COLUMN: Remembering when Lawrenceburg first felt like home

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By Joan Burke

We arrived in Lawrenceburg in January 1996 and literally drove up to a house I hadn’t seen since I was a child and had little memory about it.

Mike and the kids had only seen pictures. We had followed a bad snowstorm cross-country from California. It was a less than joyous trip fraught with mishaps, making for cranky children.

When we pulled into that driveway that afternoon, we walked into an old farmhouse that had been a rental for more than 30 years. Old furniture, trash, boxes and junk filled the upstairs and downstairs. There must have been 25 old tires on the property, half of them across the road by the old fallen-down log cabin. You could call it rustic at best.

Thank God the electricity was on (I had called about that ahead of time), but somehow the phones were not working even though they were supposed to be. We didn’t own a cell phone way back then, so we couldn’t call to get them to turn it on.

We would have to drive into town later and grab some food and try to do something about the phone then. Mike was anxiously working to get the furnace started. He got the pilot light finally lit, and it roared to life.

Later we found out the furnace was not burning the propane properly, and was probably leaking a small amount of carbon monoxide into the house. No wonder we were all having headaches.

After we had unloaded some necessities from our U-Haul truck and brought in suitcases, we decided to make at least two rooms into spaces for sleeping and getting dressed, so we thought it would be a good idea to pull up a soiled and bumpy carpet that was in the living room.

With all four of us tugging mightily at the edges, the rug finally gave way, and to our surprise and horror, several mice shot out from underneath it and scurried to their holes in the walls. As the dust settled I said to Mike, “Do we really want to sleep here tonight?”

“We’ll get some traps when we go into town,” he said nonchalantly. “Don’t worry about it.”

Easy for him to say. If we didn’t get the beds set up that night, we’d be sharing the floor with those icky critters.

After cleaning up and putting a few things in order, Mike got our little blue Chevy Luv truck off the trailer and we drove into Lawrenceburg to get some dinner and run errands.

My son Kevin, who was 8 at the time, kept saying “McDonald’s! McDonald’s! They have a McDonald’s!” I couldn’t exactly share his enthusiasm, since we’d been eating their food for about a week and half on the road.

Later in the first week after we moved, we got the phone turned on, cleaned up the tires and junk and hauled out three big truckloads of stuff from all those people during all those years. We cleaned the house as best we could and began the planning for remodeling the kitchen and upstairs. The kids were finally getting settled in their new schools. We bought a used car, a station wagon (to my pre-teen daughter’s dismay) and settled in for the last of winter in our new home, our new town, our new state.

I remember one evening looking out the window at the low hills, the driveway where the new-old car was parked, and watching it snow for the first time since we’d arrived. It all looked so opaque, pale blue, soft and quiet as the snow fell on the silvery car and the windowsill. It seemed surreal.

We were still suffering a little culture shock, and we were tired to the bone. But that night

I knew, somehow, watching it snow, that we were finally home, and it would be fine.

Joan Burke is a Lawrenceburg resident and a guest columnist for The Anderson News.