From The Archives: Idly Rolling Hills

My paternal grandparents owned a farm that straddled US 42 just a little on the Gallatin Co. side of the Gallatin/Boone border. Willie, my grandfather Harris, owned some cows and ran a bit of a dairy operation for a number of years. When it came to giving the farm a name, Willie chose one whose initials were the same as that of my father: Idly Rolling Hills. According to Dad, coming up with “Idly” had taken some thought. He proudly had it painted on the side of the barn. The photo above is probably from the 70s, after enough time had passed for the paint to begin fading. It’s an 8 by 10; my memory is it appeared in the Gallatin County News as part of their “scenes from around the county” beat and that Dad then requested a copy of it.

I can remember being in the farmhouse just a few times when I was very young; the strongest memory is of a holiday dinner, gathering around the dining room table. Grandma moved out of it and into her sister’s house in the very early 70s after a break-in occurred while visiting us in Stanford. Dad always maintained that event was the beginning of her decline. We then passed by it when we would travel to Aunt Birdie’s–that dairy barn was always a landmark on the way home to Walton.

The land was reasonably hilly overall, and lots of cedars grew on the untended parts (after my grandfather died the only tended parts were tobacco fields). One year–I think it was 76–Dad and I trekked over from Walton and cut down the tree we put up for Christmas.

In 83 Dad decided to sell the farm. The house had just sat there for more than a decade and the only activity going on had come from Dad arranging with men he knew to grow tobacco on a few fields and house it in the tobacco barn on the other side of the road. I went with him a couple of times as he prepared to clear out the house, but most of those duties fell to Mom and him.

Whoever bought it subdivided and resold parts of it. The section on the river side of 42 got a liquor store built on it (Dad knew his parents would have been horrified at that outcome). The barn and corncrib on the other, larger side quickly came down and several small ranch houses sprung up in their place. The farmhouse is still standing; I assume someone lives there.

Now that both of my parents are gone I don’t have all that much occasion to travel that stretch of highway. When I go to Warsaw now, my usual route emerges on 42 by the river, a few miles to the southwest. It was still on the way between Florence and Warsaw, though, and it was fitting to have to drive by it going to and from Dad’s funeral in December 13. I believe I remember thinking about him as we zipped past, a bit of snow remaining on the ground from the storm that had gone through the day he died.

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