It’s strange that I still call the house of my childhood, my house. It seems she’s in a bit of a pickle these days.
“Sign on your old house has to do with the condition of the outside of the place. The grass is too tall. Very weedy. Moss is growing on the siding. One note said public nuisance, and the other said “Abate”. I looked it up on Yahoo and it means cut the grass and take care of the garbage or you will be fined. I don’t thing anyone is even living in the place right now. Part of me would like to see the inside and part of me says that is not a good idea.”
I talked with my cousin a few days ago. She said she had driven past the home of my childhood. There were notes on the door. Later she drove by again out of curiosity to see the notes and sent me the above email.
Before starting to write today, I looked for a picture of the house to share…kind of like an obituary. However, with the staging of my home and rearranging of everything I couldn’t find it.
She was a proud home. She was built in 1940 by my father for my mother when they married. As far as today’s homes go, she really wasn’t all that big. The upstairs had two bedrooms and one bath with a third bedroom over the attached garage. When my dad finally got that room and my sister had to share the “master” bedroom with me for one year, I used to lay in his bed to read because his bedroom window faced south and the sunlight was strong. It was warming in the winter. It was more cheerful than my north facing room. His room had an alcove with a desk which originally belonged to one of my mother’s sisters. That is all that would fit in that small space. I would often do my homework at that desk before he got home.
The master bedroom only had one wall upon which to place furniture. There were three large windows to the north and two to the east. There were two deep closets which fit under the sloping roof. Between the two doors was place for a bureau and although it was tricky, there was a cat-a-cornered dresser in the other corner. When I was twelve I got to pick the color of my room. I chose a beautiful shade of light lavender. We had an area planted with lilies-of-the-valley directly below my east windows. I loved the arrival of spring because the fragrance of those flowers would drift up to my bedroom. That scent would be combined with the lilac bushes in our backyard.
Behind the master was the room which was originally the nursery. I remember nursery rhyme linoleum on the floor and light blue walls before my aunt moved into that room. It had one window to the east and two to the south. My aunt hung sheer crossed curtains over her windows. I always loved those beautiful curtains. Every spring she would take them down and wash them. When she did, the whole room smelled “spring time fresh”. Behind the door was a built in book case where I was allowed to keep all my books. I belonged to the Weekly Reader book club for several years so the shelves filled pretty full. When I was in seventh grade my father bought me a set of World Book Encyclopedias which went upon the shelves.
On the main floor there was a living room, dining room and kitchen. The dining room was big enough to hold about eight people when the leaves were inserted into the table. There were two corner cabinets that stored mother’s good dishes and for many years my sister’s story book dolls.
The kitchen was large enough to have an eat-in kitchen table, cabinets on either side of the sink, and a gas stove. The refrigerator was built in the space under the stairs. I often wondered how more recent buyers handled the problem of a refrigerator because more modern refrigerators would never fit. It had no freezer. Later we bought a more modern one with an extremely close fit but it still was short by today’s standards.
The basement was divided into two rooms. The gas furnace was in the back room. It was absolutely huge by today’s standards. It filled almost a third of the room. There were two wash tubs and a wringer washer which we used until I was in high school. We then added a dryer and finally a more modern washer . The front room was where the laundry was hung on rainy days and all through the winter. The cement walls were unpainted giving the rooms an eerie cold feeling. I really didn’t like going down into the basement.
When I entered high school we had a clothes dryer by then. The basement front room was painted yellow and my sister’s old radio/45rpm record player, which she no longer wanted, was moved down there along with a glider. I hung a bamboo curtain over the storage space under the stairs. In the summer it was a much cooler place to hang out during the day. I even hosted a church youth group meeting down there one time. My one and only party at that house.
The house had one other house directly across the street. There was a deep ravine separating it from the next house. During the summer the kids on my street spent a lot of time down that ravine in the woods. We would traipse down a steep hill to the bottom where a small stream flowed. There was even a waterfall, although it was only about two to three-foot high. We would play in the water and make figurines out of the clay.
The street was made of cinders from all the coal-burning furnaces. It ended three houses down from my house. There were wonderful berry bushes which produced luscious berries in the summer. My aunt’s house next door had wonderful puddles at the end of her driveway where I would sit and play. My cousin and I made mud pies behind her house. I really do have fond memories of my neighborhood. Eventually the road was extended over the gully, the berry bushes removed and the road curbed and asphalted. But by then I was in high school and didn’t play out in the street any more.
I loved my house, I hated my house. But it was my house until I graduated from college and moved away. I’ve met a lot of people who have lived in a lot of houses in their lives so that no one house was considered their childhood home. There may have been many things lacking in my life but I did have a roof over my head and a safe place to play until dark. For that I will be always grateful.
I am praying some kind family will find her and resurrect her. At times I’ve felt the pull of her to take me back to my childhood home. I know that won’t happen but there are worse things than returning home towns. I don’t think I would have the same burning desire to escape as I did back then.
Thanks for dropping by. Peace be with you. Attic Annie
PS The house finally sold after someone bought it and rehabed it. There were pictures on the internet. They really made the old girl look good. I wouldn’t recognize the new kitchen or bath. When I drove by in September, there was play sets in the backyard so there must be a young child/children living there. I’m happy for the house. I’m sure she’ll last a long time.