This House Is A Home –
A story of coal mining, family and the
Sengers of Stiritz
Author: Philip Nork
That is the question for all time … “What makes a house a home?” Peter finds out when he is assigned a report for school about his ancestors. He takes quite an interesting journey with his Uncle, his Grandmother and Grandfather, his mother, and his sister to southern Illinois, where he meets his Grandfather’s siblings, and their families.
Let’s take a step back … his Grandfather, Vern, left his hometown a lifetime ago, and has not been in touch with his siblings. At the point this journey takes place, he is an old man who sits in his chair all day long, drinking and complaining. However, when faced with the prospect of seeing his siblings again, he goes out and gets a new suit, a new hat, and even begins to smile again!
Young Peter meets his Great-Aunt Maddy, who is the family historian. Through her he begins to get a very different perception of where he came from, and what influenced his Grandfather’s growing up years. His ancestors were coal miners, and faced a very harsh life. They were (and still are!) very hardworking, family oriented people. They may live poor, but they take care of themselves and those around them, and are surrounded by love and genuine caring.
This is an entrancing tale of family, and of lifestyle. We see how Peter’s ancestor’s lived, what was important to them, what their work conditions were, and so much more. I had to smile at the description of an out-house, as in my lifetime one of my ancestors had a very nice house, with running water indoors, but an out-house in place of a bathroom. We are not that far removed from this time.
Through the inclusion of one small event – a Fourth of July party given yearly by Maddy for the entire family – we all allowed a view of history and family dynamics that really is very hard to recreate. My hat is off to Mr. Nork for creating a spellbinding story!
(c) 2000 – 2014 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without the permission of the author.