By KATIE BEVAN and MITCH RYALS
As you round the corner at the end of Grant Lane— amid the subdivisions where the houses all look a bit alike — is a ranch house with a barn alongside it, a windmill and bales of hay in the back. And it’s been there a long, long time.
So has Robert E. Grant, who lives there with his wife. He has lived on the property for all 77 of his years on this earth.
Grant’s grandfather purchased the land, but all of his memories begin with his father.
“My dad farming it, raising enough stuff to keep us going…” Grant said. “’We may not have any money, but we’re sure gonna eat’,” his father would say.
Back when Grant’s father owned the land, it encompassed 80 acres. On it, they raised hogs, sheep, cattle, potatoes and much more.
“We usually killed one beef around February, and that would last us through the end of the year,” he said. “My mom would can everything, 100 quarts of tomatoes. 75 to 100 of green beans.”
The original Grant home, which stood across what is now West Grant from the current Grant home, was built in 1843. It was big enough to hold the family of two parents and six children – three boys and two girls. There was another child — a girl — who died in infancy.
The original, carved wooden fireplace mantels from that house are kept in the basement of the Grant’s current house. They’re just two of the many artifacts of farm’s history the Grants have around their home.
Grant’s father died when he was 10 years old. His mother and older brother took on the day-to-day responsibilities of the farm.
In high school, Grant raised hogs as a member of the Future Farmers of America, even winning first place for a hog he raised. He then spent four years serving in the military.
On March 15, 1957, Grant returned home and shortly started working for a delivery service. That’s how he met Ida, his wife of 51 years. She was working for the farm bureau and would walk down to the Boone County Oil Company, where Bob worked delivering petroleum, to buy gum several times a day.
Ida Grant was raised east of Columbia. She spent some of her early years in St. Louis, but moved back to Columbia at age 9.
“When I went to Jefferson Junior I had the same history teacher that my father had, and then at Hickman my typing teacher had been his trigonometry teacher,” said Ida, whose roots are also in a family farm close to Columbia.
Bob is quick to interject his view of things. The couple takes turns telling the family history, sometimes finishing each other’s sentences.
“My brother went to [the history teacher], too . If you done something, the minute you done it, she knew,” he said.
The couple moved into their current house after getting married 52 years ago. Their current house was built in 1960 and sits on the 28 acres they now have left of the 80 acres the family had when Grant was a child.
After his time delivering petroleum to farms, Grant began to work for the MU Athletic department, where he managed equipment for the football teams.
His fondest memories from his seven years with MU was the three bowl games the football team made it to during that period: the Sugar Bowl, the Gator Bowl, and the Orange Bowl.
“In the Sugar we won. We beat Florida. The way we won that game was a 51- or 52-yard field goal, if I remember correctly, “ said Grant of the game. “In the Gator Bowl, we beat Alabama. They [the school] flew my wife and sister out to that game.” Grant received commemorative watches for his work during these games.
“That man, he was gone three years for Christmas and New Year’s,” said Ida, whose memories of the bowl games are less fond.
The couple has two daughters. The youngest, Anna Beth, lives in Tennessee. The older, Phyllis, lives on an acre of the farm that her father gave her, right next door.
“It’s nice to have her so close,” said Ida. “We don’t have a computer, and she does,” she said, naming one of the many benefits of having her so close.
“And this,” Ida said, gesturing to the beagle curled up by the window, “is our youngest.” Ellie Mae is the first dog the family has ever had that lived inside the house.
The Grant’s home is full of historical objects. Out in the barn, Grant proudly displayed a wagon from the 1800s that he’s working to restore. It’s been in the family for as long as he can remember.
Another proud piece of history Grant was excited to show off was his collection of around 50 arrowheads he’s found on the property, particularly during plowing every year.
“It’s just another rock,” Ida said, teasing her husband.
“Yeah, just another rock,” Grant replied with a laugh. He talks about the intricacies of the handiwork, specifically the attention to detail in the arrowheads. While not an expert on the history of the artifacts, Grant admires the craft of creating something so practical, from the simplest of resources.
Bob and Ida Grant generously shared their lives, speaking as a family does around the table after a holiday meal. They even had time for a picture.