Home: A Sense of Place

This is a guest post, by my sister, Karen Kolavalli.

Karen Kolavalli, the author of this essay.

Karen Kolavalli, the author of this essay.

Whenever anyone asks “Where’s home?” I immediately picture an isolated farmhouse north of El Dorado, Kansas. I’ve been thinking about the concept of home this week as part of the coursework in an anthropology class I’m taking.

While I don’t have the writing skills of Daphne DuMaurier (“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”) or Isak Dinesen (“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.”), my memories of my growing-up home place are just as poignant. The house burned down a few years after we moved out. I remember as a child, a family brought their elderly mother to the house and asked if she could look around. She had grown up there herself. I’m sad that I can never be that old lady revisiting my childhood home.

My family moved to the country when I was just 6 years old and we remained there until we moved back to town when I was in junior high. Growing up free and wild in the country was, and still is, the best childhood I could imagine. My four sisters and brother and I endlessly explored the woods, the pastures, the creek, and the river, together and on our own. It was a magical time and place.

Cindy, Karen, Ginger and Susan - Quite a long time ago, when we lived in the country.

Cindy, Karen, Ginger and Susan – Quite a long time ago, when we lived in the country.

I was a big reader and I would also get lost in the make-believe world of paper dolls cut from the Penney’s and Sear’s catalogs. We played a lot of board games as a family when bitter winter cold and snow kept us inside. The downstairs of our house was kept warm with a wood-burning stove. The upstairs was not kept warm at all. We children shared beds, which helped keep us warm, although not “toasty” warm. I remember ice on the inside of the windows upstairs in our late 19th-century farm house.

So, yes, that’s “home,” even though I’ve lived in many other places. “Last night I dreamt….”

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2 thoughts on “Home: A Sense of Place

  1. Where was this farm Karen? I also grew up on a farm north of El Dorado. The road is not called Country Club Road I believe, but was Route 4 when I was a child. We owned many, many acres. It was a marvelous place to grown up. My father planted many Austrian Pines there and I ran and played among them. Now, they are huge, but many have been removed. It is not the same out there now. The new high school is built on our pasture land along with many houses. There is much more to say, and I hope that we might be able to chat. God bless, Kathy

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  2. Hi, Kathy–Our address was Route 4, too. We lived 3 miles north of El Dorado, west side of the road down a long gravel drive, just past the turnpike overpass. It was one of the Greene properties and we just rented the house. This was in the late 1950s and into the 1960s. Did you also go to West Branch School or did you go to school in town? And when did your family live out there? Karen

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