This Was The Place
Stop the presses!
A house was sold today!
Yes, I am fully aware that in city's big and small, towns, hamlets and villages, this happens countless times each and every day. So why have I deemed this one particular sale news worthy enough for the world to know? Why must every man, woman and child be informed of this earth shattering event?
Had someone famous ever lived there? Not yet.
Did a world changing event occur within it walls? Not yet.
So, why all this commotion about the fact that this house was sold? What's the importance of this one lone home?
Legitimate questions to which there are no significant answers. Outside of one family, mine, it means nothing. For us, it is very important news. A milestone was reached causing an era to end.
Once I had signed a mountain of papers “the house”, as I had come to call it these last few years, was officially sold. Prior to that, it was mom and dad's house, one they bought back in 1962. Until I was married, the only home I ever knew. I came home to a different house after being born, but this was where I grew up. Learned many things there and probably forgot almost as many.
A few years earlier, dad went into the hospital never to return to his beloved home. Never to grow his tomatoes again. Never to cut his grass. Mom had been out of the house about 15 months before her passing. In preparation to sell their home, I took about 8 months clearing it out. Evidently I was in no rush to finish. Across the street, some of dad’s old step ladders now lean against another garage. If I'd ever need to use them again, permission would first be required. Earlier this year my brother and sister took their final walk though. A few months later I did as well. This structure was the last physical remaining object of that life, that time with mom and dad. No longer would I be free to come and go again as I pleased as was done these last 55 years or more.
Within this house, mom and dad were teachers to their three children. Outside they were school teachers, one regular ed, the other special ed. I remember dad mostly as a drafting teacher but he also taught other classes such as science, metal shop and drivers ed. There were many nights I watched as he graded drafting assignments spread out upon our dinning room table. I now have that table in my house, keeping a link to that past. Mom became a special ed teacher while I was away at college. Because of this I never saw her grading or prepping at home. I did hear stories of her different students, endless paperwork and teaching aids she would create. Mom and dad touched many lives though their love of teaching. Most of their students still live in the area, some have spread to other cities and other states. I'm confident still others moved abroad. Though they were only one small part of their students total education, their presence was always carried with them.
This was the place where only dad knew how to use his very old popcorn popper and waffle maker. A time long before microwaves. This was the place I learned to ride a bike. This was the place I skinned knees and stubbed toes. This was the place I learned to ice skate on a rink dad built in the backyard. This was the place of my earliest Christmas memories. This was the place I parked my first car. This was the place I first watched hail stones bouncing among blades of grass. This was the place.
I don't remember the first time I cut its grass, but I remember the last. I don't remember the first time I raked its leaves where birch trees grew in the back and maples out front, but I remember the last. I don't remember the first time I shoveled its snow, but I remember the last. When I was very little our driveway was paved with rocks and dirt but we still had to dig it out along with the sidewalk. One summer, before I was a teenager, the driveway was paved with asphalt so shoveling it became a bit easier. Shortly after I went off to college dad bought a snow blower. I enjoyed using it during Christmas breaks. Starting this winter, clearing any snow becomes someone else’s delight. Starting next spring, mowing the yard becomes someone else’s enjoyment. After the birch leaves fall, someone else will be raking them up. I'm done, I’ve retired from those chores.
Durning many decades, our Christmas tree resided in three different places within the living room, mostly in corners. When I was very little, dad would set it upon a wooden box that maybe measured two feet tall and 2 ½ feet square. Since the living room has a 12 foot high ceiling, a 7 foot tall tree easily stood on tree stand box. Each year this box was rewrapped with new Christmas paper.
Almost halfway up the stairs that lead to our upper floor was a landing. From there the stairs turn 90 degrees and continue on up. This formed the next corner that displayed our Christmas tree. I'm not sure what happened to the tree stand box, but it was never used after moving the tree into this stairway corner. By placing our tree there, it became extremely easy to decorate the tree top and place its topper ornament. One year, a new tree topper was bought and the old one was retired. I saved it and now is proudly displayed upon my tree. Only real trees entered our home when we were young. After the last child moved out, mom and dad finally bought an artificial tree. By then a new location was in use, this time in front of a big window in the living room. This would be the final Christmas tree display location.
Upon the street in front, my bother and I would bounce our superballs in order to fly them over our two story house with it‘s silver metal roof, landing them in the backyard. That was the easy part. The trick was finding them in the backyard grass. I had trouble but the lawnmower never seemed to have any.
One day, while playing baseball in the backyard, I found a 1910 Canadian penny. I located it on the dirt spot that served as “home plate” for our small backyard baseball field. I always wanted to take a metal detector over the yard, now I guess I never will. For years I held on to that coin, only to let become lost again. When my sister’s swing set was erected, that effectively ended games being played on our field. In truth, games had ceased years before, so it was never an issue.
I had been working toward this event for months, and now it has happened. Their home, now cleared out and cleaned up, readied for its next chapter. Prepared to greet its next owners, ready to say goodbye to its current ones.
Am I sad? Yes.
Will I survive? Of course.
Do I feel a since of loss? Yes.
Mom and dad bought it for us, I sold it for them.
Shortly after signing the purchase agreement papers I needed to retrieve a few things from the garage. Pulling into the driveway, a strange feel come over me, as if I shouldn't or couldn't be here without asking for permission first.
On my way home from work the night before closing, I slowly drove by our beloved home. Thinking how this house had served our family well, but it was time to let it go, by now I was good with that. Our history lives on, our memories both good and sad, will never fade. Tonight it is still ours. Tomorrow, I will be a stranger.
Waking on day of the closing, we still owned it. By lunch we no longer would. That was such an interesting concept. In a few hours I thought, one era ends and another begins in the life of that house. This new family would take possession today so all known keys and garage door openers were to be turned over.
This was the place a veteran of World War II came to finally live. This was the place two children of the Great Depression made into their final home together. This was the place these two children, whom had lived many places growing up, were able to settle down. This was the place two teachers would raise three children. This was the place these snowbirds returned to each year. This was the place.
Now it's gone, out of the family. A new family has moved in, unpacking their boxes filled with dishes and silverware, towels and toys. Packing their clothes into its small closets. Making it a home again, their home now.
This is why I felt the need to stop the presses. To make this announcement, to tell it’s story, and give my reasons I felt it was news worthy. So please forgive me if I think the sale of this one lone house is a big deal.
Doug Thornhill (dct)