The old home


A recent conversation with my sister spurred me to look at the real estate listings in our old home town. The house where we grew up is on the market and I decided to see what they were asking for it. There isn’t a lot of nostalgia involved for me. I haven’t been inside of the house for decades. After our father died, our mother painted all of the interior rooms yellow and I have cheerful memories of how the house looked in those days, but by the time she sold the house, I was ready to see her responsibilities decreased and it was time to invest the resources from that house in a new home for her. Subsequent owners of the home have made changes and additions to the place. It doesn’t look at all like it did when we owned it. To begin with the house now has black siding with white trim. I can remember when the siding was white and the trim was dark green. Secondly, they have added a back porch, which was much needed in windy country with cold winters. And there is an addition off of the family room that the real estate listing calls a “hot tub room.” There was no hot tub room in my childhood home.

I was also amused to read that it has a “One care garage.” I’m not sure that a garage is the proper place to store your cares, but I do have some concern about typographical errors since I am prone to making them myself.

The original small house was built in 1911 and my parents acquired it in the 1940’s. Our father hand dug a basement underneath the existing house and had concrete walls poured to replace the old foundation. In the 1950’s they changed the roof line and opened up what had been a small attic into a second story. They did a bathroom remodel at the same time. In the 1960’s they added a family room with a fireplace to the back of the house. Our father was always designing and building things. The interior of the house featured a lot of built-in cabinets and the kitchen featured custom cabinets with a lowered section of counter for kneading bread dough. The garage had been lengthened to accommodate a larger vehicle, but still was fairly small. In 1969 our family obtained a new station wagon that was longer than the garage. Dad opened up one end of the building and added a cantilevered section to allow the car to go into the garage until the front tired touched the original foundation wall, with the hood extended over the new section. It was just enough to allow the garage door to be closed with the car inside. The result left a section of finished roof inside the garage with a new roof installed above it.

Over the years, the garage has seen more than just one care.

In front of the house is a huge Colorado blue spruce tree that towers 30 or 40 feet above the roof of the house. Somewhere we have a picture of that tree when it was shorter than my sister when she was an elementary school student.

Our parents would be amazed that the house they lived in and added to as their family grew is now on the market for more than a half million dollars. When our family sold the house, the asking price was lower than $100,000. Times change. Values change.

I’m told that the real estate market in our home town is very tight with inventory being very low. This drives prices up. We have a niece who is shopping for a home in a nearby town and so far has not been able to find any place for sale that is suitable for their family with three children.

The house was a wonderful place to grow up, but frankly, I’m glad that we no longer are responsible for it. I’m guessing that there are plenty of maintenance needs and that the quirks of a house that has seen many additions and much remodeling provide challenges for the owners.

Just purchasing a hot tub for that hot tub room could cost a pretty penny in today’s market, probably more than my parents paid for the house when they bought it. I’m not sure what other uses you can make of a hot tub room. I’ve never had one. When it gets down to 30 degrees below zero, however, I guess having an outdoor hot tub isn’t really practical.

I belong to a Facebook group where people post old pictures of our home town. I rarely look at the posts these days because most of the “old pictures” are of events and activities that took place after I moved from that town. I’ve been gone for more than 50 years. There are just a few old timers left who lived there when I did. Not too many people remember the days when our family managed the airport and ran a successful business in that town.

Looking at the real estate listing, I couldn’t help but thinking how appropriate it is that we have moved on. All of the other houses on that block have been sold multiple times since we lived there. None of them are associated with the names of the families who lived in them when we were growing up, though I can still name those families. New generations have come and gone. I can remember being a teenager and the feeling of impatience until I was able to move away from that town. I’m not sorry that I did go away to college and never returned to live. I don’t mind not being recognized when I go back to visit. For me home is not a single address, but rather the significant relationships that shape my life.

It would be nice, however, if when the house is sold this time, the new owners would be people with children. That house doesn’t need a hot tub. It needs kids who are small enough to slide down the laundry chute and hide in the cupboards under the eaves. It needs bicycles in the back yard and popsicles on the front steps in the summer.

It was a good place to grow up.

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