Childhood Nostalgia Crushed

Not my grandmother’s home, but very similar.

When I was born, my parents were living with my maternal grandparents in a little town called Washington, Missouri. The house, a little white clapboard two-bedroom house with one bath was my home for much of my young life. As my parents were building their own house about a half an hour away, I spent a great deal of time in that house. It was located on the corner of East Sixth Street, just across from Krog Park. I remember hearing sonic booms as a child, I remember the beauty and the wonder and the comfort that old house was for so much of my life.

My grandparents passed to the West more than ten years ago. My mother and father are also gone. At any rate, curiosity getting the best of me, I looked up my grandparents old address. I just wanted to catch one more glimpse of the house that I grew up in. Google maps virtually led me down the street. I could feel my heart pounding as I recognized other houses, I saw the edge of the park, and I could see the highway that was in front of me. A large Norway Spruce that had been there since the 1940’s was obscuring the view of where my grandparents’ house would be located.

As I neared the driveway, I saw in its place a parking lot to a medical office – and the name of my cousin, who had become a very successful surgeon. In that moment, my heart shattered. There was no semblance of the yard that had once been there with cool comfort and reassurance during the summers spent there. Gone were the maple trees, the holly bushes, the apple trees and an ancient sycamore  in the backyard that had leaves bigger than basketballs.

I hoped against hope that they were able to pick up the house and move it somewhere else. Why wouldn’t they?! It had hardwood floors, it was a  customized Sears house, for crying out loud!  At least, that is what my mother told me.  She was, I found out later in life, prone to her own special brand of embellishment.

I then came to the realization that in spite of all of the wonderful memories I had, such a house would have had a very limited appeal today, even as a rental property. The bedrooms were rather small.  There was only one bathroom. The attic that served as two other separate bedrooms separated by a bi-fold door was also a nice feature, but probably not too appealing for today’s home buyer. The kitchen was small with simple pine cabinets, no dishwasher, or any of the other modern amenities that people seem to “need” to have. The closets were small, the breezeway was a nice feature.  My sister, Julie, and I would play or color out there, particularly during the summer during thunderstorms.  The basement had been our play area as children.  However, it began to dawn on me that in spite of how special it had been to my sister and me – it wasn’t special enough even for my now-wealthy cousin who had also spent a great deal of time there as a baby to want to save it.

My heart is still at times heavy with the loss of that house to so-called progress. I wonder, however, how I would have felt if it had been saved, or rented out to other people. I’d probably be even more upset that they weren’t living up to what my memories made of it.

As sad as it is, that house still lives in my memory. I can remember the summers I spent there with my sister, Julie. About the “Playground” programs that they had at Krog Park.   I can remember what it felt like to look out onto East 6th street from my attic bedroom window and dream that I was on board a great pirate ship, sailing anywhere.  One of the large metal swings made like a stand alone porch swing would make a creaking sound that could be heard from my grandparent’s house.  Funny, I can vividly recall that sound and the sound of the snow cone man in his beat up old Chevy Impala selling snow cones out of the back of his car for all the kids in the neighborhood. Those are nice memories. And even though the house is now long gone, it still stands in a special place within my heart.

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