Sunday, September 27, 2015

This old house

One of our local columnists just published an article about her late parents, and the house that she grew up in.

Even though the house no longer exists (it was flattened by a bull dozer in August of this year) she still feels a strong attachment to it. The attachment, of course, is not to the building itself, but to the memories that are tied to it.

I spent the first 3 years of my life living at 958 McLean Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota, an old house that DOES still exist (and can be viewed on Google Maps) but I have virtually no memories of the place.

When my mother became pregnant with my sister in the summer of 1949, the folks realized that they were going to need a larger house, and they started searching for a replacement home. When my sister was less than six months old, they moved into an expansion bungalow at 2059 E. Third Street on the east side of St. Paul. Although dad’s mortgage on the place was only $7000, at a 4% interest rate, he was terrified of being in debt, and the house was paid for in full eight years later.

I lived in that house for a large part of the next 22 years, and moved out for good when I got married. Both of my maternal grandparents died in the house, and so did my dad. Mom lived there for a few years after dad’s passing, but her doctor recommended selling it in the spring of 1997 due to her increasingly frail condition, and her time on earth came to an end less than a year later.

Although the house is now more than 70 years old, it’s STILL an attractive house, and it would be right at home in any small town in America. If you would like to see it, just click on the link below:

2059 E. Third

I haven’t set foot in the house on Third Street for nearly 20 years, but I still have a lot of memories of the place, and could still provide a lot of details about its history to anyone who is interested.

Sharon’s ties to her childhood home were severed by a process known as “eminent domain”. Her large and spacious home on Benson Street was in the path of the city’s Shepherd Road expansion, which caused the family to move to a replacement home on the east side of St. Paul, a very convenient six blocks from my home at 2059 E. Third.

When you look at pictures today of 1708 Conway, you’ll realize that it was actually a fairly tiny home, but somehow it was large enough for a family of 5 to live in.

1708 Conway Street

There’s an old saying that nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be, and that same sense of fondness for things of the past also applies to the houses that we used to live in. There’s even a Welsh word for the phenomenon (hiraeth) that has no direct translation into English.

Tomorrow night is the next full moon of the year, and it also is the next total lunar eclipse, an event that is a very rare occurrence. The resulting “blood moon” will provide a little magic for the folks who stay up to watch, and it also provides a GREAT time for reminiscing about the past - starting with all those old houses.

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