Friday, June 18, 2010

This Old House

This is the house my mom lived in for most of her childhood. It's on a little butt-end of Portis Avenue, south of Tower Grove Park.

I have fond memories of this place—Christmas Eves in my early childhood, Easter egg hunts in the backyard, riding my Big Wheel up and down the sidewalk, eating cookies in the living room while watching Scooby Doo. On the second floor, my mom's siblings had affixed room numbers to the lintels, thus naming the rooms 201, 203, 205, etc. There was a balcony off one of the second-floor bedrooms. It used to open onto a staircase that would lead to the backyard, but at some point that was torn down, so the balcony, which had no railing (and was in fact never accessible in my experience) looked out on a sheer drop.

Living in a ranch house in the suburbs, this house was magical to me as a child—partly because I loved my grandma (who lived here, with grandpa) so much, but also simply because of the architecture and atmosphere of the place. It looks pretty shabby now (and was probably pretty shabby back then, too—my mom once told me how ashamed she was of the place when she was growing up), but to me back then it possessed a grandeur that couldn't be found where I lived.

I was impressed by its age. My mom told me one time that the house had actually been moved from another location, which seems a bit unlikely to me now. She also told me that it used to be a two-family dwelling but was renovated for single-family use. I was impressed by its height—four stories, from its dank basement to its mysterious attic, which I never got to explore until my grandpa died (I was about 10; my grandma had died a few years earlier) and my parents and aunts and uncles were cleaning it out and preparing to sell it.

Its location is so out of the way that there's never any reason to drive past it. Yet every once in a while I'll ride my bike over there to take a look at how it's holding up, and to remind myself of the past.

1 comment:

framiko said...

I sent this post to my cousin Brian, probably the only other person in the world who remembers this house in the same way I do. Here were his memories:

when i'm reading a story i always use this house as the basis for my imagination... i'll adjust the layout to accomodate the story up until the point where i have no choice but to abandon it all together and build a new house from scratch.

so to me... this is harry potters house, clark kents house, the house for the magicians nephew in chronicles of narnia, pennywise the clown lives in the sewer out front...

i've got it with green carpet and the long heavy wood entertainment center w/ built in record player in the living room... there's a glass bowl of brach's mints/butterschotch on the coffee table... maybe a small bowl of radishes on the table... and there's a brown cookie jar forever in the kitchen window sill.

the front porch in this pic is lookin a bit too nice for my taste. needs plenty of weathering and a nice coat of lead paint if you want my opinion.

i don't think i'd dare go back in it as an adult for fear of recognizing it for what it actually is vs. how i have it in my mind from an 8yr olds perspective... it was huge.