Monday, June 15, 2009

Around Town

The other night, when I first posted about our walk-about up the road and then, the next day, about how we went for a walk down the street and saw the big fat old porcupine, I had also taken a couple photos on Friday night of some of the houses along my street and I thought maybe you might enjoy seeing a little bit of the neighborhood where I live.

I've lived in this old house for most of my life. I was born in this house as a matter of fact, almost 65 years ago now. Ok, this place looked a bit different back then and when I was a child than it does today. First off, until 1991, the siding on this house was not white vinyl but rather was what was called "insulbrick" and ours was of a tan color, giving a sort or psuedo-brick look to the old place. Only what was then the sun porch (which is now my tiny bedroom) was sided with white wood siding then. But, after my son managed to catch the house on fire the end of April of 1991, and I had a lot of work done to the house then to repair the fire damage, etc., had the house been sided with the white vinyl. That is, all but one small area in the back of the house that didn't get new siding because the contractor I hired didn't calculate the cost of the siding properly and I didn't have enough money then -or since -to have that area sided too.

But besides giving some pictures of some of my neighbor's homes, I thought I would add maybe a bit of history about some of them too.

This house is up the street a little way from my place. It's currently owned by a couple who are middle-aged -a very nice couple, I might add -Woody and his wife, Cynthia. For a while, shortly after they moved in here about 3-4 years ago, Cindy was the "Avon Lady" and Mandy and I both really enjoyed having her stop by here, chatting with her, comparing notes about how she grew up and where to my life (and Mandy's too) in this little village.

Their house initially belonged to a first cousin of my Grandfather and her family. It'd kind of funny ya know, what various people when I was young were called compared to today. Mrs. Engstrom was how I knew the lady -Grandpa's cousin. I think I knew then -maybe -that her first name was Anna but I never called her anything but "Mrs. Engstrom." Now her daughters, who were my Mom's age, I was allowed to call them by their first names (Evelyn and Ethel) but their Mom -never would have happened for me to call her "Anna."

That house looked a bit different back when I was a kid too in that it didn't have that piece there along the side, jutting out. That addition was built on I think after I was an adult. I don't recall exactly when Mrs. Engstrom died, but her daughters (the two mentioned above) moved back here probably in the late 60s when they retired from jobs they'd both held for years and years in Chicago, as sales ladies.

The sisters eventually sold this house to the daughter of a neighbor down the street as they moved to a neighboring little village -Lanse -where they shared a house with their eldest sister that she and her husband had built -a very pretty little ranch house. The family who bought the house from the sisters sold it then to Woody and Cindy as they found a larger ranch type home up on the top of the hill from here.

I doubt if you can see it but Woody and Cindy have a very pretty little flower bed in the front yard, complete with a wooden figure of a woman bending over as if she were weeding the flowers.

The next house coming down the road to our place is this one.

This is my friend, Shirley's home that she shares (of course) with her husband of 50 plus years now, Bo. Originally, this was a two-story house, built probably at about the same time as the Engstrom home catty-cornered from here and as my home was built -probably circa early 1900s, I would guess.

The family who originally occupied this house was the Charles Sherman family. When I was a child, Mrs. Sherman and her sister, Katherine Gustafson, lived in New York city some place during the winter months and then, came back here where they spent their summers. Because both of these elderly ladies -about the age of my grandparents -were also good friends of the family, during the summer months, it was a very common event for us to socialize with them by going up to their house, visiting either in the front room or on their front porch, having coffee then and some kind of a sweet -cake, pie, cookies and of course, homemade Swedish Kaka bread and cheese around 9:00 p.m. after which we would then leave and walk back home. They would also come here and it was a big treat then to have them visit us as my Grandma would always make sure to have some special dessert made up for the occasion. (Often she would make what was her specialty -prune whip -which some of my cousins remember but not fondly as do I. I loved that stuff but have never found Grandma's recipe for it so I can't make it then for my family.

Shirley and Bo bought this house in the late 50s -shortly after their second son was born and they remodeled it -removing the second story of the house, building on to the side and turning it into a ranch style home. While it is not an overly large house, it was however big enough to house them and their five children over the years.

And, the youngest son of Mrs. Sherman is still living -is now, I believe 88 years old. He and his wife reside outside of York, PA -between York and the Maryland line. He keeps in contact with me -sometimes via e-mails his wife, Priscilla writes and now, frequently it is by phone calls he makes to me, usually once or twice a month, just to check in, to let me know how he and his wife are doing and to see if there's any "news" here in the old village concerning our church or people who he know years ago when he was a child and young man here. They aren't family but they are just about like family in a way in that Art and I know most of the same people from town and from around the area too. That, plus he graduated from high school from the same school building where I attended high school and went on to get a degree in teaching after WW2 was over. I really enjoy hearing from him and kind of "gossiping" too with him about how things were way back when and how things are today.

This house, which is adjacent to Shirley and Bo's place has a history which is very similar to that of Shirley and Bo's place. It too was once a two story home and boy, I wish you could have seen how the initial house that stood here looked back in the 50s when I was a kid! Definitely not like it looks today in many, many way.

Back then, it was owned by an Anderson family -and I can't remember now the names of the Andersons who owned it, who probably built it. But when I was growing up, a son of theirs -Oscar, nicknamed "Slickey," lived there by himself. He was known to be a bit of a drinker -and an old bachelor as well, so he paid very little attention to the appearance of the house, to the upkeep of it. And when he died, the house, which by then was pretty decrepit, was sold to a couple from the other end of town -Joe and Anna Kendrick Lyncha and they moved in there and raised a family of six children -three sons, three daughers -while trying to remodel and basically rebuild the old house into what you see in this picture here today.

Ann and Joe both died in the fall of 1988 -within three weeks of each other. She, of a heart attack while cleaning a local office building and he, three weeks later of lung cancer. Neither was very old then either -only in their mid-to-late 60s. Eventually the children sold the house to the couple who now own it -Regina and George -aka "Bugger" Verbitsky. They moved here from down the line aways -Snow Shoe, which is about 14 miles from here. Good neighbors they are though and the flowers out in front of their house are much the same as they were back when Ann and Joe lived there, with their family.

Back in the late 70s and 80s, when my kids were growing up, I used to tell them then that when I was their ages I knew EVERYONE along this street, including what boat their ancestors came over on too! Well, I didn't really know quite THAT much about the various families but darned near!

It wwas a totally different era back then, when I was a kid.

Most every home on this street, the family living there had children and from spring through the late fall, all the neighborhood kids were outside playing unless the weather was really miserable. That was about the only time one had a legitimate reason for being inside, playing inside one's home, watching tv during the day hours!

If it isn't too boring, I'm going to try to post pictures of the houses along my street here from time to time and a brief history too about the former occupants way back when where I can.

I started this post about 5:30 this afternoon (Monday) and now, it is 2:00 a.m. and I am just finishing it!

Why? Well, because around 7 p.m. -after supper -(which I couldn't get Kurtis to eat) I decided to try to cajole him by taking him for a walk and then, on our return home, thought maybe he would eat. But that didn't work either.

Instead, I didn't get home from our walk until almost 9:30 p.m. but Mandy and the kids were home at least an hour before me. That's because the last house down the road from ours, which used to belong to my Grandpa's brother, my great-uncle Erik, is there and the lady who currently owns that place offered a small tour of the downstairs of the house so I could see what all she and her husband have done since they bought the house -23 years ago!

And I had a wonderful, very sentimental for me, visit inside the house and talking to Jody, the current owner about what she and her husband have done, what they plan to do to the place too.

All of it will keep the house looking very much like it was when I was a child and when my cousins still lived there.

Just made me feel so good, at home, really especially in that old kitchen where I spent many, many hours as a child and also, as an adult with family there.

Good vibes, ya know!


Maggie May said...

That was a lovely tour. The houses round you look so lovely and in beautiful surroundings.
I think it is great that you were born in that lovely house 65 yrs ago.

I was born in a house miles away 67 years ago. It seemed to be the practice to have home births then. I was always in towns or cities. very different from you.

Alex the Girl said...

Like Maggie said before me, this is a wonderful tour. I call it Sunday Driving. There is nothing better, to me that is, than going tour old neighborhoods and getting a history of who lived there, what was that, and so on. I may have to take a ride back to my home town.

Sandee said...

Good vibes indeed. What a great post.

Have a terrific day. Big hug. :)

Suldog said...

First off, porcupines! I just read that and it was cool. I've always liked porcupines. I think it has something to do with The Three Stooges, as Moe sometimes called Larry "Porcupine".

Better, though, is the fact that you've lived in the same house for so long! I thought I might have held the modern record - I grew up, and lived at, the same place for my first 37 years - but you've blown me out of the water! Nice!

I would think the porcupines would all know you by now and consider you harmless :-)

terri said...

I loved the tour! Really enjoyed having a look at what you see when you walk through your neighborhood. The bits of history were fun too... a glimpse into your past. I'd love to see more of these posts!

Kanani said...

I have an old house that I bought from the original owner. I haven't made any drastic changes. I ran into him not long ago, and told him so. He was really glad. I guess it's sort of like Jody's house and you finding that old kitchen.

Anyway, thanks for commenting on my post about the mixing of religion and guns. I really appreciate it. I received not one, but two rambling emails about that. Weird.

I am in Savannah now, visiting and also sending hubby off on his deployment. We'll go back to California once we see him off! I have stupid jet lag. Ack! Hope everything else is going okay.

dr sardonicus said...

That's a neat tour of the old neighborhood. I keep saying, I hang around here long enough, I'll meet everybody in your town...