Revisiting the past
Seven kids in two bedrooms may sound like a nightmare, but to David Buening and his siblings, it was just their childhood.
Before Crooked Willow became the antique and gift store it is today, the Buenings lived on the property in a small house just big enough to squeeze in the family of nine.
David, the youngest of the seven children, remembers playing games with his brothers and sisters in the back yard.
The seven children were all very close in age, all born within 10 years.
“We really got to know our siblings really well,” he said.
With all the farm work to do daily, David said the kids all had to learn to get along.
The Buening family owned dairy cattle, horses, cats, dogs, and acres of corn, alfalfa and soybeans that they harvested with the help of neighbors.
Not only did the farm work teach the kids to get along, but David said it also taught good work ethic and how to enjoy the simple things.
Each night, the family sat down for dinner together, making memories David’s mother would cherish long after her children moved away to start their own families.
David also remembers walking to the far reaches of the pasture, riding their horses and enjoying their black and white TV with one channel available.
The Buenings lived on the property until 1970 when they moved to a larger farm near Melrose to be closer to family.
In the early 1990s, the property once owned by the Buening family was not what they remembered.
“It was kind of a sad thing to see it wear down,” David admitted.
But soon the property would see major changes. In 2004, Chris and Terri Anderson, owners of Crooked Willow gift and antique store, bought the property and started renovating the buildings.
“We saw it get a facelift on the way,” David said.
The owners before the Andersons added a garage to the farmhouse, and the Andersons added much more.
Now, the only part of the small house that remains is the back portion of the Crooked Willow building.
David said the family was excited to see the small dairy farm they once lived on be turned into something as special and beautiful as the small antique and gift shop.
“There is no way my parents would have envisioned our humble, little dairy farm being changed into something so extraordinary,” said David of his late parents, Lydia and Ambrose.
When visiting the farmland that was turned into the Crooked Willow antique shop, David said he felt nostalgic.
He described the experience as heartwarming. Though there were many dramatic changes made to the property, there were still some similarities.
“Obviously, the land doesn’t change,” David said.
In fact, the Crooked Willow shop got its name from a twisted willow tree that has been on the property since the Buening family lived there.
In David’s most recent visit back to the farm, he met with the current owners and replicated a picture he took in 1960 as a child.
David created a game called Play on Words in 2013 that is featured at the Crooked Willow gift and antique store alongside the before-and-after pictures. The game has done very well locally and in the Twin Cities area.