After a-hundred-plus years, the wedding shed is showing its age. The paint has faded, some windows are broken or missing, and two adjustable columns support a cracked beam. As I paid my respects on Memorial Day weekend, I remembered a time when the old shed was quite grand.
Thirty years ago — June 4, 1988, to be exact — my Dad had made sure the old shed had been thoroughly cleaned, spruced up with bright red paint, and given a new concrete floor to hold my wedding reception. My husband and I were married in my family’s church in town and we had our wedding dinner at a local banquet hall. But for a few hours in between on a summer afternoon, we and our 100 or so guests hung out in the shed. I thought it was a perfect reception location, and the farm people, small-town folks, and urbanites in attendance all seemed to agree. My reception may have been the only party the shed ever hosted.
Never a she shed or a man cave, it had been a hard working farm building for the first half of its life. Then its role was taken over by an aqua aluminum pole building with a higher roof and wider span to better shield modern farm implements from the elements. By the late 1960s it had become the automobile garage on my family’s farm. It also gave safe haven to bicycles, red wagons, lawn mowers, and an assortment of farm-related stuff from years past that my grandparents just couldn’t throw away.
In my youth I often explored the shed and exhumed its treasures. For example, I discovered old mason jars, picture frames, and bottles that once held Marshfield beer or Wing Drug mineral oil. My husband and I resurrected an old drop-leaf table, a three-burner kerosene stove, and a wooden Uncle Sam who once had held the farm’s mailbox. Though I wondered why Grandma and Grandpa had kept this stuff, I was glad they had, because I could claim these bits and pieces of family history.
These days I don’t explore the shed so much, though there still are gems to behold — old pulleys, logging hooks, wooden runners from a horse-drawn sled, and lots of old metal. Instead, I tend to experience the shed, as I did that recent May afternoon. I stand quietly and watch the sunlight shine in through the windows and knotholes and gaps between the siding. I listen to the wind, the hum of the fans from the nearby barns, and miscellaneous farm sounds. I think about my grandparents who built this shed when they started farming; my aunts and uncles and my Dad, who helped grow the farm in the early years; my parents, who in the 1950s began expanding for the future; my siblings and I and the role we played in continuing the legacy; and my brother and his family, who operate the farm today.
I wonder how much longer my wedding shed will remain. And I pay my respects — looking, listening, and remembering.