A Trip Down Memory Lane: One way to access the stories of our past

Sometimes its a random thing that brings out old memories. Never underestimate what you can learn from a simply property search. A childhood best friend made a post about the price of the home she grew up in. I decided to follow suit and look up the house I grew up in. The house that my parents bought back in the 1950’s for $13,950 is now estimated to be worth about $1,119,000. I am lucky that I have the original purchase contract so I know the exact price they paid. It was dated a few months before the deed which is recorded the day after I was born! My Mom used to say they moved in the day before I was born and I suspect this was right. I imagine they were anxiously awaiting my arrival and the finishing of their new home, all happening in rapid succession.

Me on the front porch

The house was brand new and had never been occupied. It was post World War II and houses in the San Francisco Bay Area were sprouting up everywhere, the onslaught of suburbia. It was and remains a 3 bedroom, 1 bath cracker box weighing in at 1,157 square feet. Small by today’s standards but then it was considered a modest middle class dwelling. It was built of redwood siding and my parents built a redwood fence all around it. It also had clear redwood panelling on one wall of the living room which is now painted over. My parents later added brick planter boxes across the front and sides and filled them mainly with Rhododendrons, azaleas and cymbidium orchids. It sat on the corner, which they liked as it meant more privacy, they said. There was a garage behind the house so essentially one neighbor instead of three. The one neighbor’s house was a mere six feet away and I could look from my bedroom into there’s with ease. I always felt quite exposed there on the corner for all the world to see rather than being tucked in further down the block, a contrast explained by the fact my parents were both extroverts and I although outgoing, a definite introvert.

In the above photo I am holding the newspaper and the top edge of the play pen is visible inside the living room window. Although you can’t tell from this photo the door was yellow and the dark siding was a deep pine green. the trim and the rest was white. There were brass numbers and a brass mailbox. The mailman used to come up the steps not quite visible on left side and exit those to the front. In fact many people took the “shortcut” across our porch. Below is what the house looked like in 2003. The color scheme had changed and the fence was beginning to fall apart. Today the door is a nice turquoise blue and the fence has been replaced.

A photo I took in 2003

By looking at one of the many Real Estate websites you may be lucky enough to have a photos taken inside. This is what really brought back a flood of memories, even if many things have changed. This photo is what the dining room looks today.

Dining Room today

What I instantly note is the scalloped edge on the built in buffet. The front window has been replaced but aside from the new light fixture essentially the same. You can see the Front door in the background. This room seemed so much bigger back then—but wait I have an old polaroid of the room.

Me in the DIning Room

You can see the scalloped built in is the same. This is me age 3, in my bathrobe, hair in curlers setting the table perhaps for a dinner party my parents are having later that evening. In the background I spy an aquarium which may have held reptiles or fish, as I collected both. The tablecloth is red and white checks. In those days the walls were a rosy beige and the one large wall had dark green wallpaper with magnolia flowers with a hint of the same rosy beige. What really spoke to me was the scallops. After over 60 years the scallops remain! And that’s not all, they remain in the kitchen as well. I do not have a photo of what the kitchen looked like back then but let me describe it for you. Knotty pine cabinets with copper handles just like this:

Copper handle

The flooring was a red brick pattern and the tile was yellow with contrasting black edge tiles. The knotty paine has been replaced and new hardware. Here’s what it looks like today. The tile has been replaced but the configuration is identical. Those round end shelves were filled with knick-knacks and do-dads. The telephone, a black desk model sat right about where the basket is and there was nowhere to have a “private conversation” in those days. Not to mention we had a part line shared with a half dozen other neighbors. But aside from the cosmetic changes looking at this photo brings it back like it was just yesterday.

Kitchen today

I could go on and on describing each room and writing up memories but the point of this post is for you to look up your house or that of your grandparents, aunts, or uncles— and see what it brings up for you. It does not have to look the same to joggle our memories. If you are lucky enough to have parents or grandparents alive maybe you could share a search with them and see what it yields…we are never to old to revisit our first home. Capturing those memories and stories may surprise you!

Copyright Kelly Wheaton All RIghts Reserved 2021

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