Editor’s Note: This column was orignally published April 20, 2017.
Many thoughts go through my head when I hear about any “old red barn.” A Google search brings up several poems, short stories and even a jaunty tune played on the violin about an “Ol’ Red Barn.”
A few months ago, we ran a story in our Senior Lifestyles section about a Prairie City woman who published a book, “Hayropes & Hinges,” which was based on a poem she wrote entitled, “The Old Red Barn.” It was wonderful to read the stories and hear about how the barn still stands after 70 years, though now it sits empty. Its days of usefulness gone with the new technology that farmers now enjoy. I was sad to learn of her passing, but I was thankful we were able to tell her story.
Many people immortalize these structures, but for me there will only be one true “old red barn” — the one I used to play in as a child at my grandma’s farmhouse.
I remember playing in the hay bales that seemed to go up to the ceiling at times. We used to climb up the old hay elevator to get to the barn loft to play with my siblings and cousins. You were only cool if you could jump for the loft edge to the stacks of bales. It honestly wasn’t that far, but to a kid, it was an amazing feat.
By a stroke of luck, there is video evidence of the Bushong cousins playing in the barn. It was sometime in the early 1990s, and my dad brought his video camcorder to capture events of the day. You know those big, bulky devices that you put a VHS tape in, prop it on your shoulder and record away. I’ll be forever grateful that he brought it. It’s the best memory ever.
It’s hard to hear everything that was going on, but there was some mention of princesses and you can see my cousin Lucas grab an ice cream bucket and head off to collect who knows what. There was no hay bale leaping in the video, but I swear we all did it.
As all of us cousins grew up, play time in the barn decreased more and more, to the point I can’t remember the last time I set foot in the memorable structure. I helped paint the west side of the barn in my junior high years, but I don’t think I actually went inside the playhouse of my childhood again. I took for granted the building would always be there. I drove past it without a thought in my teen years and thought of it even less in my college and adult years.
Unfortunately, the barn is no longer there. A windstorm a few years ago damaged it beyond repair. There was no other choice but to bring it down.
It was a sad day when that happened. Unlike other old barns, my cousin and uncle still used it to raise cattle. So in its place now sits a new metal building, but to me, it will never hold the same charm and appeal as that old red barn.
Grandma was so disappointed when her barn was damaged. I think she would have picked any other building on the property to go ... well perhaps not the house. She still expresses disdain every time we drive past the neighbor’s raggedy old barn and how she wishes the storm took it instead of hers.
This past weekend as I spent my traditional Easter Sunday at Grandma’s house, it was hard not to still look for the barn that is so ingrained in my memory. It’s not the only thing that is different about the farm, but to me it is the most significant.
The old red barn stands mighty in my memory, I only wish I could turn back time and walk through it one last time.
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