When I was born, my parents lived in a little four-room house that my grandfather had built in the 1930’s when someone offered to sell him a thousand board feet of wood for a thousand dollars. With that as an inventive, grandpa built this small house, much like many others he had built around our community. His uncles were carpenters, he was an electrician.
For many years, this little house was the ‘first home’ to many young married couples. It was in a neighborhood surrounded by cousins, aunts and uncles. A little stream ran behind the house. It was a safe and loving neighborhood. My grandparents ran a little country store right across the creek, which, at that time could be crossed on a board from one side to another.
If I were to write a book that told the story of everyone who had made their start, or lived in that house when thy were young, it would be a long and interesting book. I could name many families whose first and often second child was born while thy lived there. It wasn’t big, but it was not just a house, it was truly a home.
I think of all the babies who cried softly for attention in that house, the many sets of used furniture, cleaned up and decorated into a sweet and satisfying place to live. Anything from Model A’s to modern trucks have parked in that driveway. Black Heart Cherries served as delicious snacks on early summer afternoons.
My uncle next door often shared a portion of his garden to the families who lived there. He would share his knowledge of gardening and even his water from the pump he put in the creek with his neighbors.We are fresh green beans in summer and carved pumpkins at Halloween.
I moved there here when I was seven months pregnant with my first child. To come there from a lonely apartment seemed like heaven. After a short, rough marriage, I spent many lonely days and even some happy times while I lived there as a single parent of two.
I finished a 4- year University degree in three years while I worked and raised two kids as a single parent. My two cousins across the creek spend many hours at my house during the eight years that I lived there. We played loud music, card games, laughed and passed the time. My best friend and her sisters would sit on my back steps and we would teach each other songs on out guitars.
There were days in the 1970’s that I spent my time with doors jingling colored beads that hung from the doorways. Psychedelic posters, Mother Earth Magazines and children’s books shared my walls and book shelves. I proudly called myself a ‘hippie ‘. Without the details, I will soon move on. I had wicker furniture, pretty rocks, in a stack in a corner, a small black and white TV, no dryer, a hand- me- down washer and a clothes line beside the cherry tree snd flower garden. There were no extra ended or excesses.
i loved plants and one could be found in any feasible location, the floor, tables, or cabinet tops. The rooms were small, full yet cozy. I loved the claw legged bathtub and those relaxing bubble baths after an exhausting day. After I graduated from college I moved to my families” big house” which sat rather ‘ kitty corner’ from this little one. I had lived there for 8 years and for 32 more years, the story went on.
Young couples, single people, elderly widows, many more, lived in that house. A man and his mother were the last to live there. My aunt had promised her friend that she would continue to let her son, who never married, lived there after she died and both my aunts son, who inherited the house, and I, who bought a lot with both this little house and my aunt and uncles house on it, kept our word.
By the time the elderly gentleman passed away while living in the house, it had seen its better days. In fact, it had seen them long before. The floors were warped, the doors no longer shut well, all the new siding and Windows and boards on the porches did not make the house truly livable by my standards after nearly 90 years.
With a heavy heart, I decided last fall that I would have to tear the house down, it would have cost more to fix the little house than it was worth. It wasn’t easy to watch the house be demolished, but the ease with which it went down, showed me that I had made the right decision. I planted flowers and vegetables in a box garden there this spring.
There are so many memories in that little house, I remember bringing my babies home to it, the soft strum of my guitar on the porch- and the loud Lynyrd Skynyrd on the stereo. I fondly recall the meals I prepared, the friends I entertained, the tears when life was rough and the smiles when life was good.
Even though the house is no longer there, it will always be there in my mind. So many “firsts” to remember, the first steps of my oldest son and daughter, the first furniture that I bought on my own. Painting the walls, the relaxing warm baths, the poems I wrote in that bedroom and the pictures I painted in the kitchen.
It is almost always hard when a page turns in our lives. Even if what lies ahead is a bit exciting, it is a challenge to move on. I can close my eyes and see the white picket fence, the rose bush I planted when my first child was born, building snowmen with my kids, or looking out the window and seeing the first car that I bought myself.
Life goes on, through good times and bad. The ages creep in that little house just as they did with me. There is something about a place that holds so many ” firsts” that keeps it written permanently in my mind. So, it is with the little house at # 10. It is a part of my parents first years, of my own first house, and that of my first two babies.
I can close my eyes and see the basket where kittens were born, where I held my newborns, where I dreamed dreams that actually came true once in a while. Little White House, you now live only in my mind but you are part of me and I love you. I will never forget the night skies or sunrises I saw there. You will always live in my heart.