I don’t know how I happened upon it, but I did. As so often happens, I was probably happily tapping away on my laptop when something of totally zero relevance caught my eye, and like a skiff catching an enticing breeze, hove to and followed it. But breezes are fickle, as is my thought process, so it wasn’t long before I was looking at a picture of the house at 30 Westley St. It’s the house where I grew up.
If the picture had been presented to me instead of me personally pursuing it, I may not have recognized it at first. It has to be over 100 years old now and has never looked better. But even in it’s new wardrobe, I still see yesterday. We lived on the driveway side of the house and our landlord lived on the other. I can’t tell if those are the original cedar shakes or not. Probably not. Ours were stained a brown color and brought no character to the aesthetics of the house.
My brother and I slept in the bedroom at the front of the house. I don’t remember the two windows in the middle over the porch. That is where the attic stairs were, the entry door being next to my bed. How my imagination would conjure up all manner of monsters creeping down those stairs with every mysterious creak.
The driveway was just gravel then, and the double garage was shrouded in vintage aluminum with swinging double doors, which, as I remember didn’t ‘swing’ at all. But it posed no problem as we didn’t own a car. It obviously fell down or was torn down and replaced by the one we see today. The porch looks pretty much the same. I remember coming home with my first, much perused copy of a girly magazine and hiding it under that porch until I could sneak it in the house. The front yard, where the little tree is today, was occupied by a huge oak tree with multiple above ground roots that were lifting the sidewalk and consuming the entire space.
Those little cellar windows peeking out of the foundation reminded me of my first cigarettes. I would sneak one of my dad’s and go down into the cellar to smoke it, standing by the little window nearest the front of the house, blowing the smoke out through it. My dad had an old overcoat hanging down there that was never worn. I would hide the spent cigarette butts in the pockets. I forgot about them. I was grown and in the Air Force before they moved. I’m sure they discovered them, although it was never mentioned.
In addition to this picture of the exterior, there were also several displaying the rooms as well. That scary attic is now a finished living area. The retrofit has been so complete that it was not always possible to determine where in the house the pictures had been taken. Needless to say, the old black stove, monitor top refrigerator, and wringer washer are long gone.
I marvel at this restoration, akin to the Phoenix rising from the ashes. She is again a stately lady who has seen and most surely will see other little boys playing in the yard, and looking out the windows that once were mine. Perhaps sitting on the porch as I did, looking for the next thing to explore or just get into. It isn’t my house anymore. Too much time and too many years have changed all that. But at least we have both survived, the house better then I apparently. And, although it is no longer the house that I grew up in, where most of the attributes are now gone, it is nice to know that the memories are still there, perhaps waiting for that little boy to come and get them.
P.S. The house today has a listing value of $1.2 million.