"Describe your childhood home. What are some of the details that stand out the most? What made your home different from your friends' homes?"a couple of weeks ago and used that picture of them in front of their home. My grandfather Monroe, on the far left, was killed in traffic in 1930, so this may be 1928 or 1929. My grandmother Inez is standing beside him, with their children lined up according to age:
The four siblings on the back row, left to right, are Chandler, Paul, Bonnie, and Howard. Coming back from right to left are Mark, Wylee, Mildred (my mother), and Allen beside their mother.
|Click to enlarge the photo|
Eventually, Bonnie sold the house and moved in with me and my children on Signal Mountain in 1973. We'd built a basement apartment for my husband's parents, but after we divorced, my mother-in-law chose to move out, even though I assured her I wasn't divorcing HER. (My father-in-law had died several years earlier.) Being there after her son moved out was awkward for her, so I understood. When I invited my mother, it was time for Bonnie to quit living alone, too. Born in 1904, she was 13 years older than her little sister. The two of them shared the apartment in my basement, using twin beds that once belonged to Mark's children (the tall brother on the right end). Those twin beds are probably as old as I am (80 in April), and I sleep on one of them now in St. Louis. (The mattress is much newer, of course, and I'm ready to replace it again.)
coal stove that vented through the fireplace and the coal shuttle that was beside the stove. I learned to play the upright piano in that living room, which looked very much like the photo at the top of an antique piano I found online. There was a dining room open at an angle from the living room, a pantry closet out the other door, and an eat-in-kitchen beyond that. There was a screened-in porch between the kitchen and one of the bedrooms that I considered a shortcut, at least in the warm months.
In the back yard were a plum tree I could climb, a detached garage with a place to store coal on one side, hyacinths beside my sandbox, a rock garden, a flower bed enclosed by a row of bricks, forsythia ... lots of flowering things planted by my grandmother, in other words. We moved away from there in 1949, shortly before I turned nine years old. What I remember best are the growing things and playing that piano. I still take sheets of music downstairs to one of the two pianos here in the Crown Center and try to remind my fingers how to play. Would you like to hear a cat play the piano?
I don't remember much about homes of friends. (I haven't been a child since the 1940s and early 1950s, after all). But looking back now, I don't remember pianos in the houses of my friends, and I think we had more flowers and flowering trees than anyone else in the neighborhood. Interesting.