Friday, February 18, 2011

House Roots

Julie & Me on Audubon Rd
Have you ever gone back & looked at the homes you grew up in?  Curious to what they look like now?  Did they seemed so big when you were young, and now you realize how tiny they were?

Some people are able to know what the home they grew up in is like because perhaps their parents still live there.  Or maybe they still live there.

In years past, while I was a Realtor, I did "look" at a few of my "growing up" homes via the internet when they were listed, but never actually walked through one.

Lately, I have been thinking about them.  What if we stayed here or there? Would things have been different? Would I have taken different paths? 

The four homes my parents had during my childhood were close in location. I went to one school for Kindergarten and 1st grade, then stayed in the same school district for the other two.

I remember all but one. The first home I lived in, I was quite young when we moved and much was happening in our lives that caused us to not have many photographs. I know the name of the street but do not know the exact address.

I google mapped th remaining three and zoomed in (such a creeper!).

This first one is sad... The house has been in ruins and someone has recently bought it and has repaired it.
Windsor Drive
When I lived here as a little girl, I remember shrubs in the front of the porch giving it much privacy, and the most beautiful Iris'. I imagine that is why I favor them so much. Mom's were so lovely. This tiny hill seemed huge as a little girl. The drive way was dangerously steep & my folks walked our tricycles down it for us. A large tree sat in the side yard, where I learned to climb trees. My parents made this house a home of love. Mom babysat children here, my Sis & I had double birthday parties, we always had fun. It was a wonderful home.

Audubon Road
My parents moved us to this home the summer before starting second grade. Excitedly, my Sister and I embraced our beautiful home, new neighborhood and new school. Shortly after moving here, my Grandmother Mellie, moved in with us. (I had my own room for about a year, then happily moved in with my Sis...she probably wasn't as excited). That was home for just three years. Unfortunately, not a lot of great memories there.

19th Street
This was home. This is where we moved while in fourth grade. I lived here until I moved out on my own. This was the neighborhood house. My Mom found it when Julie was at a slumber party around the block. My Sister and I were always spending the nights over in this neighborhood. This house had 5 bedrooms believe it or not. Two upstairs, and three in the basement. Over the years, I moved through 4 of them! In high school, I had the rooms above the garage. (Imagine me climbing out that window, up to the top, where I sat many nights to think, pray, and just have some air. I also may have gone over the other side & down the awning to "escape" a few times...shhh!)  My parents kept this house for many years after Julie & I moved out, later downsizing to a one story home.

After I moved out, I lived in many, many homes. A dormitory during college, a few apartments and duplexes until my life began with Sergio.

Sergio was smart with house purchasing and together we worked our way through 10 homes in 25 years! Amazingly, we stayed in one home for 10 while the girls went through most of their school years.

We were fortunate with the housing market. We lived in wonderful homes. My girls, particularly through their school years, had the best neighborhood, pools, basketball court, cul-de-sac, and tons of neighborhood kids to play with.

While I love the house we currently live in, I know, we will move again. We hope to move just one, maybe two more times. This time we are considering going further. We want beaches or mountains. It's a big move. I want to be in a location that my kids will want to come often. I hate the thought of being away from, but I know they are only beginning their own adventures of adulthood.

I am not so sentimental to houses. It's the memories which were formed there. I take them with me. Any house can be a home. It's our job to make it that. I wonder what it would be to let my roots go deep and stay put, but we are so content with pulling them up and re-potting them to new soil.

Now, what about you and your roots?


AmyAmyAmy said...

I know deep roots, my mom has been in the same wonderful house for 47 years. I love it. The down side is all the stuff you accumulate.

ellen abbott said...

I've been by the house I was born into and lived in until I was about 6 several times but not recently. The house I grew up in in a wonderful secluded wooded neighborhood and lived in til I moved out has been torn down and a multi-story office building now stands there. The area went commercial. After that I lived in a detached carriage house apartment and two houses one of which has been torn down, for a year each. Then I lived with my parents again in their new house for about two years until I bought my house that I lived in and raised my kids in for 35 years. We still have this house but don't live in it have bought and moved to the country house a couple of years ago.

Anonymous said...

Strange how you just did a very reflective post, and so did I, only very different to yours!
I don't remember the first place we lived in, but we left it when I was a few months old. I remember the second home in East Yorkshire, which we shared with my Welsh grandmother, where my mother went out to work and my father back to college for a few years. We then moved across country to Lancashire, to a small fishing town, to a flat with huge windows overlooking the beach, then to a house round the corner, sharing a large Edwardian house just five minutes from my school, the school I stayed at from aged four to fifteen. Not in the same house though. We then moved to our very own place, a third floor flat overlooking the wild Irish Sea, fields with horses, a golf course. We stayed there for five years, then my parents bought their very first real house, inland a few miles in a small town, and here I stayed until I left at 21 with my new husband. I have been back to look at all, none of them have changed except for the third floor flat, for the whole area had been flattened for redevelopment and I didn't want to see it.
In my married life - two marriages as my first husband collapsed and died just five years after we married - ie forty years, I have moved a dozen times, which may not seem much, but out of that forty years, the last twenty have been spent in this one little old house of ours, which we love and won't leave until carried out probably! I once moved twice within two months, so am pretty adept at the old packing up and moving lark, and loved it, the thrill of going somewhere new to explore. I do miss the sea though, and would love a house with a view of it, and the ability to walk out the door and be on the beach within minutes, instead of which it's a fifteen minute drive. Which isn't much, but there is always a part of us which wants something else/more/better, don't you think?

JC said...

I grew up in a small house on Monroe Street. Moved in 2nd grade to the house I would live in for what seemed like forever. We sold that house after M & D past away.

They both, in my memories, seemed huge but in reality were not.

I don't live in the same town or area that I grew up in.

My kids have lived in three homes. This one since they were 2 and 5 .. so their memories will be of just this one house.

I'm currently moving to our vacation home. The plan is to totally retire there.

Anonymous said...


Another excellent post, thanks.

I lived in two houses growing up--one until I was three (barely remembered), the second from three until I left for college (though I still spent summers there until I joined the service). My father passed away during hospice care in that house, and my younger sister lived there a number of years after my parents were gone, after having moved in to help take care of them.

My kids grew up knowing that house on our family vacations--three big spruce trees planted in a triangle in the front made a natural 'fort' for their imaginations. They still talk about that. I saw that house most recently about two years ago while in town during the holidays; the house and whole neighborhood seem different now--older, a little run down, a little less hopeful, somehow.

Since being in the service, I (or my family and I) have lived in 14 different homes in six different states, none for more than five years. I have also been a geographic bachelor twice, once for a year, and just recently, for almost three.

Because I've seen both long-term stability and a vagabond's life, here's what I think: the place itself (the walls, brick, mortar, wood) gets meaning over time because of the memories which become attached to it. But what makes the house a home, is the family that lives in it, and the love, laughter, the experiences, and the spirit that they share while living there. That's the important part...without all that, it's just another building.

Linda said...

Are you reading my mind, Janis? LOL :)

I have a big story coming about this soon... in March, after Dad and I go back to our old home place in Bourbonnais. It's no longer a home - it hasn't been for 39 years. It's in a commercial district and they built onto the original property. Just this week, I emailed every single business in that property in hopes of finding a contact - telling them our story - how my Dad and his family built that original portion of the building in 1949, sharing pictures and would you know that almost every single person emailed me back and they were so very kind and interested in everything. There are lot of sentimental people out there. I'm glad.

So... in early March, Dad and I are going there and the actual Building Owner is giving us a private tour of everything. It's going to be amazing - even though I know, none of the inside will be the same. Still. It gives me chills to think that I'll step back into our old home place after 39 years. I remember EVERYTHING about that home from birth to age 7. It's incredible that I have such detailed memories.

As to our other family home - there were only 2 for me - the one in Bourbonnais and the one in Orland Park. My sisters and I still hold very dear memories for the house in Orland and we've gone back a couple of times and were invited in. The funny thing is that they had my Mom's same custom drapes hanging in the living room, the last time we were there. It looked virtually unchanged.

You don't have to ask as you know that I am extremely sentimental about ALL things of the past. In fact so much so, it haunts me at times.


dopenbri said...

My son will come home from the army in October, he has been gone for two years in South Korea. I wonder what he will say he was born and grew up in the same house for 23 years. But we sold it to down size for just me and my husband. We have been married for 31 years and have only lived in 4 places. Our house now is the 4th house, were we will retired in. We don't like all that moving stuff.

janis said...

I am LOVING these comments!
Amy~ I have always loved your family home. So many high school memories there!
Ellen~ That is sad that your childhood neighborhood is gone. I still visit many in our old neighborhood. Love going back.
Maggie~ I just read your post..yes we are both on the same path. Interesting you had a Grandmother live with you as well.
JC~ I am anxious to read more about your new adventures once you get moved. Hubby & I want to have a vacation type home to retire in.
Anonymous~ Thank you! I very much agree, its the family that makes the house a home!
Linda~We often seem to be thinking about the same things, even when our opinions are different. I so value you & your perspectives! I think that is wonderful that you have gotten such a warm response & are taking your Dad to revisit. Cant wait to read more when you return! Makes for a wonderful post!

I could have gone on and on. I feared my post was too long so I TRIED to be brief.

janis said...

Lee~ You must have been sending me the comment at the same time I was commenting! Im so glad your son is returning! Been keeping him in prayers. You & David 31 years? Gosh...I remember your wedding. You were my first friend to marry & I was dirt poor in college. I got you guys a card but couldnt get a gift & felt soooo bad about it! Funny it still bothers me. I need to get ou one! lol

Mark Pressley said...

"The House that built me"

I have been by a few times and have taken each of my kids but it has been a long while.

Nothing there but memorys

Ziongirl said...

I live so far away from any of my childhood homes but went back 11yrs. ago when my dad passed away and at the time my old farm had only the ole windmill still standing. It was very very sad. I am grateful for the memories in my heart and my mind.

What a beautiful piece you wrote. I loved it and loved that it stirred my memories to the surface.
Brooke ♥

Bee Lady said...

Love this post. It's brought back some wonderful childhood memories. We moved to Kokomo when I was 5 and we lived in the same small ranch style home until I was 21. It was home. I go look at it often as I still live here. I love that house. I always will. I had a wonderful childhood.

Cindy Bee

Bee Lady said...

Hey Janis,

I saw your comment on Pammy Sue's blog. I just wanted to tell you that she crochets, but if you want to learn to knit, head up to Westfield to a place called Stitches and Scones. It's smaller and they are very helpful and friendly and they have a website with the classes listed. I think you'd like it. They probably teach crochet too. DO IT GIRLFRIEND! You'll love it.

Cindy Bee