History of Milford Bone: Extraordinary Architecture in the Southern Middle West
History of Milford Bone: Extraordinary Architecture in the Southern Midwest
Saree Reed, circa 1962
I doubt much of this will ever see the light of day. My grandchildren keep asking me to write down stories about my life. I don’t want to write about my life, so I’ll write about the houses that have shaped my life, up on that backbone, overlooking the lake where I loved to spend my time.
Hopefully it will appease Dvora, she’s sweet but is constantly asking me to write things down. She doesn’t have to know that it’s not about me or my family. I could tell her stories about her mother, she’d get a kick out of that at first, but then they’d probably make her feel pretty bad. So I’ll write this, tell her I’m working on it, and when she reads it, she’ll understand something.
I am Saree, born to Laura and Otto Reed of Milford Bone. Otto and Milford were friends with the Wea and other native people that lived at the lake and near where Milford sits now. I know what people are brought up as; what people think of other people, but it just wasn’t true. Laura and Otto had no ill feelings towards anyone who lived here before or after.
The Reeds have also always had a non-traditional structure, you might say. We never much cared for the way that the men in the house led things, so Laura was in charge of our house. Sure, they would pass as conforming to the patriarchy if needed, but Otto was never a leader of the house. Laura, my mother, used his maleness as she needed to to get things done.
The Reed name was passed down on my mother’s side, too. Here I go talking about myself, though, and that’s not the point. The point is that the Reed family, as far as we’ve always known, have taken care of the houses on Milford Bone, the ridge that overlooks Quiet Lake. They are special houses, and that is what I want to write about. Others have lived in the houses beside my kin, but we have always been here, looking out over the lake, since we stepped foot in this country. Elizabeth and William are both buried back behind Milford Bone, which would have been called Hog Bone to them when they settled in the area. The cemetery is that of my family, the Reeds, and Elizabeth and William were the first to be buried there.
I chose not to ever live in one of the houses. Laura and Otto had a cabin on the south side of the lake that they called their cottage, and I lived most of my life there. My husband died when our children were young and it just made sense to stay there, though eventually I built a larger house next to the cottage and tore it down. I had some bad memories attached to it.
The houses, though, are magnificent. I don’t think people understand just what they are and how special they are as buildings made by human hands.
Milford and Quiet Lake are special places, too, made by the hands of the gods. I think the categories that people have put me and my family in are untrue and unintelligent. Midwestern? Technically, yes, I suppose. But there is this region where the Midwestern United States transitions into the South that isn’t easy for most folks to comprehend. Are we Southern? I suppose a little. People think we are simple because of the rumors of folk magic and superstition. I’ve given the what for to a number of people who have talked down to me or my kin because I could hear it in their voice that they thought I was stupid. I would not tolerate it then, and won’t until my dying day.
I’m going to dedicate this book to Dvora Nanny Reed, my grandchild that keeps asking for me to write things down. Dvora is a special person, not swindled by the trappings of modern life like most people I know. She has room for her imagination and understanding of the way things really are.
S.R., Milford Bone, 1958
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