The year was 1954. It was in Detroit, Michigan.
I remember this home with love. It was a large home directly across from the elementary school. My brother and sister already went to this school and I definitely remember the excitement I felt knowing that I, too, would get to go there very soon. I walked with my mother across the street every day to pick them up and I felt like soon I would join the club.
Our house was a very large home with many rooms and an attic than ran the entire length of the house. There was a big old staircase in one of the rooms that lead up to the attic. We were allowed to play up there so my girlfriend Lauren and I spent almost every day playing-out adventures, playing hide and seek, and dressing in old clothes found in big trunks.
There were stacks of boxes, suitcases filled with dresses, hat racks and shoe racks. There was a large full-length mirror leaning against the wall so we were always able to check our outfits. I remember having tea parties up there. If this attic could talk it would tell of the many hours that filled our imagination and how completely, the giggles of two little girls echoed in the walls.
The basement was also a destination of fun. There was a big dark room that held coal for the furnace. There was a small window where a truck could come and dump the coal into this bin. This room was a dark scary place that we would run past in order to get to another small room that was only big enough for a mattress on the floor. We had many books piled on the mattress and we loved to lay around and read our books in there. It felt like a clubhouse.
In the basement there was a wringer washing machine. We spent many hours playing bank and passing our play money through the wringer, passing it from one person to another. There was also a laundry shoot where the dirty clothing would be dropped from upstairs, down the shoot and into a large laundry basket.
Under the staircase, my younger sister and I would drape a blanket to cover the entrance and pretend that it was our house. We would sneak upstairs and take one of the kitchen drawers and slide it perfectly into place under the bottom stair. This would be our food locker. We’d fill it with slices of bread or cookies or what ever else we could pilfer without being noticed. Oh, that basement filled our imagination.
Our kitchen was a large room that taught is about working together. My brother and two sisters and I formed an assembly line each night and did the dinner dishes. Don would wash, Sharon would dry, she’d hand the dish off to Jan, and she’d hand it to me and I’d put it on the counter. Mom would then put it up where it belonged. I have fond memories of that time we spent together learning to work as a team.
In that same kitchen I remember bobbing for apples in a big galvanized tub. I mostly remember all the laughter in that room.
Our dining room was a large room with shiny wooden floors. There were two built-in cabinets with glass doors on them, one on each side of the room. Mom kept all of her very special dishes and crystal on display. We loved to look at all the pretty things behind glass and were taught that we were never allowed to open the doors.
There was a large wooden buffet along one wall that stored all the fancy dishes we used for holidays and special parties. A lovely white doily ran the length of the buffet. On top stood a big opened bible on a stand, surrounded by two large bunches of purple flowers from our yard. The whole middle of the room was filled with a huge table surrounded by twelve chairs. I can still see the giant turkey that sat in the middle, all golden brown.
Grandma would come from the nursing home that she lived in and sit with us for all our holiday meals. I remember dad leading our prayers and giving thanks around that table.
Our living room had a big stone fireplace. We all loved to sit around and watch the fire burn as dad told stories. Mom would bath us after dinner and send us one by one out to dad on the sofa. We’d listen to the story as we waited for the next sibling to arrive in their pajamas.
Mom would take all the laces out of our shoes, scrub them and line them up on the window sill to dry for the next day. After that mom met us in the living room and combed our hair and tied it in rags or pin curls so we would all be nice and curly by morning. By the time she was done with all of that, the stories were about finished and it was time for bed.
This house has so many good memories. If the house itself could talk it would say that love lived here.
Gail Earl is a member of the writing class at Norwalk Senior Center.