Friday, July 20, 2007

My Childhood Home

Me, Laura & Christine, in front of our house

We moved from Illinois to Tucson, Arizona in the summer of 1976, when I turned three years old. Grandma Mary, my mom's mom, had lived there for a few years and we stayed with her until my parents bought the three bedroom house on Towner Street.

Turning '3' at Gramma Mary's House

Exercises with Gramma

The Interior
Mommy and Daddy made a pretty, cozy, 1970's home. Each room was painted a different color that was no doubt inspired by the times. We had a lime green living room; a yellow kitchen with an orange vinyl diner booth; yellow, pink and orange bedrooms; and a bathroom wallpapered in bamboo with orange beaded window treatments. The best thing about the bathroom, hands down, was the toilet seat cover that was the color of golden-rod with a picture of an owl on the inside lid. My mom collected owls at the time and they were everywhere! We used to play 'Bloody Mary' in the bathroom mirror with the lights off. We also used it to make 'The Haunted House of Horrors', where we tape recorded SCARY sounds and screams, then guide one another through.

Carving Pumpkins

That's me in The Bamboo Bathroom

Despite disciplinary actions, my sisters and I were notorious for leaving chewed gum on tables, not putting our dishes away and spilling various dark juices just about everywhere, including behind end tables and couches. In order to protect the carpeting we had large, shag area rugs in the colors of rust-brown and lime green. Lime green was apparently a popular shade back then.
We were not a family that ate at the dinner table. Instead, we would all park ourselves in front of the television to watch holiday claymation shows and the annual broadcast of 'The Wizard of Oz'. My parents & Grandma Marcy sat in their respective recliners and the girls on the shag carpets with our TV trays.
Grandma Marcy, my dad's mom, used to fly out during the fall and we got to keep her all through the holidays! She was an expert crocheter, UNO player, puzzler and cookie maker. Peanut butter and "Melting Moments" were her forte, as I recall. After my parents bought their own chairs, she had dibs on the olive green, rocking recliner with the vibrating back massager. We used to sit in her lap and she'd do "the spider" and we'd play with the "worms" on her hands. I loved rocking in that chair with her.

Christine and Gramma Marcy in the chair

My dad and us in the chair

Gramma Marcy in the kitchen

We were left in Gramma Marcy's charge when my parents went to work. Me and my sisters would stand on the couch in the front window and wave to my parents when they left in the morning. The big blue Chevy Impala would back down the driveway, pull out into the street and they would honk at us waving, smiling kids. Every morning she would have breakfast on the table. To my mother's disdain, Gramma would pour our cereal, sprinkle the sugar and pour the milk. She would also pick up after us, make our beds and give us pretty much what we wanted. She spoiled us rotten and made us lazier children, in the eyes of my mom. Don't get me wrong, Gramma could put her foot down when she needed to but this is how I choose to remember it.
Our dining room & living room have hosted many holiday meals, birthday parties and sleep overs. They have doubled as a stage for dance routines, plays, magic shows and housed blanket forts. Our dining room table was where we would play Trivia and help Gramma with her puzzles.

The Nativity Scene, 1978

Birthday Sleep-over, 1985

Our bedroom saw many changes through childhood and adolescence. Laura, being the oldest, had her own room (the pink one). Christine and I shared. It was a love-hate relationship between two girls, only eleven months apart. My parents painted it yellow and decorated it in a Raggedy Ann motif. There were two poodle lamps that changed colors whenever the walls got a new coat of paint.
I recall a few broken windows (I'll have to ask C about the details, but there was a rubber alligator involved), playing tennis with apples against the wall and a Bandaid that stayed stuck to the ceiling for at least 10 years.

Our room.

Laura moved out after high school and Christine and I immediately moved into separate rooms. This didn't last very long and crisis struck the household when Laura decided to move back in. There was no way either of us were giving up our own room. The solution? We moved all three beds into one room and everything else to the other, dubbed 'the hole'. This was where I sat to listen to music and do my homework in High School. It was also where most of my friends snuck in to visit 'after hours'. The arrangement worked out pretty well and we lived this way in relative harmony until Laura got married and moved out. I was so sad that day. I laid on the couch in 'the hole' and cried. I was sad because she wasn't just moving out, she was moving to California. My big sister would be so far away.
But, just like everything else, life moved on and Christine and I had our rooms back.

Our Backyard
Our backyard was a haven for little kids. The tree house was its best feature. My sisters and friends played up there and in the sandbox beneath it, slid down the 'fireman's pole' and pushed each other on the swing. The mulberry tree that it lived in would shed its leaves every fall. We would rake them up and jump in them until they were spread over the yard again. Once, Christine was running in the tree house and fell through the trap door (see 'Walking Catastropies' picture below).

Us Three In the Tree

Daddy also put up a swing set for us. This was not your average backyard, chinsey, plastic swing-set. It was big, heavy, metal and looked like something you'd find in a school playground. Or maybe I was just little and it seemed big. Anyway, one day, I decided I wanted to swing by my legs from the very top. Of course, down I came, face first. It's amazing that, to this day, I have not broken my head or any bones (*knocking on wood right now*). Again... see "Walking Catastropies" picture below.
I believe that Laura got beamed in the chin with a soccer ball. Just look at us. Is it really less stressful to have three girls rather than three boys? I wonder.

"Walking Catastrophies"

When we first moved in, there was no pool and would walk to Ft. Lowell Park to swim in the community pool. Later, my parents installed an above ground swimming pool in the shape of a circle. At birthday parties, my sister and friends would all swim in the same direction to make a whirlpool and then let the water carry us around and watch whatever dirt/grass/bugs there were gather in the center. Marco Polo was also a favorite past time but the 'fish out of water' part was a bit difficult. I recall, a few times, standing on that teetery white ledge and toppling over onto to the grass/gravel and laughing the whole time.

In the pool. In Daddy's socks.

Warming up in Gramma's afghan.

The yard started off pretty barren. Lots of gravel, dirt, prickly pear. My parents worked hard to make it look lovely and inviting. My mom has always had a way with Things Green and produced a wonderful garden. She had a grapevine, that yielded laundry baskets full. We harvested olives from the trees in the front yard. Strawberries, tomatoes, watermelons were some of my favorite things. She also grew things I did not particularly like to eat; like dill, zucchini and cauliflower. Check this out:

The Green Thumb, My Mom

During my teenage years, certain friends and I would be overcome by springtime and find it impossible to stay at school. We would come back home after lunch, swim in the pool and sunbathe on the roof. By that time, the mulberry tree had died and the treehouse taken down. I remembered I cried the day my dad took a chainsaw to it, telling us it was just unsafe and unsightly to keep. New trees went up in its place and have since grown into canopies that give us shade when we sit outside, watch basketball games and have BBQ's.
I guess that I am lucky because my parents still live in the same house that me and my sisters grew up in. Even now, when I visit and sleep in my room (now the sewing room) I feel the comfort I did as a kid. I hear the rain on the roof, the click the heater makes when it turns on in the middle of the night or the smell of the swamp cooler. The door way where we marked everybody's height through the years (family, friends, boyfriends, etc.) is still there and is the only part of the wall by the kitchen that did not get a new coat of paint during the remodel. Thanks, Mommy and Daddy.

The house looks a bit different now but continues to overflow with new memories. It still has the same red fence, two big olive trees and gravel driveway out front. Now, my parents wave as I drive away. I honk my horn, wave back and tear up a little each time I go.


*** If you want to participate, please visit Owlhaven, and leave a link to your post. I'd love to learn about the childhood homes that shaped who you are today.


Lyndy said...

What great memories. Thanks so much for sharing.

Have a blessed weekend.


Jenni said...

I have so many memories in your childhood home. The ducks, Mickey and Maude, taking over your pool and turning it into a pond; the piece of cheese found under your bed that was so hard we thought it was a yellow square of plastic; cooking colored pancakes in your kitchen; your gramma jamming her fist into the middle of our backs to make us sit up straight. :) Good times!

I didn't know about you guys swimming in the pool in your dad's socks though. What, pray tell, was the reason behind that little display?

Sandi said...

I'm glad Jenni mentioned the ducks! I never met them personally, but certainly heard stories. And then there was the guy in the wash that you and Jenni ran into......

Rebekah said...

So many wonderful memories. Enjoyed my visit

Owlhaven said...

Grear pix! Thanks for sharing


Diane said...

I came over to see your SPF Rainbow pictures (even tho I haven't played for months), stayed to read awhile, and found this one--complete with comment from Mary at Owlhaven.

Small (blog) World--Mary is on my Bookmarks, and I read every day and have friends who are going to adopt from Ethiopia because I sent 'em to Owlhaven.

Your childhood home looked like it provided some nice memories.


kathy said...

Thanks Diane for stopping by and for the comments.
Jenni and Sandi- I came so close to putting up a picture of Micki and Maude. Maybe for another post?
Thanks, Mary, for such an awesome post-a-thon. : )