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LARVALBUG LENS, September, 2006

Our lens focuses this time on Evelyn's paternal grandparents (Val's great grandparents) during the annual grape harvest on their Joliet, IL, farm, in 1934. When asked about the photo, Evelyn provided the following information:

The man on the left is my paternal grandfather, whom I dearly loved and was always following him around on his little farm. The lady on the right is my grandmother. All my cousins are telling me that she was very friendly and warm and that my grandfather was strict and stern. I remember everything as the exact opposite. I would have been about 4 years old in autumn of 1934.

The farm was probably only about 10 acres, but it was surrounded by properties that I had access to. My great uncle had the acreage north of this farm, one of my uncles had property across the road from that, and the Bensons had the property directly to the south. Mr. Benson had floral gardens and lots of bees. He bottled honey. He showed me how everything worked with the honey separation and I always had free access to his farm and gardens. To the north of my great uncle was a cemetery and picnic grove.

Grandpa's farm was located between two roads, and his driveway connected the two roads. The eastern road ended at the entrance to the cemetery. He was a well driller and stored all the well drilling equipment behind the numerous barns and out buildings on the property. There were separate sheds for chickens, for a pig once a year (which was butchered right in the yard), a smokehouse, a shed for drying tobacco, and lots of storage buildings. The big barn had a loft where trunks of books were stored.

The wine from the grape harvest was made in the cellars of the farm house. The smell of fermenting grapes still remains in my memory. Grandfather always made "grape juice" for the young children. The barrels had all sorts of controls on top which made several different noises at different times. There were two entrances to the cellars - one from outside with slanted doors and one indoors with a trapdoor located in a room off the dining room.

Besides wine made from grapes, he also used fruit from his apple trees, mulberry trees, rhubarb, and various berry bushes, as well as having a regular vegetable garden. Mushrooms usually grew in the oak wooded area to the east of the farmhouse.

I don't know who the other three people are.

(We wish to extend our gratitude to Evelyn for the fascinating narrative to accompany this photo.)