Book about growing up in landmark home now available; book coincides with sale of Madison house

THERESA SCHAEFER, the youngest of Larry and Jeanne Green's 13 children, wrote a book about growing up in one of Madison's landmark houses.

After nearly 60 years, a For Sale sign went up on a community landmark this spring -- the Green house on N.E. 3rd Street near Baughman-Belatti Park.

Signature Realty Group, LLC, which handled the sale, described the three-story home with a stone wraparound porch in a Facebook post. Viewers were invited to walk in with a description detailing the home's elegant features -- windows galore, wood built-ins, fireplaces, pocket doors, formal dining room, breakfast nook, library with built-ins.

"It was hard to let go," said Theresa Schaefer, the youngest daughter of Larry and Jeanne Green. "It's not the house; it's all the memories."

The Greens were the third family to live in the house which was built in 1915. Schaefer said her parents looked at a couple of houses when relocating from Sioux Falls and chose the one that had an acreage and small woodland area.

"They moved with 11 children in 1963; my mom was pregnant," Schaefer noted.

While she does have fond memories of spending hours in the woods, building forts and playing with her siblings, she admitted she wasn't equally fond of the house while growing up.

"I wanted a modern, ranch-style house," she explained. Now, though, she appreciates what she had, especially when people ask her what it was like to grow up in the spacious home with hardwood floors and multi-paned windows.

Schaefer actually has an answer that she can hand them -- a book she recently finished called "The Green House of Stone." Written in rhyming verse with illustrations drawn from memory, the book is available on Amazon.com and in Madison at Small Town Girlz.

"It's an old-fashioned story," Schaefer said, adding that many points continue to be relevant today.

She began the book 25 years ago. Staying at home with her three small children enabled her to see her mother with new eyes.

"I started having an appreciation for what my mother did raising 13 kids," Schaefer indicated.

She wrote the verse in which she introduces her parents and siblings one by one, including Madison dentist Larry Green and Madison artist John Green, and describes family life. She writes about wearing hand-me-down clothes and about sibling squabbles.

Schaefer also shares bits of wisdom that she picked up from her parents. She wrote, for example, about her mother's interventions when there were family squabbles: "Mother would come, to the kids she would tend. 'Cause she knew it's hurt feelings that are hardest to mend."

She also wrote about what she learned growing up in the Green family, saying, "For material things are not the key to having a happy family. It's the love that is shared between one another, between father, mother, sisters and brothers."

When she wrote the verse, she made drawings to illustrate the book. However, at that time, digital art was growing in popularity, and she was hesitant to invest more time in the project when the style was out of date. She also come against another roadblock.

"I didn't know how to get the color on it," Schaefer said.

The project was set aside and nearly forgotten as she got busy with her growing kids and their activities. Fortunately, when she and her husband Randy moved, the project moved with them.

"This past winter, I was cleaning out a closet and came across it," she reported.

Schaefer decided the time had come to finish the book. Not only did she have the time to experiment with different techniques until she found an approach that enabled her to get the effect she wanted, but the family had also made the decision to sell the house.

Cleaning out the family home with her siblings, she realized that while the house had served her family well, her family had given it the life and memories she cherished. She made new sketches and colored the illustrations with watercolor pencils, recording for her family what they had shared.

"I miss the simple life sometimes," Schaefer said, looking at her book wistfully.