As children our surroundings seem bigger than life. Things tower above us. My memories hold many of those shadowy giants. Each time I have the opportunity to return to my old neighborhood it’s such a revelation, to see how small everything actually is. I’m surprised to see the houses and especially our front yard.
A very special old house stood at the head of the road. It had been the home place of my Dad, his parents, and older brothers. Dad grew up there, when it served as a working farm. He told me stories of Grandma fixing big meals for them and their hired hands. In my earliest memories I visited Grandma and Grandpa in the big old house. Shortly after, they moved from there to live with my aunt and uncle in a smaller house on the corner. The old house featured very large rooms, both upstairs and down, and wonderful porches. An open porch wrapped all around the front and one side of the house. A big screened sun porch faced the highway from upstairs.
If this were the end of my attraction to this big house it would still be special, but the story continues. My best childhood friend made the old house her home on a couple of occasions. Her family owned the local gas station and at times she lived in a smaller home at the side of the service station. The years she spent in the big house were exciting. We played in the large closets and slept on the sun porch during hot summer nights. Her parents even transformed an old hen house into a playhouse. Together we walked the long upstairs hallway. The long stairs felt the pitter-patter of our feet.
Years passed and new owners turned the structure into an apartment house. I would visit the newest occupants in this strangely familiar setting. Under new paint and paneling, there stood that same old home place. I married and moved out of the state. During returning trips to visit my parents I felt the warmth of that old house again. My younger sister married and lived in one of the apartments with her husband and little boy. My feet again walked the floors of this historic house.
My latest update on the big old house brings sadness. On vacation last summer we drove through my old stomping ground. When we viewed the house it almost took my breath away. Signs indicated it might be close to destruction. It looked very much like homes all across America, neglected, run down, and no longer safe. So, the next time I drive through that area I am prepared to see a vacant lot, or maybe a newly constructed house. Things change and people change, but they can’t take away my memories. We have all heard the expression, if those walls could talk… I wonder what stories that old house could have shared. Maybe it would reveal stories of my Dad’s childhood pranks and laughter, or secrets of two school girl chums.