my childhood home

I got the call from the realtor this morning as I drove up I-17 to Phoenix. My parent’s home will finally be listed for sale this Saturday. The realtor and I exchanged a few words, shared a few laughs then hung up. Since 2008, the succession of my parents’ home has been caught up in complicated family issues. Part of me feels relieved that we’ve finally reached this point, and yet another part of me feels a great sense of loss. There’s just something about saying good-bye to the house you grew up in when there are so many memories attached. It was a small brown and white house in a subdivision called, Sun City. The streets were named after planets and most families in the neighborhood at that time were military ones. Everyone knew each other, and it felt like a real community.

I remember the first time we visited the home. My parents were so excited about purchasing a brand new house after having lived on the military base at Barksdale for some time. It must have been around 1971 – Brady Bunch era – and homes were still being constructed in the subdivision. I remember wiggling my toes through the lime green shag carpet and turning cartwheels in the wide-open space of the family room. Out back, there was a patio and yard large enough to fit a swimming pool and swing set. The family room walls were wood-paneled, and the marbled formica countertops in the kitchen matched the lime green carpet. Not real stylish by today’s standards. Down the long hallway were three bedrooms. It wasn’t a very big house, but big enough for a family of three and house pets.

After settling in, my parents had a swimming pool built in the backyard. The sound of drills and other motorized equipment woke me up in the mornings, and I’d stand on my bed to peer out the window inspecting the daily progress. It was like waiting for Christmas, and I eagerly anticipated the day that I could finally go swimming. When, at last, that day arrived, I got into the poo and fearfully clung to the edge for weeks. My mom immediately signed me up for swim lessons at the local YMCA, which fixed my fear of water pretty quick. Soon I was swimming like a little fish. My dad used to throw me up in the air like a cannonball while Mom lounged and watched us from a fold up lawn chair, the kind that left crisscrosses on the backs of your legs. In addition to swimming, I also spent a lot of evenings playing in the front yard with all the other kids from the neighborhood when it was still safe to do so. We’d play swing the statue, red rover, and red light/green light until the sun began to fade and our moms called us back in for the night. What good times those were!

My dad loved gardening and planted a large garden full of vegetables in the backyard behind the pool. We had fresh cucumbers, okra, tomatoes and zucchini. My mom liked to make homemade ice cream with fresh peaches. I’d watch her pour the rock salt into the ice cream machine and then peer through the plastic top as the mixing arm swirled the ice cream  around. In the mornings, I got used to waking up to the rumble of B-52’s revving up their engines at Barksdale Air Force Base. It grew to be a comfort. I walked to Sun City Elementary School every morning and back home every afternoon with my niece or a friend unless it was too rainy or cold outside.

My parents owned that house for 37 years. The next time I visit Louisiana, the house will belong to a new owner. For memory’s sake, I’ll take a spin down Pluto Drive just to check it out. I’ve heard that childhood homes don’t hold up to the memory once it passes on to new homeowners. Strangers remodel, the appearance changes, and the warm feelings you’d expect to emerge somehow don’t. Hmm…I wonder? In any case, I spent most of my childhood in that old house. I don’t think I could ever forget that.

6 thoughts on “my childhood home

  1. quinntessentiallyme

    What a great walk down memory lane and through the old neighborhoods. It’s really wonderful that we all share so many memories together. I lived in Shady Grove but the ditch was directly behind our house, which divided Shady Grove and Sun City.

    It’s not easy to sell a family home and I have no doubt you’ll revisit quite a few memories, in the process.

    I could actually see you growing up, experiencing all those childhood memories. This was a special moment, thank you for sharing it.

    Monica

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  2. Carole Ann Kaplan

    Beth and Randy, you are right about Marijane’s writing about her childhood home conjuring up memories for us all. That’s what a good writier does…touch the sensitive part of humanity that makes us all one. I am so glad you are all blogging. Your art never disappoints me. You are amazing….all of you. Okay, I’ll put it out there….I’m one proud “mother” of MWAM. xo

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  3. Carole Ann Kaplan

    I took a deep breath after I read your post on your memories of your family home. Your writing reminded me of the home where I was born in a small town in north Louisiana. I keep a picture of that little house in my bedroom as a reminder of gentler times. Childhoods are, for the most part, a blend of happy and sad memories. As I grow older, I like to remember the happy times, the times when as a little girl I ran barefoot through the hot summer sand as it scorched my feet, rode my blue bicycle all over town because that’s what we could do back then, spent time lying on my back watching the clouds make shapes as only clouds can do on a steamy hot north Louisiana day. You remember, don’t you?

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    1. jazzygirl29

      I do indeed! It warms my heart to share these memories with all of you. It makes it extra special because we all grew up somewhere in Louisiana and share common experiences. It sure is fun to reminisce.

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  4. Beth

    What a wonderful tribute to your childhood. I share some of these memories with you. The wonderful community. Swimming in your pool. Your mom sitting in her lawn chair watching. Red Rover, red light/green light, and mother may I in the front yard. Yes, those were good times indeed.

    What are you listing the house for? My son just got approved for a home loan and is starting to look for a house here. He can’t afford a lot and one that needs a little work might be right up his alley.

    It is hard to say goodbye to a childhood home. My daughter bought my parents house from my dad after my mother died and I’m not sure it hasn’t been harder watching her change the house to fit herself than it would’ve been if a stranger bought it. But like you said I am a memory keeper and I continue to pass on to my kids the importance of home and family. 🙂

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  5. Randy Heinitz

    How great when memories intertwine. Your vivid description takes me back as well. It’s so easy to visualize the world you grew up in and it’s so easy to recall that shade of green!

    I grew up in a subdivision not too far from Sun City called Bellaire. We lived at 1505 Holiday Place and it will always remain my childhood home even though we lived in others. I too remember the rumble of the B-52’s and you are so right – that sound did grow to become a comfort.

    When I’m back in Louisiana I drive by the house and although it’s very different today I enjoy seeing what it has become. Thank you for writing this and sharing your memories so I could conjure some up of my own.

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