was lined with a barbed wire fence. My mom said, “That ditch by the fence is where a momma pig was always feeding her babies.” I remembered it vividly.

The road wound up to the top of a hill and split off. The high road was called Tuxedo Junction because the rich folks lived up there. It’s where my Uncle, cousins and grandparents had cabins. I used to stay there with my grandmother. There was a huge deck that shot way out from the hill. The view of the Big River valley was spectacular.

We met a woman up there that told us we should find the current owner for information about changes the place had gone through.

There really weren’t many changes. The cabins were much smaller than I remembered. That was a little unnerving.

We drove down to my old cabin. Man, it was tiny! The screened windows that ran most of the way around had been replaced by solid walls. “Old number 19,” my mom said.

My dog Sinbad used to sit staring at a tree in the front yard. He sat frozen, waiting patiently for a lizard to scurry down. The tree looked exactly the same.

A giant metal barrel we burned our trash in was still on the side of the cabin. There was a path that led down to an outhouse and all was the same. The cabins still don’t have water.

From our cabin you could see a building across a field we called the Fun House. There were dances there in the summer. Some nights we’d take blankets out to the field and lie watching the northern lights.

Across the rock road from the Fun House is an artesian well where the residents still get their water. Behind that is the home where the original owners, the Giessows lived. Behind that is a cable car that runs down the hill into the river valley where we swam. It looked the same too.

We found the new owner at the little general store by the well. His name is Ken. He said he’d been out there for 60 years. I told him several generations of my family used to stay there and my name was Dave Udell. He said he remembered Jerry Udell. I told him Jerry was my dad and Valerie said, “Everyone remembers your dad.”

Ken told us no one ever went down to the river anymore since they put a pool in. I told him I would much rather swim in the river. He told me our old dock was still down there.

I asked him if anyone went to Sunset rock to watch the sunset. He said it had been so long that the path to it was overgrown. We drove up the road to the top of the hill and walked through he weeds to the rock. The view was still incredible.

When I was a kid we shared the cabin with two other families. We were always there together. I really never did understand where the grown ups found places to sleep. My brother and I slept in the only real room in the cabin and that was heated by a pot bellied stove. Rent was $150.00 a year and we all split it.

On our way out I asked Ken what the rent was now. He said a couple of thousand a year. I asked if there were any cabins available. He said there were about 15 families on a waiting list but he took my name and said he’d call if anything opened up.

I’m not really sure if I could go back.

If you follow the shape of the roof you can tell the cabin I’m in front of with Chloe and Dylan is the same one I grew up at in the pic with Sinbad. Sinbad at his tree. Me at Sunset Rock. My dad, grandpa, uncles and Aunt Gladys at their cabin. The last pic is me on the old Morse Mill bridge. It was obscured by overgrowth. There was a pavilion next to it in the old days where kids used to dance. My dad told me about a kid that dove into the river from it when he was a kid and hit a boat. He died instantly. While I was there I met a woman who hadn’t been there in 30 years. She said when she was a kid her brother climbed to the top of the bridge, dove off and hit the bottom of the river. He’s been quadriplegic ever since.


Dominic said...

i dunno, dudell...

sounds like you guys got pretty close to going home. great story!

Anonymous said...

You forgot Cabin 19's other updates. On the end opposite these pictures, someone has built a deck. Also, the outhouse shared with the cabin down the hill has been painted blue, there's a big bag pf lime inside and NO SMELL!

According to the woman we talked with, some people joined forces and have water in their cabins. Many outhouses have been torn down because the owner has built shower/bathroom buildings. I didn't see them.

Also, your grandparents rented the cabin in the picture above, then later moved to the ritzier section on the opposite end from Tuxedo Junction, where your Grandpa's brother Uncle Charlie and his wife Aunt Frankie had their cabin. As I recall, Tuxedo Junction plots were long term leases, but the cabins were purchased.

Your Mom

Sue Pickering said...

My name is Sue Pickering. I googled my dad's name to show someone at work about him and I stubbled on this blog. My dad's name is Bob Kornacher. Hi David! It's little Susie Kornacher again! I too was SHOCKED when you recognised me out at the skydiving venue. I'm reading this and the memories are just flooding in. I went back out to Giesow's several years ago to show a friend of mine. I was devastated to see they had put in a pool and took down our "dangerous" playground. God David do you remember the sound of those iron handgrips clanking agaisnt the "maypole"? How none of us ever got killed by one of thise things is beyond me, but boy were they fun! I miss the trips down to the river in the cablecar, sitting there in the hot sun slowly descending down the hill with our live preservors around our necks. Waiting for the thrill of the rope swing and the lazy canoe trips down the Big River to sandbars for lunch. Those were the days. Georgia Shearer recently died and your mom sent some pictures to my mom of all of us at the cabin. I remember all the sights, sounds and smells like it was yesterday. Maybe we can take our kids out there some day and lay in the field on blankets and look at the Northern Lights.....


Doggie said...

Hey Sue, I've written several posts about the club house. I hope you find them. We need to get together soon. Most of the playground is still there. The clay tennis court has been converted to valley ball. The store is kind of a bar now. I think it's mostly hunters putting a buzz on before they go out to shoot at things. You're right about the Maypole, I used to hear that clanging out in the night as I fell asleep.

Anonymous said...

Susan, this info is to the side, but I've always thought it was neat that your parents included the name of an idol of your father's in your name.He was a drummer (and a good one!) and they gave you the name Susan Dodds Kornacher, for the very famous jazz drummer "Baby" Dodds.

David's Mom, Carolyn Udell

Sue Pickering said...

Hi David and Carolyn!
I've always been very proud of that name. Wellll, maybe not ALWAYS. KIds can be mean ya know...Ever since getting over what other people say or think I've been thrilled and proud of my name. :) People think it's "cool" too.
I'd love to see you guys. I have an open house on New Years usually. It's been a bit of a tough year, but if we do have it I will get word to you either through this blog or through my mom and Carolyn...
Maybe next summer we can all take a road trip out the Giessow's....

Diane Marie Giessow said...

I am a Giessow. My great grandfather built cottage farm. 195 acres with 60 cottages. I only remember being there twice. Once in the 70's and again in the 80's. MY dad had many great stories about growing up there.

Jim Wings said...

I am trying to find Giessow's Cottage Farms on Google Maps. Can anyone give me the exact coordinates? (Something like this: 38.233194, -90.668949) Or maybe give me directions on how to get there? My family use to go there as children and I would like to go back to see it. We were the Wingbermuehle family if anyone remembers us. I was a young kid, so I don't recall what cabin we had, or how to get there anymore. I know it is near Morse Mill, MO. Thanks for your help.