Friday, February 12, 2010

Farewell old friend...

Never thought this day would arrive. My Mom's house has finally sold. It took almost 2 years to sell it, awash in a sea of foreclosed homes. It is a place we moved to when I was 5 years old. My Mom still lived there till a few years ago when too many health issues landed her in a care facility- not her own choice, but a necessary one none the less. The place is full of memories for me. When we first moved there the lot next door was an empty, grassy field, except for a garage. Our own back yard had a hand made stone bbq, and a wishing well- full sized w 2 wooden pillars and a conical roof. Over the years the wood rotted, so the roof & pillars had to go, but the stone base of the well remained-- Mom wound up using it as a giant planter. As a kid I remembered planting flowers in the yard, and when we first moved there, we saw a few wild rabbits running around in the yard. It seemed huge to me as a kid... a vast expanse of space to play & run around in. One magical winter, we had a big snowfall, a flash warm spell and then a hard freeze. Without doing a thing ourselves-- Mother Nature had created our own personal ice skating rink right in my own back yard. Of course I put on my ice skates & enjoyed the gift.

Usually, when they knew it would freeze, the local park would run a hose in the baseball field to create an ice skating place. There we could do a thing we called crack the whip.... get a chain of people holding hands & build up speed.... the end skater getting a rather wild ride.
No triple Lutz action for me... if I could just skate around & not fall, I was triumphant!
Besides it was freezing cold out there (thus the ice), so you had to bundle up, so you could stay out in it longer. Still, being able to skate in the yard was a thrill.

I remember making hop skotch boards w chalk, in the summers, and skateboards were the latest greatest thing.
Nothing like the fancy stuff they have now w shock absorbers & such. Ours were crude wooden boards with the traditional metal skate wheels on them. We would whiz back & forth on the smooth paved sidewalk in the yard. We had a pyramid staircase entrance on the side of the house, so we would go full speed ahead, to get a resounding crash into the lowest cement stair.
Oh yea, that empty lot next door was purchased & someone built a 2 story apartment there.
I remember us having our skateboarding fun, when the new neighbor opened her 2nd story window to yell as us kids to be quiet.
My Mom yelled back- We bought this house so our kids can have a yard to play in!

We'd just moved out of a 2 story apartment that her Mother had owned & lived in below us & called all the shots on.
She was free at last & not going to take it anymore. Right on Mom!
We were there first, and the new neighbor knew kids lived in the house where she chose to move in to.
Kids need to play & they sometimes make noise in the daytime, get over it!

I used to make candles in the basement. We had a home made ping pong table, and used to play no rules ping pong. My Sister & I used to go into the medicine cabinet & be mad scientists... mixing different stuff to see how it would chemically react. In my teen rebellion years, I moved up to the partially finished (but not insulated) attic. I painted it a pale yellow.
It was hot in the summer, and cold in the winter- but it was my own space. Back in the day, there was a huge crab apple tree right outside the back window.... it had beautiful blossoms on it in the spring.

Time marched on, and eventually, many of the single family, single car homes, became multiple family, multiple vehicle homes. Parking was a nightmare. Mom had a garage built.
By now, the yard was not looking so big to me, but the garage ate up most of the yard. Sentimental one, my Mom had the builder take the backhoe & move the wishing well to the corner of the grass closest to the house. The last few times I visited the house, I planted flowers in that wishing well.
As much as the garage was now a necessity, it was unattached from the house, so it was kind of a security risk. It was good Mom no longer had to scrape ice & snow off the car, or worry about the car being vandalized.... but not an optimal scenario. The neighborhood was changing.
In fact the time before last that I did visit, the neighbors had hung up their laundry on the chain link fence. (What.. too much to invest in a clothes line?) The next door neighbors had torn out the extensive flower gardens the neighbor used to have in their yard, and paved it over to park several cars in the yard. Apparently they had large gatherings with lots of Corona beer, because Mom's rose beds were full of beer bottle caps. Oh & the loud spanish music- right outside the back bedroom window. Yes, things had really changed.
Mom's flowers are still blooming, all these years later. The wishing well still holds flowers & well wishes. But the yard and those childhood memories will never be the same. You can visit on old place, but not bring it back.
I hope the house has new breath of life. I hope the new owners plant flowers in the wishing well, and that someone discovers the sheer joy and peace of sitting on the front room radiator cover on a cold winter night, in the dark & quiet, watching the beautiful snow fall under the light of the lamp post. Farewell old friend...


Christopher said...

What a bittersweet reflection on your childhood home.

Reading this blog entry I'm reminded of this:

Time it was and what a time it was it was,
A time of innocence a time of confidences.
Long ago it must be, I have a photograph,
Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you.
Simon & Garfunkel

Fran said...

It is a huge relief to have the place sold....

However, going back there was like the Smithsonian of my life.
Today I am remembering the old fuse box that used to overload when too many things were on & the toaster blew the fuse.
We'd have to go down to the basement w a flashlight to see which screw in fuse was darkened & blown & had to be replaced. That old house was built in 1926.
Years later Mom had the house rewired to current standards.... but stuff like that is coming up for me- remembering random historic tidbits about that place.

Still - selling it in this market, we took it in the shorts on a lowball price.
The GOP economic fallout-y thing is NOT working for me.

Bibliophilia In Black said...

Your mom was right to yell at the neighbor. Kids do need to be outside to play. Kids don't do that as much today as they used to, hence the childhood obesity rate.

nonnie9999 said...

what a lovely reminiscence, fran. i have tears in my eyes.

D.K. Raed said...

a beautiful walk down memory lane! may the old house's new owners appreciate the wishing well and have some spunky kids to liven it up again!

love the "home made" ice rink tale. I remember "crack the whip" but living in the desert SW, we did it in a parking lot on roller skates.

Fran said...

I remember being on cloud 9 ~ I'm going ice skating-- in the back yard!
Funny how when I was small, the yard seemed so big. I don't remember them building the 2 story apartment next to our house (the construction), but I do remember the brick walls are so close, that with the introduction of the superball, we were able to bounce them between the 2 buildings, with a good hard toss.
We used the stairs to have the slinky "walk" down stairs as well. A deluge of memories

D.K. Raed said...

the house one grows up in is really like an old friend, who seemed so much larger in youth, now reduced and aged, but still producing a lot of memories.

think how lucky you were to have one house to house all those memories! lots of families today are moving so often, I wonder how disjointed their kids memories will be.

D.K. Raed said...

oh! christopher's citation and your post/memories brought this to mind:

"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven" -- penned by William Wordsworth.

Spadoman said...

Looks like my old neighborhood, the one I grew up in. As you know, I was back there recently and will make a few more trips to organize things at Mom's apartment. I'll have to drive over to the old neighborhood and have a look around. This made me remember a lot of stuff. Good stuff.


Mauigirl said...

What a beautiful post about your childhood home.