Saturday, January 6, 2018

Amazing what you find on the Internet

I think my parents are the best parents you could ever have.  I'm sure that's a biased opinion, but it's mine.  I never believed they were perfect, nor believed they had to be.  It's enough that they tried to be good parents for our sake, rather than their own.  Still, they did have some quirks I wish they didn't.

One of the things they did, that if I could go back in time I'd slap them over, was a tendency to move.  I mean, move needlessly.  It wasn't because of jobs.  My Dad was a railroad engineer and seldom lived in the same town where he worked.   Nor was it for schools.  I grew up and stayed in the same school district for my whole life.

They just moved.  For reasons they never really articulated.  I think my Dad, who grew up dirt poor in the Depression, was just happy to have the money.  I think they tended to talk themselves into moving, and often sold their homes faster than they found ones they wanted.  That means they often settled for houses they didn't really want, which ended up leading them to - you guessed it - move.

When you're a kid, it's about the neighborhood.  Even if you go to the same school, it's the neighborhood that defines the friends, especially in such a small school and community.  Due to the constant moving, I was that kid who, already born to parents from out of town, never settled in with one set of friends.  Hence my tendency to be somewhat introspective and introverted (which has been interpreted by some as being a bit offish).

Nonetheless, one time my parents did it right.  We moved out of town to a small house that was really nothing.  My parents didn't like it, I couldn't stand it.  There were no kids around.  There was nothing to do.  It was just me finding ways to keep busy.  My sister, who was almost 9 years my senior, and who had little to do with me anyway, was in high school, driving, and going about her business.

So after barely a year, we moved again.  Because my Dad was such a handy man and inevitably fixed his houses up better than he found them, we usually sold them quickly.  This time, however, they decided to rent a house, allowing for more time to choose.  So we moved back into town in the summer of 1976.  A few months later, we found out we  were moving again.

This time it was to be the final move.  And when I saw it, I understood why.  What a house! An old "Queen Anne" style house, it sported a conical tower on one corner, more outside doors than you could use in a week, massive sliding doors separating the downstairs living areas, crystal chandeliers, a massive attic, a hidden storage room and - get this - an actual 'secret' passage linking a walk in pantry and one of the downstairs bedrooms.

I loved it.  For a while, it had been divided into a duplex and rented out.  That led to one of the rooms upstairs being converted into a full kitchen.  That became my bedroom, right next to the hidden storage room that was accessed by a concealed door in the closet.  An oak stairway with oak paneling circled upwards over two separate landings.

There were changes made.  First thing was the sealing up of the hidden passage.  My Mom didn't like the idea of some hidden place I could duck into.  The solid oak sliding doors were modified to work again (carpeting had made them unusable, so my Dad shimmied the bottom off so they would work again).  Of course we never used them, and I wasn't allowed to close them.  Finally, the hidden storage room was opened up and made more accessible and less 'mysterious.'  Again, my Mom's request.

The conical tower was cool.  On the bottom is was the extension to a small foyer next to the main front door leading to the outside sidewalk.  On the second floor, however, it was just part of the upstairs bathroom.  There was a large, built in, leaded glass china cabinet that my Mom liked, though under used.  All in all, it was a great house, and the most enjoyable home to grow up in - until 3 years later when my parents moved again.

Nonetheless, I have fond memories of this.  So it was with some pride that I saw, on a FB post, that this house had once been featured in a series on historic homes.  The series was done after we had left.  The house was built in 1903 (I remember the date was put in tiles on the winding sidewalk from the back kitchen door that cut through the yard and headed toward the main sidewalk).  It was built by a businessman named Campbell, and was actually known as "The Campbell House."  Somehow being in a house with an actual name makes it all the cooler.

I enjoyed my time there, and a growing number of neighborhood kids warmed up to me as they enjoyed the cavernous rooms (12' ceilings), round tower and rumor of hidden chambers.  Why my parents moved, I don't know.  They say once my sister moved out for the first time, it was too big for a family of three.  Personally I think it's because Dad wanted a large yard, something the house just didn't have.  He tried to get a couple old neighbor ladies to sell part of their yards, but to no avail.  I can't help but guess that had something to do with it.

Nonetheless, for a time we lived in 'The Campbell House', an early 20th century Queen Anne, and that's not bad.  Thanks be to the Internet.  It does serve some good purposes after all.

One bit of fun trivia.  A second furnace was at the top of the old stairs.  When it cranked on, it made a sound that sounded like footsteps.  I used to lay in bed and count, wondering if someone started at the basement and walked through the house, if they would reach me before the noise stopped and the furnace finally kicked on. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know your thoughts