Monday, July 11, 2005


It sat across the street from the High School, where my father's office was located. He was, first, Superintendant of Schools, then District Superintendant. We weren't allowed to buy the house, but we had to pay rent for the twenty years my parents lived there until they bought their own home at the edge of town. By then, the School Board no longer required that the Superintendant be within 'slingshot length' of one of the schools.

My room was the upstairs one over the porch and my friends and I would climb out through the side window at night and lie on that slant, staring at the stars and dreaming of our lives when we grew up.

a thousand
diamonds to chose from...
midnight sky

Question for my readers. Did you grow up in one house or many? What do you remember most about the house that felt most like home? In mine, a closet was located on the upstairs landing just before the left-hand ninety degree turn to the last three steps to the upper floor. The closet door was just below waist high for an adult. The only way to get into the closet was literally to crawl in, since there was no way to add stairs in such a small location.


tammy said...

I grew up in the same house. My father bought the house when I was 2 years old and he finally sold it two years ago (I'm 30 now). I spent most of my time in the backyard. The backyard was an infinite playground. I knew every rock in the ground and the way my feet would sound on the differing terrain (moss, or leaves or grass). There was an old, ominous looking tree in the very back of the yard. The trunk rose out of the ground and split into two halves. I used to pretend so many things with that tree - it was the window in the living room of my house; it was the cauldron for my witch's brew; it was the control panel of my spaceship. As a teenager I spent most of my time in my bedroom. I remember venturing out into the backyard on occasion to relive some of my childhood memories. I remember thinking how small the yard seemed and how the tree didn't appear to be so ominous anymore. My dad sold the house to another family. I hope the children enjoy that backyard as much as I did.

Pris said...

What a lovely story! We had a chinaberry tree in our backyard. When I was still in gradeschool, my cat, Muff, was hit by a car. We buried her under that tree, along with a funeral service. Many years later, when my father was dying, the teenager who had also grown up in that house, asked if I'd like to come over and go inside again. While visiting, she happened to mention she'd been 'excavating' years earlier and dug up the remains of a cat. She showed me where. It had to have been Muff.


Lyle Daggett said...

We moved several times during the first eight years of my life -- Pennsylvania (where I was born), north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota; Davenport, Iowa; each time moving back to Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh area) in between. When I was five we moved to Minneapolis (where I still live), then when I was eight my parents bought a house here.

The house faced west, and was across the street from a large cemetery -- a corner of the cemetery, so no grave markers visible from the house, just a grove of pines and firs and birches planted there. For ten years my room was the front bedroom, and I grew up with a view of sunsets over the trees in the cemetery in northern light. To this day, when I use the word "bright" in something I'm writing, one of the things I see is evening light above the tops of the pine trees.

The bathroom door didn't fit quite right, so although the latch didn't work, it would stick firmly and reliably in the doorframe when you shut the door. (It still does.) The porches were screened (a necessity here in the land of moquitos) and the back porch was large enough for a full size bed and a family size table for meals. (During warm weather anyway. In the winter the porch became extra freezer space.)

The front porch also had room for a small bed or cot, and during warm weather sometimes I would sleep there. Again, it had screens.

The living room, dining room, and front hallway had (besides large picture windows) smaller high-up windows with beveled glass prisms cut into them so the sunlight would make rainbows on the floors and walls.

When we first moved in, the house had just three electrical circuits -- really just two, because one was mostly taken up by the thermostat -- and a fusebox (not circuit breakers). If you ran two appliances at once -- the toaster and the vacuum cleaner, the washing machine and the steam iron -- it usually would blow a fuse.

The house is still owned by a family member. I live not too far from it, and manage to get over there from time to time.

By the way, Pris, thanks for your comment in my blog, and for adding my blog to your links list. (I've added yours to my links as well.)

Pris said...

Hi Lyle
So many memories attached to your home, too. The light made me think of the second house my parents lived in. They built it just outside of our small town so there were fields on each side and a pecan grove along the back. Since I always went back for visits, a ritual soon became going outside at sunset to watch the sun drop behind that pecan grove. I still have way more photos of those trees than I can ever use, but they'll always remind me of the essence of what I call home.

Thanks for posting your story.

Annie said...

I grew up in a big, old farmhouse, full of nooks and crannies and special, secret places. I was afraid to pass the door leading to the attic; I was certain there were creatures of every description luking behind it waiting to drag me to the outer limits. In order to get to my grandmother's room, which was a must, I had to pass that door so I did it at a full gallop.
Nanny's room was papered with yellow roses and smelled like spicy pomanders she kept in her drawers. It was always cool, even on the hottest August days. She had a walk-in closet that was dim and mysterious and perfect for reading or hiding or dreaming. The house was sold when I was 18 and to this day, when I dream of home, it's that farmhouse that I dream of.

Pris said...

Isn't it amazing that where we grew up always seems to feel like home, no matter how long it's been? The hall from den/bottom bedroom to kitchen had a bend in it where an ironing board could be let down into a little ironing area. When I was young, I was convinced a donkey lived in that corner, just ready to kick me with his hind legs when I went by if the lights were dim :-) I always took a deep breath and raced by, preferring the light to early morning or night to travel that route.

Berenice said...

Ah...nostalgia time. I can indulge...

I grew up in one of those lovely, British, timber/asbestos (God forbid!!) post-war prefab bungalows. The bedrooms were damp. I can still see the mattresses drying out in front of the little black stove. The little black stove had a fire-guard, behind which us juvenile delinquents would play at being monkeys in the zoo.

We had a canal at the foot of the garden, and chickens at the entrance. I had a scraggy black and white hen called Scratchy. When I first saw a home-hen-laid egg I was yolk!! Now I crave such eggs.

One horrific morning I woke to a burning and banging world outside. The tannery, about half a mile away, was on fire. My brother came running into my room, terrified. We huddled together in my bed and debated as to whether this was war.

We had adjoining bedrooms, my brother and I, and would talk until told to be quiet and go to sleep. I would sing him songs...usually hymns. And we would tell stories and act out plays in the darkness.

I loved that house, home for my first twelve years. Partly built by my grandfather and great-grandfather, haunted by the ghost of my then (no idea if she is today...she'd be 105 if she was!)still alive great aunt Murphy Carter (relative by marriage to that Tutankhamun's Tomb discovering explorer. It was cast in the mould of British thrown up for the bombed out citizens homes. I loved it and was not aware until a long time after.

It has gone now...but still I wander through it in sleeping dreams and memories. The the Papercourt Canal...

B xx

ps: Thank you Pris for allowing me to ramble on ;-)

Pris said...

Hi B
I never got a notification of this comment. I love your story, too. The dampness...the little black stove...the stories.... And what a shame the house is gone!

Berenice said...

If that house were still around it would be folk museum material, due to it's significance in British history and architecture...but for that fact of the asbestos walls. Amazing what one survives in childhood!! B xx

Pris said...

That IS amazing!