Monday, June 20, 2011

Take a good look around

Photos from my hometown.

Home 1965 - 1984.
(It didn't have the swing with the pool in front and the garage door was a garage door)
Sometimes I shared a room with my sister. That's it - the window on the far left.
A visit home with MathMan. My brother lays across the porch.
It's hard to remember him with hair.
circa 1990
I loved that front porch.
Except for that idiotic goose and its ribbon around its neck.
My mother got eyebrow deep into that horrid faux country look.
First it was faux colonial with cheap bedwarmers hung on the wall and eagles.
And there was the Dutch Modern Incident.
My father never bought furniture again without consulting Mother.
And then came the mid 80s with its geese and pineapples in wishy washy peaches, mauve and dusty blue.
 Thank god for Martha Steward who pulled middle America out of that home decor nightmare.
Faux country decor made me long for the avocado green and gold appliances of the 1970s.
Celadon green was the cure.

When I lived there it was called Pavy's Hardware. 
Mr. Pavy's wife and daughter never drove.
They rode their bikes with baskets on front all through the town.
Mrs. Pavy wore cat eye glasses and the daughter had long dark hair.
 Today the building houses an arts center.
That seems right to me.
My friend Craig, who later became a great photographer in his own right, 
took a photo of me standing against that wall.
That was 1985. Long before digital photography.
It was my first introduction to what one could do with black and white.

The streets where we ran wild and free down by the river. 
This was in the dark ages before helicopter parents and
P.R. campaigns about stranger danger.
If anyone was buggering you, you were probably related to them
or knew them.
Sadly, nothing has changed, just the displaced fear of people we don't know.

The library where I checked out my very first book I Want to Be A Beauty Operator.
And lots of Bobsey Twins, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and also discovered the magic of Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Sidney Sheldon and Danielle Steele.
Thank you, Andrew Carnegie, for giving even those of us in tiny towns the gift of the public library.

MathMan and I tried moving to Rising Sun once, but it didn't work out.
This would have been our house if we'd stayed and our place in Illinois had sold.
This house was once a girls' school dormitory.
The attic rooms on the 3rd floor still showed signs of a fire that happened around the turn of the century.
Mark this as regret #4,678 - the expired real estate contract.

Down below town. The bridge I jumped from.
That is not a metaphor. I really was that stupid.

When I say the word home, it's hard to know what I mean. It might mean Rising Sun, Indiana. It might mean Chicago and its suburbs. It might mean the middle of nowhere, Georgia. It might mean my family.

What feels like home to you?


  1. I don't know. I feel a little like a tree out of water lately. I guess the rituals of home (cooking, laundry, making tea, cuddling children) speak to me most.

  2. I still feel "at home" at my parents house - but home is my house right now. I also feel comfortable in my "old stomping grounds" of which there are three areas of town, Edina/Southdale, Grand Avenue and DT Mpls.

  3. This is a question I ask myself every time I've moved. And amazingly, it's not my home town, it's not where I raised my children. It's not even the United States. It seems to be wherever I end up and nest a little. I feel fortunate for that.

  4. I'm way too sentimental and nostalgic about old homes and old haunts. I still do drive-by stalking of my childhood home, and I get misty-eyed about any college bar in which I drank a few beers.

  5. I have moved so much --- and moved a ton as a kid, too --- that home has always been mysterious for me. I used to be so jealous of people who grew up in one house, left home, and went back to visit their parents ... in the same house. Imagine!

    Only in the last 2 years has "home" come to mean the town in Missouri that I call home. It has taken me decades, but I take a deep breath in these days when I drive into town. The landscape, the way the grass smells, the humidity, the familiar turns and buildings and friends. It is only now, with no parents and a family who barely speaks anymore, have I come to realize what my home is. And was. It's not 100% peaceful yet, but it's getting there.

  6. First of all, Lisa, it might please you to know that I had Mary Chapin Carpenter running through my head as I read this. The last 3 books I've read -- Olive Kitteridge, A World Lost (by Wendell Berry), and Population:485 (Didn't Doug read that last year?) are all about that sense of place/home, so I was already composing a *gasp* blog post/book review on the subject. Anyway, because I only left Madison for brief interludes, home is definitely here where I spent my salad days. I guess it's partly the memories that make it home and partly the level of comfort I feel here, the familiarity, the common language we old timers speak when we remember Winky the Elephant or ice skating at Vilas Park. Lately "home" has also come to mean my home state -- Wisconsin -- which is being squeezed by evil vipers who seem to have no love for either the land or the people …

  7. What a lovely peep into your world! I love that porch. What I would give for that porch!

    I never thought of myself as the nostalgic type but since my mom died, I've become misty eyed for past experiences and past haunts. As you well know, MacDougal Street will always be my home. I'm so resentful that I can't afford to live there anymore!

  8. I'm almost embarrassed to say my parent's is where I feel most at home - I feel like I should 'man up'!

    Seriously, when my Mum presses a 50p piece into my daughter's hand it reminds me of when my grandmother used to do the same with me. Gives me a sense of continuity and community and just a tiny bit of stability in my wobbly world :-)

  9. The older we get, the more wonderful the past seems. IT'S A TRICK THAT AGING PLAYS ON US!!

  10. Wait... ^You jumped off of a perfectly good bridge??? No bungie? No parachute? Just jumped?

  11. The first answer that came to mind was this one.


  12. I have been thinking about this and really have no idea where home is.
    Maybe it's because I want to move and can't.

    I love that hardware store building. It's exactly the sort of building where we should set up our writer's colony.

  13. Great trip down memory lane. And I share your love of libraries - always enjoyed going to our school library and our town library and checking out all those great books as a kid. I read all the same ones you did! Also A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle, another favorite. As for home...I usually think of it as where I am now; but I also think of our cabin in the Adirondacks as home...and sometimes Cape Cod even though I've never lived there. Places I feel a real connection to I guess. It's an interesting question. I have a friend who's from Newfoundland, and even though she's lived in the States for almost 30 years, she always calls Newfoundland home.

  14. Oh we moved around so much when I was a child, nowhere really strikes me as home from that era. My mother's summer cottage is the only place that feels like home in Canada. I'm still growing into England feeling like home...

  15. Jumping off bridges into water was another thing kids did before helicopter parents. Usually kids would be told things like, "If you break your leg, don't come running to me!!"

    The picture at the bottom of my blog shows what feels like home to me. I have come full circle, born here and been around the country and am now back again. Don't know if I'll do another go-around or not!!

  16. This was just an extra swanky post.

  17. Great post! I love the nostalgic feeling it evokes, and "the Dutch Modern Incident" -- that sentence made me laugh. I'm home right now, I guess, having had my LA address longer than any other. And I've got two clients with the word Home in their names. Damn, I owe them work, and I'd rather be tripping about the blogosphere!

  18. The Lotus Avenue house in Chicago is where I grew up. I remember the big crab apple tree & it's springtime blossoms. When skateboards came out we used to zip up & back on the backyard sidewalk & have a satisfying run that ended into smacking the board into the cement stairs.
    In my rebellious teen years, I moved up into the semi finished attic. By semi finished I mean it was cold in the winter & hot in the summer but it was MY domain. I decided to paint the walls yellow.
    It had lots of surface & I was painting it with a brush... my best friend came over & said what the hell are you doing? You need a frickin roller! Thank you Rhoda.... you saved my ass repeatedly over the years.
    So many memories there. Mom had to go into memory care & my Sister & I had to dismantle the house we moved into when I was 5 years old. It was sad because we were taking it apart as if Mom had died, but she was still with us, sort of. I lost it when I was clearing out her clothes closet. It literally was the fabric of her life. She was a professional admin assistant & had lots of work clothes. I had to ask how many different colors & patterns of blazers can one person have? I had a good cry during that project.
    Later Mom told me she had money stashed in a pocket of one of those blazers (depression era thing). Well I hope someone @ St. Vinnies found it & put it to good use.

    The neighborhood had changed so much over the years. The new neighbors had Corona beer bottle lids all over Moms rose beds, and hung laundry to dry on the chain link fence. I refrained from asking them to go ahead & make the investment of a clothes line.
    They probably would not hear me over the extremely loud Mexican music blaring blaring outside a bedroom window anyway.
    Having to sweep up broken glass beer bottles from the front of the house repeatedly made it easier to let go of the house.

    So many changes happened there.
    Good thing walls can't talk!

  19. Oh yeah, so many homes. Even now -- although we've been here over 14 years and it has evolved into a cozy home and certainly my kids must consider it their childhood home -- I don't cleave unto it, or hold it sacred. I can imagine leaving and living somewhere else. Weird.

  20. Like others here, I've moved so much it's hard to say. When I go back to the Adirondacks I get a little burst of energy. Mountains center me. But the town itself and the people don't evoke much emotion. I thought this house was home until I moved away. I've reconnected a bit since being back, but it's not the same. Thankfully, my kids think of it as home. At least they have that.

  21. I feel at home at home. Wanna come over?

    You must explain "Dutch Modern Incident."

  22. I loved this trip down your memory lane, Lisa. For me, home is confined to the four walls in which my people live. My mom's house, mine, my sister's.

    My mom has a knack for taking possession of her space, wherever that may be. Last year, the whole crew took a vacation together in a house she'd rented for the month. The first thing she did upon arrival was rearrange the furniture and redistribute the reading lamps. And the place was immediately much better.

    I do wish she'd leave my kitchen alone, though.


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