January 19, 2007
Isn’t this a cute little house? My grandfather and his brothers built it. My grandparents came to the United States from Germany in their 20′s. Back then, this house was on a street with lots of vacant lots and open spaces. In fact, there was a farm nearby. Now? It’s on a highly desirable street, surrounded by many other highly desirable streets, in a highly desirable town. My grandparents lived there for 60+ years. I have pictures of myself there as a baby, and pictures of my kids there as babies. See that front porch? We spent hours playing on the front porch, making up games and stories and plays. (Note – this was before 24 hour tv, video games, computers, etc.) Inside the house, there are arches between the rooms, there are solid wooden doors with glass handles, there are stained glass windows on either side of the fireplace, there is ugly tile in the bathroom. The house has had two owners since my grandfather moved out several years ago. He lived there alone after my grandmother passed away, and he has since passed away as well. The subsequent owners made changes to the house. Got rid of the radiators – good call. Got rid of the big porcelain kitchen sink – bad call. Opened up the staircase – good call. Pulled out all the beautiful bushes in the front and my grandma’s lilacs – bad call. The house has just been sold again, and we have learned that it will be torn down and a new, bigger house built in its place. sigh.
I understand. I’m sad, but I understand. When you drive down that street now, there are many many lots where the old “small” house has been taken down and a bigger house put up. The problem is the lots themselves. They’re huge and deep – the way lots were back when all you had all around you was land. People come in and think the land (on the desirable street in the desirable town) is wasted with the small house sitting on it. I can’t blame the new owner – they don’t have an emotional attachment to that little house. I met with the gal who purchased the house last week. She’s as kind as they come. She must have apologized a half a dozen times for taking the house down. In fact, she has restored several houses and totally appreciates the historical perspective. They’re building the new house for themselves. They’re keeping the beautiful 50+ yr. old trees in the huge backyard. I like knowing that the land will be inhabited by a young family and I look forward to seeing what they build. She was having a renovator come in that afternoon to see what could be dismantled and salvaged, but first she let me come in to see if I wanted anything. I bought doors. I thought I was going to just buy the front door (a big, heavy, great door with a stained glass window that has been painted an ugly color in the interim. I’ll have to strip it.) As I walked through the empty house, I started looking at the bedroom doors. Solid wood, glass handles (how many times did my grandma and grandpa turn those handles in the 60 years they lived there?) Two of them have frosted windows in the top of the door. They’re really wonderful doors. I got to thinking that it would be neat to replace the doors to our bedrooms with those doors. So …. I bought 4 doors AND the front door. Did I measure to make sure they’d fit? Nope. I have so much faith in Wonder Husband’s carpentry skills. I am just sure he will love having “fit antique doors to our bedrooms” and “re-do front entry to make that old door our new front door” on his To Do List. Just sure of it. And the nice new owner? She gave me such a bargain on the doors. She said, “I’m not out to make money on anyone’s memories.” I loved her for that. I think my grandparents would get a kick out of knowing I was moving their doors to my house. I can’t wait to have them in place.
It got me to thinking about the things in our grandparents homes or childhood homes that we have special memories of. I remember a wonderful claw-foot bathtub in my other grandparents house. And of course I have special things that have been passed on to me from both sets of grandparents, which I treasure. I have a friend who made a “Treasures” scrapbook album of just these things – pictures of meaningful things and the memories written down that went with them. I’ve always thought I wanted to do an album like that. So here is the contest. Leave a comment on something special that you remember about your grandparents/childhood house (or someone who was special to you in your childhood), OR something that you treasure that has been passed on to you from grandparents. I will randomly pick someone to win the “Loopy Loot” prize of the month. I’ll announce the winner next Friday, so you have a week to leave comments. I will love reading these comments and hearing about your memories!