One of the book's stories is about a "mystery barn" - a small structure that my sisters, friends and I played in as young children. When I began writing that story, I rummaged through boxes and files of old photos left to me by my mother. I knew that the small barn was no longer around, and it became important to find a photo, a reminder.
I never found a photo. As I was working on this book, I turned to my younger sister for help. She moved from Michigan more than 25 years ago and is legally blind from a degenerative eye disease. She remembered the barn and, after a little persuasion, she was able to recreate the barn in a drawing. I find the drawing remarkable since it looks exactly as I remember the barn, yet the drawing was created solely on memory and by somebody who can hardly see to write, let alone draw.
The Baldwin Barn
Another barn that's gone is the Baldwin Barn that used to be along the east side of US-223 north of Blissfield and south of Palmyra. It was a huge, imposing structure with the name "Baldwin" spelled out in the roof shingles. It was probably as large as Lloyd Betz's barn that I write about in the book.
As teenagers, my friends and I spent a lot of time in the neighboring town of Adrian, which was larger than Blissfield and had more hangouts! We passed the Baldwin barn every time we went north, and again on our trip home. We always knew it was only three miles more to home when we passed the Baldwin barn.
The Staup family lived across the street from us in Blissfield. They had four older boys and a daughter Jill, the youngest child in the family, who was one of our constant playmates. Staup's also had a barn, but like many people in the 1950s, they didn't use it as a barn in the traditional farming way.
By the 50s, farming, even in Blissfield where it was the major industry, was waning. So the Staup's used the barn in other ways. With four boys in the family, the barn always had a car in some stage of rebuilding or repair. Mr. Staup was a painter by trade, so the barn held an assortment of ladders and scaffolding and of course his truck. But when the brothers weren't working on cars, and Mr. Staup was away at work, we had the barn to play in! It's hard to describe to my kids and grandkids exactly how you play in a barn, but we did. It was great for hide-and-seek, of course. But it was even better if we were playing our favorite games of cowboy-and-Indian or cops-and-robbers.
Have an interesting barn story? Is there a unique barn you remember? Send us a note and a brief story of your barn. We'll post the best stories here on this site. Send
your stories to Tina
Here's what Joanne J. of Holt, Michigan, wrote recently: "I found this book very delightful. I married my husband who came from a farming family. There was a beautiful, big red barn that was used for the cows and putting up hay. I also had a barn on the land where I grew up. We spent many days playing in the barn. Laying in the hay on a rainy day. What a beautiful sound to hear the rain land on the barn roof. It put you right to sleep!"
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