Were you raised in a barn? I was.

ranch before
See that barn behind the baby? The baby is me and the barn became my house.

My younger brother and I often laugh at the fact that we were indeed raised in a barn. Or what used to be a chicken shed at the edge of an orange grove and next to the railroad tracks. No brag. Just fact.

You see, in the late 1940s, my grandparents purchased the remnants of the Valencia Dale Ranch on East North Street in Anaheim, California. The ranch included a few orange trees, a rundown farmhouse, and a large, albeit even more rundown chicken shed. My Irish grandmother always noted, even when viewing the most derelict and dilapidated of buildings, “Well, it’s got possibilities.” And she was stubborn enough to set about proving her point.

When I was born in 1950, my dad joined the Marine Corps Reserves for the little extra monthly income it provided. Little did he know that a few months later, war would break out in Korea. He was called up to serve for a year, until the regulars arrived. In preparation for that year of separation, my mom and I moved into a recently finished little room beside the barn, just across the driveway from my grandparents’ farmhouse.

ranch 1
Mom and I lived in the room on the right while Dad was in Korea. When he returned, the conversion of the chicken shed began.

A year later, when my dad came home, my grandparents offered my parents what they could–that barn. And over the next decade, that sad shed became a warm and cozy home for me and my little brother, born nine months after Daddy’s return.

Both my parents and grandparents exhibited resourcefulness and inventiveness, converting what they had into what they wanted.

So, no. I don’t consider being raised in a barn an insult.

ranch 3
That’s me, at the front door a few years later. That bird on top of the porch lives in my kitchen now.
Christmas card 1953
One of many Christmas card photos taken at the Dutch door my dad and grandpa installed. The door later became a perfect stage for our puppet shows.

 

 

4 thoughts on “Were you raised in a barn? I was.

  1. We were giddy with excitement at every opportunity to visit. As little kids we didn’t know the house you lived in was a barn. It was the only “farm” us city cousins knew and it was filled with adventure and discovery. I can still picture the land layout and house plan in my mind. Such fond memories…thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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