Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, August 12, 2013

A small house

I lived for 23 years in the house in the picture above.   It was a small house.  The footprint is at most 1,000 feet.  It is a two bedroom house, with two attic rooms. 

I must start at the beginning.  I am writing this because I used to enjoy watching House Hunters on HGTV.  I have gotten tired, recently, of the younger set whining for and wanting at least four bedrooms (they have no children, just the two of them), they must have at least two bathrooms, and the master bedroom must have a bathroom with two sinks, a soaker tub, and a huge shower, separate from the tub.  The fixtures must be up-to-date, etc.  The kitchen must be huge with granite countertops.  And finally, this is in most cases their first home, not the one in which they want to raise their children.

There is rarely mention of the house being a home.

Well, our small house was a home.  My mother made it a home.

When I was small we had the two bedrooms, one for mom and dad, and one for us children.  In the children's bedroom my sister and I shared a double bed, and there was a crib, and a twin bed. One of the two closets in the house was in that room.  It held my mom's clothes.  Dad's clothes were in a walnut wardrobe.  The only other closet in the house was in the hall way.  It stored winter coats.  There was room for about six coats in there.  The vacuum cleaner was also stored there. 

There was little room to move around in either bedroom but we managed and we didn't think we were deprived.  And, oh, did I mention there was only ONE BATHROOM, no shower, except for a hose-like contraption attached to the faucet in the tub, which was a beautiful claw-foot tub.  Six people, one bathroom.  We didn't feel deprived, because it was our home.

When my sister and I had reached the ages of 6 and 9, respectively, we were put up in the attic.  It was cold in the winter and hot, hot, hot in the summer.  We didn't feel deprived.  There was no closet up there, so we hung our clothing on nails or a very small roll-around valet.  We were crowded in the attic because the center part was probably only 9 feet wide, and the only place to put the bed was sticking out into the 9x15 room that had a chimney in the middle (the heat source) and stairs taking up three feet at one end.  We loved that room. 

To this day, I have very fond memories of that room.  When I went to college I moved into the storage room in the attic, pulling out as much of the junk that was stored there so I could put in a single bed and use one of the chests of drawers that was stored in there.  I liked that room a whole lot.  Why?  Because I could rearrange my furniture as often as I wanted.  I had a desk, a chest of drawers, a bed and lots of neat "stored" items which I arranged in that small room.  The only source of heat in that room was what came through the doorway, so in the winter I had to leave the door open.  I felt like Louisa May Alcott.

I loved that  home.  My sister loved that home.  My brothers loved that home.  Mom and dad put the love in our home.

Yes, we had outdated appliances, fixtures in the bath and an unfinished basement.  Shabby sheik?  My mom invented it!


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