One of the best ways to get your story focused on your childhood is to think back on the house you grew up in!
Sometimes it is difficult to remember specific events in your childhood or what your parents and grandparents may have told you about their childhood years, but think about and describe the house you lived in growing up. It’s possible that you haven’t thought much about this home for many years. You will be surprised at the number of things you can remember about it, and by recalling these memories, you will begin to think about other events that happened while you lived there.
Describe the House you grew up in!
Close your eyes and walk in the front door—what do you see? What was the furniture like? Did you have rugs or wall-to-wall carpeting? I remember we had carpeting that my parents were so proud of. I think it was a green color—ugh—really! This was the early 1960s, and at least it wasn’t a deep shag. Throughout the main floor there was a living room, dining room, and a sunroom (a closed in porch) off the living room. The bedrooms were on the second floor. I never knew anything else.
About twenty years after my Mom sold that house, my brother and I stopped by and asked the owners (the same people who bought it from my Mom) if we could come in and look around. If you ever get the chance to visit your old home, stop by, ring the bell and ask to come in and look around. Usually the owners will let you. The memories will flood back.
The new owners had removed the carpeting which revealed beautiful hardwood floors. Who knew! All the hardwood trim throughout the house had also been painted by my parents. The new owners stripped that paint off and refinished the oak trim. The house looked so much better. We couldn’t believe it!
The kitchen seemed so big when we lived there, but it was really small. We had all our meals around a round oak table. The dining room was only used for special meals and Sunday dinner. No dish washer—that was a real luxury and there was no place to put it anyway. Mom did all the dishes in the sink.
Did you have a basement? If so, what was it like?
Our basement was dark and dingy. The washer and dryer was down there, and it seemed like mom and the dog were the only ones who ever went down there! There was a toilet kind of sitting up on a raised platform, no door or privacy, and my mom was the only one who ever used that. She said it was convenient when she was down there doing the wash. I only remember how we all thought that was so gross.
Did you share a bedroom with your brother or sister?
I had one younger brother (four years younger) and two younger sisters. My brother and I shared a large bedroom on the second floor. There was two bathrooms—one off my parents’ bedroom (small, but it had a shower) and a larger one that the four of us kids all shared. I think my two sisters each had their own rooms, but l think they were much smaller than the one my brother and I shared.
Our house had a third floor, an attic, which was quite large. The attic had a number of rooms and a bathroom. Since our house was built in the 1930s, the attic was for the maid’s quarters. Our maid, my mother, had her bedroom on the second floor! So, the whole attic was pretty much unused. We did store things there but basically it was empty.
My dad loved to build things, and it seemed that every Saturday we were always driving to “Channel Lumber,” the local hardware store to buy this or that, and we usually came home with some lumber. Well, my dad thought that the attic would make a great place for my brother and I to have our own bedrooms and bathroom.
So, began the construction journey that seemed to last forever as my Dad tore down the existing rooms and built the greatest hangout for my brother and I. We each had our own bedroom, shared a bathroom with a shower, and there was also a kind of living room where we could hang out with our friends.
As I write this I can remember that bathroom construction—something I haven’t thought about in years. As my dad built my brother and I put little notes into the framing, “Why are you tearing down this wall,” things like that. Remember, thinking about one thing, will bring to mind so many other memories. It will be a fun journey!
The original bathroom had a big cast-iron claw foot tub. You have probably seen them today. Everyone wants one now, but not then. It had to be removed, and it weighed a ton. My dad wanted a fiberglass shower in its place! The only way to get it out was to remove the small window and make the hole bigger in the bathroom in this third floor attic room, and lower it out the window and down to the driveway. What an undertaking, but nothing was too difficult for my dad. The day arrived to get that tub out. It was a Saturday, and all the neighbors were there watching, and I’m sure giving advice and moral support. It was successful and the tub was gone (it didn’t drop). I don’t know what happened to it—probably went to the dump!
On our visit back to the house years later, we discovered beautiful hardwood floors were under the ugly carpeting. My brother and I went up to our attic domain. It was like an episode of the “Twilight Zone.” Nothing had changed since we left—it was spooky. The new owners never went up there and had left everything exactly as we had left it!
As you write your story, or that of your parents, be sure to think back on the house you (or they) grew up in. As close your eyes and think back on house you lived in, and the memories will come back to you! These memories will also lead you to remembering the neighborhood and your childhood friends. A topic we can talk about in a future blog.
Have fun as you walk down your memory lane. Remember writing your story should be fun!