Old House

by Helen Nolden

There’s a house a block away from where I live that has held my interest for quite some time. No one has lived in it for many years. Windows are broken, boards breaking loose, paint peeling and shingles falling to the ground. It’s a house in cruel disrepair. But at one time, it was a beautiful home. A house with character.

Years ago, this house had children running through its many rooms. There was cooking and baking to feed its residents. It was a very friendly house. Now it stands alone, uncared for!

Around 1905, Dr. Harris Erenfeld had his hospital in that old house. There was a big waiting room to the south part of the house. There was an operating room, storeroom, pantry and entry way all on the main floor. The steps leading upstairs were wide as was the hallway on the second floor. There were four bedrooms and a bath upstairs.

Bernard Aisenbrey, 16 years old, had an accident on their farm six miles south of Anamoose. He had fallen off his horse and suffered head injuries. They brought him to Erenfeld’s hospital, but it was too late. Bernard died a few hours later.

After Erenfeld moved to Minot, the John M. Schmidt family moved into that house from their farm northeast of town.

They had a large family. I remember back in those years, you could raise pigs, geese and chickens in town. Their chicken coop was to the north of the house. They had two cows in the big red barn on the east end of their lots.

I chummed with their Florence. One time when I stayed overnight with her, Florence broke out with the measles. For some reason, I never got them.

They had their yard fenced in as did most of the towns-people at that time. Mrs. Schmidt’s garden was also fenced in with a small gate. This was close to the house. In that way the little fence kept out the children and the dogs.

On 1936, the Schmidt family moved out to California. Many other people lived in that house. One family, the Louie Myers lived there in the ‘40s. He was chief of police in Anamoose. After he was elected sheriff of McHenry County, the family moved to Towner. After his death, while in office, Margaret Myers served out his term as sheriff.

There may have been other families in between, but in the 50s and 60s, the Christ Hauser family lived in that old house. They had the most beautiful flower gardens. There were so many different varieties of blossoms. As each family moved in this old house, they tore down walls or added walls. They took out cupboards or added cupboards. But the mainstay of the house stayed quite the same.

Then in 1971, my family and I moved into that house. I loved the house from the very beginning. It was so convenient for the kids to run across the street to get to school. It made it easy for me to get to all the school functions as I didn’t drive.

The three and a half lots gave us plenty of room for a garden, flowers, children and pets. At one time we had three children, two dogs, one cat and one raccoon. It was funny how they all blended together and grew.

It was in that house when I got the blues on my 50th birthday. Why that’s half a century! My spirits were raised quickly when about 30 teenagers gave me a surprise party. They brought gifts, cards and food. The kids were from Balfour, Drake, Harvey and town. What an evening!

The glass in the upper part of the bay window was the most beautiful stained glass. Deep rose, blue, green and yellow designs and flowers. The side panels were of a deep rose. There were also stained glass in the northwest bedroom.

I never tired watching the colorful patterns dance across the living room floor on a bright sunny day. In the evening I had the same pretty reflections in my bedroom as the sun was setting. I found it very relaxing. I wonder if they had planned it that way?

After we moved out in the late ‘70s, a few families lived there. None of them for very long. The house has been setting empty since 1987. It’s amazing how quickly the deterioration took over. I have seen many stray cats go over there at night.

I understand the city will tear down the house in the early spring. While I know it is something that must be done, I hate to have it happen. I don’t think I’ll be able to watch as the wrecking ball takes its toll of my old house. No, there are far too many happy memories in that old house across the street with nobody in it!


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