My Childhood Home I See For Sale

Suppose someone came up with an idea today to build a community where each house was vastly different from the other. I’m not talking different floor plans and different colors, but different materials, sizes, roofs, everything. A limestone mansion would sit right next to a modest stucco bungalow. Even if anyone was building houses today, most people would probably say, “What are you proposing to build, a neighborhood or a freak show?”

A neighborhood would be my answer, because such was the neighborhood I grew up in for the first ten years of my life. To my sister and I, as little kids, it was Mr. Roger’s neighborhood. The limestone house with the wrought iron fence was the castle, the brick wall alcoves were the trolley tracks, and all the other houses fit somewhere in between. The only two unifying factors was that each house had an address number painted on the curb and one of these in the front yard:

 

These houses were all built early last century, back when architecturally eclectic communities were the norm. I guess some of them would have been pricey at first, but by the time I came along, they were more or less affordable. Ours was a typical two-story brick something or other that had been re-modeled in bad taste sometime during the 70’s. It had a yellow kitchen, a yellow bathroom, and wall-to-wall celery-colored shag carpet. My mother adored the crown molding, but the only thing I really liked about the inside of that were the bamboo-patterned curtains in the playroom, which the previous owners had left behind. With three quick pulls of a string, you could close all of them and have a jungle, even in the middle of February. If I’m every lucky enough to have a place of my own to decorate, I’ll re-create those curtains first thing.

The outside of the house was much more attractive, with a red cement patio and a bi-level backyard.  It was perfect for sledding in the winter, and in the summer, it contained just about every flower that would grow there, give or take some raspberries. There were so many shade trees that we never had to wear sunscreen. To the side was a huge maple, begging for a treehouse, and a weird little door built right into the side of the house. My mom told me it was where the milkman used to leave his deliveries. Since that era came and went, the previous owners had plugged it up on the other side to save heat. Really? They couldn’t have just left it open for some child of the ’90s to play drive-thru with? Grownups.

 

We would have stayed there forever of course, but shared driveway squabbles, several sets of problem neighbors, and the steady demise of that entire side of town drove us out to the new subdivisions. Goodbye Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, hello Mr. White-out’s Plasticville. In 14 years, I never went back up through that neighborhood, even though I have a car now and it’s practically on the way to everything. Then yesterday I figured, why not? I turned onto the street, passed the stucco house, the limestone house, the duplex my sister and I were always going to buy when we grew up, the house with the porch, the walls, and then my old house. What do you suppose I found in the front yard?

    ?

Good guess, but it was actually one of these:

 

It shouldn’t have been a surprise. The people we sold it to are up in years, and it’s probably just too much house for them anymore. As I turn around to head back out, I notice the white iron screen door, the brass mailbox, the new plantings, and the roof railing my dad fashioned out of PVC pipe long before there was such a thing as plastic decking. I also notice a kid standing in the yard next door, looking puzzled. She’s no doubt wondering when the house next door will sell, what the new neighbors will be like, and who’s this idiot in the red car trying to turn around in a dead-end?

 My sister and I playing in the backyard as little tots. A metal-framed swing-set came later that spring.
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9 Responses to My Childhood Home I See For Sale

  1. Genea Elizabeth Bailey says:

    This is lovely, I can’t image seeing my childhood home go on sale. Although I’m going to have to see the new people that live there because I’m going back to visit for a photography project! I couldn’t see any of the photos you posted though. Do you have any more? If so, you might like to get involved with my photography project on childhood homes too? http://geneabailey.wordpress.com/project-i-lived-here/

    • pezcita says:

      Being part of your project sounds like fun. This house is of great significance to me because it spawned my interest in history (now acknowledged as the Great Waste of Time) and made me believe I was destined to be a comic strip artist someday (aka the Greater Waste of Time). Still, it has more happy memories than the current abode. The only photo I was able to find came from the listing, so apparently WordPress took it off for that reason. I’ll have to find another picture soon.

      • Genea Elizabeth Bailey says:

        Anything arty is never a waste of time 🙂 it’d be great if you could find another photo, if not that’s okay 😀

      • pezcita says:

        I did find two more photos and added them to the post. This time they’re of the back and side of the house, not the front. It’s more how I remember it though. I hope this helps with the project.

      • Genea Elizabeth Bailey says:

        Those are just lovely. Actually, I’ve set up a blog for the project now http://www.ilivedhere.wordpress.com – it’s easier to see what I was talking about now. If you’re still interested in taking part just let me know.

      • pezcita says:

        Yes, I am still interested in taking part! Is there anywhere I should send the pictures?

      • Genea Elizabeth Bailey says:

        Please send them to geneabailey@hotmail.co.uk along with old you address, if you’re not comfortable with sending your address, just the town/state/city will do. If you have any stories about your time there, send those too 🙂

  2. Lynn Dunn says:

    Lisa-Lynn Dunn here, Christian’s Mom. Christian showed me your blog. I AM TOTALLY IMPRESSED! Just loved the story on your childhood home. It brought tears to my eyes! I still can remember mine it was in Pheonix Arizona. It is now a parking lot:( In memory I will never forget it. Keep your blog going. THOROUGHLY ENJOYED IT!

  3. walt walker says:

    Looks like a beautiful neighborhood. Mine was not quite as nice, but at least the homes were built by different builders, which gave the neighborhood some charm. Today, one builder will buy up huge chunks of land and build lots of homes that all look alike. Ah, the good old days. I especially like the brick work on the house.

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