Monday, August 15, 2016

Houses, homes

On our recent trip to my hometown of Pocatello we drove by two of the houses I have lived in, and I stopped the car to take pictures of each. (Probably freaked out the owners if they saw me) I'll bet most of you have done this at some time. There is something so compelling about going back for a new look at a place you once called home. It is almost irresistible.

This is the house I lived in from age 4 to age 14, the first house my parents actually owned. 61 Maplewood.

It was a postwar house like thousands built quickly at the end of World War II all over the United States, in a neighborhood of street after street of identical houses, filled with kids—a great place to grow up. Unlike many of its neighbors, this house actually looks better today than it looked 60 years ago when I posed, miserably, on the front steps with my broken arm at the age of 8.

The iron railing my dad added to the house is still there, and, incredibly, the same screen door. The paint looks much better than it did back then. The only photos I could find of that house were of the front steps, where it seemed I often posed for a photo. Here I am at the bottom of the steps proudly showing off my stylish southwestern style dress, sewn by my mother.

No old photos of the whole house. I wish I had one for comparison.
The next stop was the cute Tudor revival house, that was the first house Ray and I owned. 912 West Wyeth. Sadly, it didn't look great to me. Somewhere in the years inbetween the Tudor details and old siding were covered over with barn-like vertical siding. This made me sad.

Like the other house, I have no photos of it when we lived there, only bits, like what you can see behind my son (wasn't he cute?!) in this old shot.

However, about 15 years ago I made a quilt with our long-gone Volkswagen for a guild challenge, themed "Firsts"—first house, first new car.

How I wish I had documented, in photos, all of the places I've lived. I would love to revisit each one and see how they have changed and remember what my life was like when I lived there, and somehow search for whatever mark I might have left on that house that has become the container for other lives, and see if I can detect any sense of me that might linger there. Humble, though most of them have been, I have loved every house I've ever lived in.

My son-in-law gave me a painting he painted of our last Portland house. I wish I had one of each house. I wish I had known how much I would enjoy looking back on those houses.

And today I took a picture of the house I live in now.

So here's an idea. Go take a picture of your house. Now. Do it. Someday you'll be glad you have it, I promise.



  1. The auditor of the state keeps photos of each house for tax keeping purposes. I've gotten many photos of houses that way when I can't make a trip out there. Here, they take pictures every two years. I don't know what they do with the old photos, but maybe your property tax collector may have older photos. You could also check with other owners - they might have taken a "before" picture before changing something.

  2. Anonymous5:50 AM

    I haven't lived in many different houses, but I understand what you are saying. I feel a deep connection to my previous homes and we've lived in our present home 52 years! The next step may be the retirement home and I'm not so sure how I'll feel about that!!!

  3. I had a replica of that dress that I wore with a concho belt and I'm on the porch of my gram's house with my brother and sister. Of course, in those days we called the dress by the not-politically-correct name. Rick-rack rules.

  4. I walked up and down the street looking for the house I lived in until I was 5. I remembered some details. As I was standing in front of the house contemplating, a couple on the front porch asked what I was doing. When I told them I had lived there after WwII, they invited me in and there it was! The well-remembered fireplace and my attic playroom, made my day and the kindness of strangers even more so.

  5. Yes, those photos of where we once were touch a deep chord!

  6. I have friends who do a road trip--they visit the old houses, schools etc of one of the friend pack. The friend whose life is being "visited" usually tells stories or talks of memories. One comment--"I thought it was larger" is always made.

    Anyway, check Google maps. Just insert the address and the overhead house photo will come up. Click on the rooftop and a front view comes up. You can even "walk" down the street and look at the neighborhood. Then, perhaps your son in law could paint you more pictures?