As I write, my mom and dad are "camping out" in their new home, a condo in Ellicott City, MD. They have installed a phone line, but they can't yet unpack because the condo -- a short sale -- hasn't been settled on yet.
I guess it still hasn't hit me that I won't be seeing the old house or neighborhood in Baltimore anytime soon. I paid a last visit in October to the house . . . and, of course, to Mom and Dad, which I certainly hope won't be my last visit to them!
Now this is neither the house nor the neighborhood I grew up in. The six of us (excluding my two older siblings) moved to Westgate-Ten Hills in West Baltimore in 1984 from Belair-Edison in East Baltimore to be closer to members of the Lamb of God Community. I have written extensively on this blog (although not extensively enough) about the problems with LOG, but residents were actually glad we LOG members were there, as our increased presence stabilized the neighborhood and helped bolster property values for many years.
Although not a huge house, it had a lot of character, and even more so after Mom and Dad used massive amounts of elbow grease to strip and stain the woodwork. I remember helping Dad build what would be my basement bedroom for four years, although we would later learn it was illegal because there was no way to get outside other than the stairs. I know I would never have gotten through the small transom-type windows, and that was when I weighed a lot less than I do now! The bathroom underneath the front porch had a shower, but it was always susceptible to mold and eventually wasn't used. The hot water faucet on the sink never worked. When it rained any appreciable amount, the bathroom would flood; before the remnants of Hurricane Gloria passed through in 1985, we just picked up the carpet in advance.
I cannot count how many times I hit my head on the basement ceiling as I came up the stairs toward the kitchen. Otherwise, I might be 6'2" today.
I recall many a summer afternoon on the side porch falling asleep on our old wood-frame sofa while watching baseball or golf. The azaleas around the porch were especially colorful in spring.
I was the lawn mower during my time at the house, as my brothers weren't yet big enough to do so. The yard was a decent but manageable size, but what I had to watch out for was underground bee hives. I can't count how many times I got stung in the leg or ankle as a result.
The only thing I didn't like about the kitchen was its size; it was a mob scene when we were all trying to clean up after a family dinner. That's when we guys would sneak out and watch football.
We had a huge attic that was perfect for storing all sorts of stuff, although negotiating it up the foldaway stairs wasn't easy. That's where my old varsity jacket, my bowling trophies, and 8mm movies resided for many years, even after I moved out. Many of those movies were of the "magic act" variety, inspired by my cousin Steve who did those with his high school friends long before video cameras were commonplace.
I'm surprised my mom and dad were able to negotiate the stairs for as long as they did; they were quite steep. They won't have to worry about that now in their new condo.
I only lived there for four years before moving out on my own, but it was the site of many family dinners for birthdays and holidays. Thanks for the memories.