"The House Where Gene Lives"


Story by Philip G. Parsons, June 1968




It was Sunday, June 9, 1968, and all the Quint tribe were invited to the big picnic out on the farm where Gene and JoAnn and their four children live. Everybody planned to go and the picnic baskets were filled with so many different kinds of sandwiches, with strawberry pies, pickles, potato chips, fried chicken, ham and everything that goes to make a wonderful family picnic.

Uncle Phil and Aunt Hazel were visiting from Colorado and were to ride with Bessie Morris, Florence and Jennie. Phil had asked about Millbrook township and this would be his opportunity to see it. We started early and rode a mile and a half south from Hill City, turned west through 'Lovers Lane' and zigzagged on section lines to the southwest. A point of interest was the Millbrook schoolhouse, and near it a pile of native stone that is all that is left of the Millbrook hotel. Next the bare, stone skeleton of the Nettleton house stood to the south of our road, and a bit further the early home of Harold Gilliland was pointed out on the north side of the road.
Soon we turned south off of the road and down a sloping farm lane to a big stone house among some trees, which was our destination. We were greeted with greetings and laughter and soon found that we were the first to arrive. JoAnn suggested a tour of their home, the old Staggers place, and we were all so pleased to look at it.

Photo of Gene & JoAnn, 1949
The house is of solid stone construction, the walls are very thick and JoAnn told us you never feel any wind no matter how strong, when 'in the safest place in the country.' We became absorbed in the fine old building and the tasteful way in which Gene and JoAnn have furnished it, and sure enough one does not pay much attention to conditions outside, as we later discovered it had started to rain hard and a very strong wind whipped the raindrops into mist.

Such a large house required many square feet of carpeting and JoAnn had glued and sewed together many samples of fine carpet so as to make very unusual patch work patterns, and had produced fine carpets in a hit or miss pattern for many of the rooms all about the house. The rooms are large with eleven foot ceilings. On the second floor we saw a stairway which Gene said led to a regular attic, then another platform higher up making it 17 feet to the top of the great attic above the full two-story house. The children were anxious to demonstrate how you slide down the long, straight rail, and Gene remarked that many a Stagger's had polished that rail.

Because of the rain which fell in torrents for a short while, Elmer and Veva called and said they would wait and perhaps come later, and the rain had started ahead of Delmar and Irma and their family so they could not come. Charles Chipman also called and was unable to make it account of the rain. After a short wait, we decided the road was far too slick for anyone else to make it, so we began a splendid picnic feast in JoAnn's kitchen, which of course extended to all of the lower floors. Those present were: Mrs. Florence Morris, Mrs. Jennie Dunwoody, Mrs. Bessie Morris, Mrs. Leora Brenton, Mrs. Charles Chipman and children, Mark and Paula, one of the Bethel girls with Paula, Ralph and Mary Quint, son, Ronnie, Phil and Hazel Parsons, and Gene and JoAnn Quint and their children, Charlotte, Carl, Vera, and Earl. The lightning took out the power line, so we got candles and a coal oil lantern. The candlelight added to the fun and everyone filled their plates to overflowing as we filed by cafeteria style and partly guessed what we were helping ourselves to in partial darkness. Gene and JoAnn are grand as host and hostess and we hall had a wonderful time.

Since it had rained hard, the dirt road was very slick but Gene reassured us that his four-wheel drive school bus would go anyplace in any weather. We decided it would be best to get home early, so Ronnie was pressed into service as driver for Mrs. Bessie Morris, and Ralph took over for Avis. Gene broke trail and two cars followed. Our car lost some momentum at about the middle of the big hill, and waited until Gene backed down to us and hooked on. With only a tiny pull on the main hill, we made it fine over all the hills and dales to the main highway, where Bessie took over. Avis then took over in her car and Ralph and Ronnie returned with Gene to get their pick-up and Mary. We wouldn't have missed this trip in the mud for anything! We all talked about old times when roads were mostly mud and when it rained - long before the days of black top and super highways. Personally, it called to mind a day when we were returning home to Colby, after a visit with the folks in Hill City. At that time the road ran along the banks south of the river and it had rained, and our Dodge turned crosswise of the road and proceeded to slide sidewise down a very long hill. Ray was the baby then and riding in the back seat. Hazel reached over and grabbed him, and we all hung on for dear life. Finally, the car suddenly swung into the ruts still right side up, and the excitement was over!

The Quint family picnics are always major events, and we are sure this one will rank with the rest as one of the high points of our recent visit to Graham County, Kansas.

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