The House that Built Me

Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2014 01:25 am
I'll post it, but that is from a photo when my old friend took me around in 2006. The neighbor with the house showed up and was pleasant but very distant to me, some old renter. I didn't have the balls to ask of I could see. It was, of course, her house. I didn't ask to see it, I got it that she wasn't for that.

I still have dreams of there.
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Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2014 02:18 am
3728 kentucky dr rockford il was were I lived till the summer before 4th grade, if memory serves it was 690 s/ft built 1957 with 2 bed one bath. When we moved out there were three kids in the tiny second bedroom, just enough room for a bunk bed, a crib, and a dresser shoved into the closet space. The plan had been to move after kid # 2 was born, which happened 1968, but dad was a drinker and liked to treat himself. We finally moved into a bigger house in 1971, which happened only because of moms daycare business money, which she never let him forget. My best friend Johnnie Quist lived across the street, and old lady Miss Bigalow lived next door in the basement apartment in her kids house, and mom liked to dote on her. The best thing about that house was that my dad had the basement full of model trains, and had a mancave in the basement for male drinking. Fav memory is watching the Apollo 11 moon landing in the mancave on my dead great grandmothers early 1950's tv, which we had just gotten because she had just died, the only tv in the house. I was 8 years old and we finally had a TV, though we almost never got to look at it on. 2am one day I did though, mom and dad thought it was important, that history was being made, and we had to be part of it.
Peter Frouman
Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2014 05:27 am
edgarblythe wrote:

We who lived as semi nomads don't have a childhood home worthy of the name.

I can definitely relate to that. Growing up I lived in a lot of places and don't know the addresses (or even approximate locations) of most of them so finding them on Google Maps is almost impossible. For a couple years during the early 1980s, my childhood "home" was a 1957 International Harvester school bus that we lived in while roaming the country to recruit and raise funds for a secretive cult and to flee the U.S. so we would be safe from the nuclear holocaust we expected to hit North America any day.

A few years ago I went to Sicily and found the apartment in Palermo where I was born in 1975. I was the only one of my four siblings to be born at home; the rest were all born in hospitals.

We only lived there a few months before moving to South Africa so I don't really remember it but I was informed that our Children of God colony (at the time cult members referred to their communes as Colonies; later they would start calling them "Homes") occupied the entire top floor of the building and that it then consisted of two apartments.

The information I had about the location of the building was quite sketchy but after some research I was able to narrow it down to a specific block on Via Emerico Amari and finally I was able to visit Palermo with a friend to find it. After a bit of searching, we finally found the correct building and located the apartment on the top floor.


We never got past the front door.


We knocked and the door was briefly opened by an elderly woman and a bearded man whose siesta we apparently interrupted. My friend Abby explained (Abby, who learned Italian by attending operas, acted as my translator during the trip to Palermo) I was born there and asked if we could come in for a brief tour. The woman who answered the door stared at us with her mouth open for a few seconds and then said "This displeases me" before quickly shutting the door.
Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2014 05:50 am
I went to Google maps, and the house i grew up in is gone. Some other house has been built there, and there's a semi parked in the driveway. I didn't want to see any more.
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Joe Nation
Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2014 06:23 am
@Peter Frouman,
What a story, Peter, you and I haven't met, even here on A2K, so I am grateful for you sharing.

I wonder how many people do what you did, that is, go back unannounced to the house or building where they grew up after. perhaps hearing what is now the old saw about not being able to go home. Maybe it's then that they realize they were never home in that place.

Again, thanks.

Joe(please tell us more)Nation
Joe Nation
Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2014 06:44 am
Well, it's a lovely Midwestern neighborhood, Hawkeye. (Damn, I wish I had thought of using Hawkeye as my internet name. )

I know the part about crowded bedrooms. My two brothers and I were folded, and stapled into the middle bedroom. Three beds, three dressers and a homework desk.

The friends and faces that come rising up out of memory astound me. You saying the name of your best friend made my brain race back to our street corner. We'd play hide and seek in the dark of summer nights. Some of us would go out onto the ball field where there was a big black shadow thrown by the pole of the street lamp. Our rule was you had to call out the person's name when you were catching someone. If you could get to the tree, touch it and call out "One~two~three~infree" you were safe", if the IT called "One~twp~three, Hawkeye, you're IT." well, you were IT.

We would lay in that black, black shadow, motionless. The IT could see somebody was there but not who. heh heh, all us best friends, Dennis Anderson, Leon Dion, Louie Savoy, would trade shirts, just to get a little edge.

Once an IT had been caught, the old IT called ~"Ally~ally~infree" .

Joe(We'd play until we heard our mothers calling us.)Nation
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2014 06:56 am
I've thought now (NOW!) quite a bit bout "the house that built me".

When I sold it three years ago (I was just a little co-heir, but the only one living here), I had to tell dozens of people about the house's history.
And a lot of acquaintances asked me "Do you remember, Walter ..."/"Do you know that ..." - which I did. And I even could give some more detailed background to those stories.

But that was done from a certain "distance", neutrally, like writing about historic facts.

But now I think that this house really built as much or even more than what I got from my parents - because, my parents lived there as well. (Actually, my mother lived there nearly exactly 80 years - she was five, when she moved in, and 86 when she left it.)
Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2014 07:41 am
@Joe Nation,
I did it. I wanted to show my husbond and daughter the "roots" and made a small tour. First night we stayed in a hotel close to where my great grandparetns had lived. As we spoke one language between us and I spoke Danish the landlady got curios and I told her I wanted to see the house where....he had died over 100 years earlier
Oh yes I knwo. Go to the drugstore and aske forX. She knows all about the historiy of the town. We did. My great grandfather┬┤s store is now a shoestore.
We were showed around and also the apartment above. And the safe still there. From here we were sent off to the museum as they must have pictues which I did not have. Correct. Got pictures and did not even have to pay for them as I showed such interest. Museum accepted a donation.
From there to my grandfather┬┤s farm., where my father was born. They opened the door and wished us welcome and served tea and it was all very nice. Just wanted to take a look at the outside.
They again sent us off to another farm, which his brother had had. We only looked at it from outside,but were invited to come in and take a look. We had no time.
The apartment where I grew up I did not have to show to anyone as we have been there often. Friends took it over after my father passed away.
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Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2014 08:17 am
Sherman Avenue in da Bronx.

This is not exactly the way I remember it. I had a lot of fun and played a lot of games on that stoop. Loved that stoop, even if I had on roller skates. Can't beat a good stoop.

Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2014 08:49 am
I often think about the apartment we lived in in that building. Are the hooks where my baby swing hung still there? Are the dents in the molding where my mother regularly measured my height still there? Probably long gone, but there in my mind.
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Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2014 10:06 am
I'm posting a carbon copy of my very first home, as the actual one was pulled down in the early 70's and replaced by a characterless boxlike monstrosity.
This is Kings Langley Fire Station, about ten miles from where 'my' Fire Station was situated (Radlett).
My dad was a Fireman (firefighter nowadays, soooo American) for most of his working life, and was a Londoner through and through, being stationed in various locations around the City during the Blitz, according to which Station buildings survived.
At the end of the war, he was one of the Firemen who went out to train the newly fledged full time professional Fire service, and was billeted in Radlett as he had a wife and two young daughters (my sisters) as Radlett Station had the added benefit of having virtually a complete Victorian house built onto the back.
My bruvs and I came along, and we stayed there until I was about nine or ten.
Radlett was the first bit of 'country' outside London, but was still quite busy. Our tiny back garden backed straight onto the StPancras to Bedford line, affectionately known as the bedpan line.
Outside our front door was Watling Street, the main route into London. It ended up at Marble Arch, some 14 miles away. I knew it was 14 miles, as the old 'milestone' was wedged up alongside our front door frame.
At night we had express trains whistling past, goods trains which clanked for hours, and many many commuter trains.
Lorries rumbled past the front door, rattling the crockery, and at least two or three times a day (night as well) the siren went off which was followed by lots of various noises as the Pump (fire engine) was prepared and driven away.
Despite the noise and hubbub, the entire family slept like logs. When we finally moved away to a proper house which overlooked fields with munching cows, none of us could sleep as it was too quiet!

Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2014 10:12 am
@Joe Nation,
Joe Nation wrote:

You've got that right, Foofie, the part about Jean Shepherd. If you've ever watched A Christmas Story (hysterically funny) the boy's house is the single family version of our duplex.

Of course, maudlin nostalgia is an abyss, yet you ask why I didn't drag that past into the present? That's because there's many forms of looking-back that bring focus and even revelation to those looking back.

Where was your house, Foofie? Come on, let down that mask for just a bit and reveal some of your humanity.

Joe(I'd love to see it)Nation

Riverside Drive and 111th Street, until my mother couldn't afford the rent (it is now a co-op) a few years after parents separated. Then my life of downward mobility. He (father) lived well again on W. 90th. Mature, with a prior son who was in WWII. I never knew him (the father). Quite a negative impact in the days when every kid had a father present.

You have jogged past the building many times, I'd bet. It's the one that curves to the left as one looks north to Grant's Tomb. Old ladies in Riverside Park were very friendly to me. Also, the nuns in full habit, on Broadway, always gave me a smile. See how maudlin nostalgia can be an abyss?
Joe Nation
Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2014 07:35 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
now I think that this house really built as much or even more than what I got from my parents - because, my parents lived there as well. (Actually, my mother lived there nearly exactly 80 years - she was five, when she moved in, and 86 when she left it.)

It's a remarkable thing, at least in the USA, for anyone to live in one place for eighty years.

Yes, buildings.....houses....places.....impart influences upon us we aren't aware of until years have passed.

Joe(more will reveal itself as time passes.)Nation
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Joe Nation
Reply Tue 14 Jan, 2014 03:38 am
Roberta said :
I often think about the apartment we lived in in that building. Are the hooks where my baby swing hung still there? Are the dents in the molding where my mother regularly measured my height still there? Probably long gone, but there in my mind. Signature

Yeah, can't beat a good stoop and everything changes.

Things are either bigger or much smaller than I remember. Our front walk was HUGE whether I was shoveling snow or trying to ride a skate board.

(We had skateboards that were
A) A piece of 2x4 about two feet long
and B) one of my sister's skates, taken apart in the middle and nailed into place.
There was NO steering or brakes.)

I hope the dents in the molding are still there or maybe someone else is using them to compare their kiddos.

Joe("Look, Ed, she's up to the next dent.")Nation
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Joe Nation
Reply Tue 14 Jan, 2014 03:40 am
Fantastic house, great story.

Joe(what a life)Nation
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Joe Nation
Reply Tue 14 Jan, 2014 03:50 am
I always get these two mixed up:
This is NOT Grant's Tomb.

This is

The top one, for you tourists, I'm sure Foofie knows, is the Soldiers and Sailors monument at about 90th Street. There's some irony for you, Foof's dad moved from the shadow of one monument to another.

I've run by the Sailors' Monument dozens of times (my therapist's office is right around the corner and I like to run home to 186th from there.), Grant's Tomb I have only been to once.

Joe(Do you know who I found out is buried there?)Nation
Reply Tue 14 Jan, 2014 07:22 am
The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that the house didn't build me; the street did the building.

The myriad games with a piece of chalk or a ball or a rope or just a stoop. Going out to play. No appointment, no playdate, no nothing but the street. Go out and see who's around. Getting total strangers to cross you (cross the street) so you could fetch your ball. Stick ball. Punch ball. With manhole covers (sewers) for bases. The street is where I grew up. No parks. No trees. No grass. Just concrete. Smiling as I remember.

I miss the sound of kids playing in the street. I miss hearing kids yell, "Hey ma. Throw me down a nickel."

The street was an unimportant side street. The apartment was a tenement. We didn't have much. Didn't need much. I had the street.
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Reply Tue 14 Jan, 2014 04:23 pm
@Joe Nation,
I believe a photo of myself in a snow suit was at the Soldiers and Sailors monument on that stone bench portion at the base of the monument. Anyway, I don't see how anyone can confuse Grant's Tomb with anything else. Grant and his wife take up considerable room in the rotunda. I like the different flags from the armies that were in the war, from the different states.

Since you mentioned a therapist, I have read a science blurb on the net that, contrary to my opinion, "nostalgia" does make for pleasant moods. I prefer looking to the future, regardless of whether it can be thought of as good or not so good. It ain't over, till it's over, to quote some famous baseball player [Foofie had a senior moment].

It might be that you don't see nostalgia as a negative, not experiencing the drop in quality of life in Manhattan, in my opinion, since the early '50's? Right after WWII, Manhattan residents tended to be too old to have been in WWII, and the neighborhoods had a certain panache of being staid, in my opinion. There was also a cop on the beat of many avenues.

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joe 2nation
Reply Fri 30 Dec, 2022 05:52 am
This is a test to see if I am Joe Nation or Joe 2Nation in the reply.

Joe(wonders never cease)Nation
Reply Fri 30 Dec, 2022 03:54 pm
@joe 2nation,
FAWaIW, A2K status shows both of you online currently.
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