I recently came across something I wrote a few years ago about our first family home we grew up in. It was 1972 and I was just a little girl. My parents had bought their first home around the corner from the two-family home we shared with my grandparents. This was very exciting because my sister and I were going to have our own rooms. The funny thing is once we moved in, we really didn’t like to be separated, so my dad decided to knock out the wall between our rooms.
We loved that room and if you ask both of us now, we will tell you that of all the homes we lived in that room was and still is our favorite. My dad had made a little shingle awning over our closets, it looked like a little store front. Our room was painted a lilac shade with deep shag purple carpet. I’m pretty sure my sister’s obsession with the color purple started with our room.
During the holidays, my parents bought us our own little 3-foot Christmas tree and we placed it on top of our dresser. We decorated it with mini ornaments and lights and it was just perfect.
Right outside our room was the staircase. We were so excited to have an upstairs and downstairs in our new home. We were especially excited that we were able to slide down the wood banister even though my mom didn’t like us to do that. Behind the stairs on the first floor was a large (well to us it was) walk in closet. My sister and I would hide in there on occasion.
Based on the actual square footage, the house was small, but to us, it was a mansion. There was no open concept back then, so you would enter each room one after another. In what was considered the formal living room, my sister and I were never allowed to play or sit in there. The furniture was French provincial and covered in plastic covers. I never really enjoyed sitting on that furniture. It was always cold and whenever you sat on it, it would make crunchy noises every time you moved. I remember some mornings sneaking down the stairs and hiding behind the couch in the living room. I would sit there, probably only for a few minutes but felt like hours to me, listening to my parents talk and watching them eat breakfast and drink their coffee. I’m not sure they ever knew I was there, but if they did, they never mentioned it to me.
Our house had an alley along the side that was so narrow, you could barely squeeze through it to get to the yard. Luckily, we had an enclosed back porch that you could access the yard from as well. We loved having a yard to play in. It wasn’t very large, but we had a swing set and eventually a small pool. Our neighbor to the right of us had a very large overgrown garden. I remember her always wearing a kerchief on her head, glasses and dark-colored clothing. She was very nice, always smiled to us but never really had a great deal to say. She had a dog too that would lick our hands through the fence and she was always telling him to stop. She had everything in her garden from fruit and vegetables to very large sunflowers. They would be so tall and top heavy, and they always seemed to hang over our side of the yard. Even though she loved her garden, to everyone else it was a big mess.
On the left side of our home, we had two houses that shared that side of the fence. We even had a gate that could open to their yard and used it for many years fetching balls that were thrown over into their yard as well as visiting one of our favorite neighbors growing up. Her name was Stella and she lived in her home with her elderly mom we called nanny. Her mom was from Poland and we would love to listen to her speak Polish with Stella. Stella was a beer drinking, cigarette smoking, funny lady. When she laughed, it would always end in her sounding like she was coughing up a lung. Her laugh was raspy, and tears would run down her face. From the day we moved in, she quickly became a good neighbor and friend to all of us.
The other house on that side of our fence, belonged to Walter and his family. Every summer, Walter would go camping and before he left, he would put his tent up in the yard to air it out before leaving. My sister and I loved playing in that tent. We would bring our toys in the tent and to us, it was a playroom, our little house that we looked forward to seeing every year.
One year, my dad did some cement work in the yard and he had me and my sister place our hand prints in the cement with the date before it dried up. I often wonder if it is still there. Last year I tried to reach out to the current owners to ask but I never heard back from them. I was disappointed, and I hope one day I can find out. I would love to have a picture of it.
In 1978, my parents sold our home and purchased another one in the next town over. It was sad leaving that house, but we were excited about our new home too. Before we left, I decided to carve my initials in the window sill in my room. I don’t know where I came up with that idea, but from that moment on, every house we moved out of it, I always did the same thing in different places in the house.
Every now and then, I will drive by our old house and although I haven’t been in it since the day we left, I hope one day to see it again just for old times’ sake. We have moved a few times since then and each home has a special place in my heart. Last year I was so excited that one of them went on the market and they had an Open house. It was great to see it again and remember all the wonderful memories we had there.
I know everyone says you can’t go home again, but I am here to tell you, yes you can. Of course, things change but that’s part of life. If you had a chance to visit your childhood home again, would you? I’d love to hear.