Sunday, January 23, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal genealogy - Week 4, Home

My family moved a few times while I was growing up, but we finally settled down and spent the most time on the north side of St. Cloud, Minnesota.  In the summer 1f 1971 my parents rented a small cracker-box of a house across the street from the railroad yard.  Not very attractive, but affordable on what they were earning.  I don't know much about the origins of the house or previous owners.  I do remember we had a good landlord who came over  at least once to help with a problem with the house - the well pump, I think.  We had  a well for all of our water, with a big pressurized tank in the basement.  City water was not yet available on our street.  I still remember that as some of the best tasting water I've ever had, although now it's not as good as I remember.

As I mentioned, the house was small.  It also apparently had been built smaller, then added on at some point, as the roof line was awkward at one point.  It was sheathed in a pink asphalt shingle-like material.  It had no porch or deck, and a single-car detached garage with white wood siding.  It had a living room, a small kitchen, a TINY bathroom with a half-sized tub and no shower, a dining room and a single bedroom.  The basement was full with concrete block walls.  As we were a family with two adults and two kids, we needed more bedroom space, so the dining room became a bedroom for a while for my brother and me.  We had bunk beds because two beds wouldn't have fit any other way.  Later we built a bedroom in the basement for us.  Nowadays that's really frowned upon, as we didn't have egress windows or anything.  As I got a little older, I wanted my own room, so we divided that room into two small rooms.

Things pretty much stayed that way until May of 1979 when my youngest brother was born, complicating the space arrangements.  I don't even remember what we did to cope.  In 1987 I enlisted in the Navy and moved out, easing the space issues a little.  After I left, a number of remodeling projects occurred.  A front porch/deck was added.  The house was resided in something other than asphalt, and in a cream color with trim added to make it look half-timbered.  The roof was replaced a couple of times, once while I was still home, then once more quite recently to repair some leaks.  Insulation was added.  A back deck was added, and a patio off of that.  The garage was painted to match the house color.  My other brothers eventually moved out as well, leaving just my parents living in that house.  It's a decent size for a couple without kids. The only real problems with the house yet are that it evolved very hodge-podge over the decades, and that it is in serious need of upgrades to the infrastructure.  Electrical outlets are all still two-prong, and plumbing needs a look-see.  Light fixtures are almost nonexistent, so everything is plug-in lamps.  The electrical service is still through a fuse box!  It's all plaster and lathe, so redoing the electrical would entail gutting the place and dry-walling.  At some point, city water was run to the house, and cable TV, so it's not entirely stuck in the mid-20th century. 

My folks still live in that house, almost 40 years later.  We still gather there for holidays.  Me and my family, my middle brother and his wife and now 7 kids, and until recently, my youngest brother and his fiancee.  That little house gets awfully crowded during those holiday gatherings!  One of the great things is that we're all still close enough to gather, again except for my youngest brother and fiancee who recently moved off to Florida.  Growing up, we had no nearby relatives, so having family gatherings was rare and involved a lot of driving.

What was your home like when you were growing up?  Talk about it in the comments below!