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Proctor: Life at Grandpap Fronapfel’s House

By Gary Eller - | Jul 21, 2021

My Grandpap and Grandma Frohnapfel’s farm house was on the north edge of Route 2 about two miles north of Proctor. I’ve told that Grandpap’s farm originally was my great grandfather Anthony Estep’s farm (Arick’s before that). Anthony and his wife lived in an older house directly across the road from my Grandpap’s house. I’ve been told that Grandpap built the house out of poplar trees he cut on the hillside behind the house. After Mobay Chemical Company bought the farm, the house was taken down by Mike Estep and his brothers and the lumber used to build the Estep family camp out on their farm out towards St. Joe.

My earliest childhood memories are of that place, before we moved to the new house my Dad built out Proctor when I was about four. I hazily remember the kitchen and big living room. I also remember the chicken coop, extra small house, big garden, and barn near the house. Water was piped to the house from a spring up on the hillside to the kitchen. There was one flush toilet and electricity in the house. Brother Chuck clearly remembers that the house was heated with a coal furnace, but sometimes coal was unavailable.

The family would walk the B&O railroad tracks along the river to pick up coal that fell off train cars. When coal wasn’t available, wood was burned in the fireplace. There was no heat upstairs in the bedrooms other than that which drifted up from below.

Chuck also remembered a piano room which also served as a viewing room when Grandma Anna died in 1943. He also remembers a root cellar which usually was amply stored with homemade wine and smoked hams, a smoke house, and a big orchard behind the house. Grandpap ran cattle on the rugged ridge owned by his brother Lee up high behind the house where there was some forage.

I also remember hogs being scalded and scraped at butchering time around Thanksgiving and apple sauce being made in big wood-fired cauldrons.

I wrote and recorded the songs Tater and The Auction about my grandfather Frohnapfel.