||April 12, 2012
GOING BACK HOME
- . . . While I was visiting family last weekend for Easter I took a ride through my old neighborhood, the second one I lived in after we moved from downtown ( Front St./ St. John’s St.) to a new place outside of the town of Havre de Grace, Md.
- . . . It was a beautiful, sunny, chilly day and I felt like visiting my old stomping grounds.
- . . . Turning off Rt. 155 I headed down Tydings Rd., to take a look at our first house (a Cape Codder), which was on the corner, intersecting Chapel Rd. (Our actual address was Chapel Rd., RFD 2 (Rural Free Delivery), as our mail service was called back then for places outside of town.
- . . . A young man (24 years old, he later told me) was outside our old house doing yard work, weeding out azaleas and trimming bushes.
- . . . I decided to turn around and pull up to the curb.
- . . . I rolled down the window, called to him, pointed and said, “Excuse me, I used to live in this house.”
- . . . I was hoping he didn’t’ think I was some weirdo.
- . . . I was a perfect stranger.
- . . . He was curious.
- . . . He walked up and leaned over the fence, was friendly, said hello and asked me if I my family was “the Strongs.” (They bought the house from us back in the day.)
- . . . I learned from him that they lived there from 1961 until 2011. Fifty years.
- . . . He knew the history of the place.
- . . . He also said that, according to his records, the first owners had lived there from about 1953 until 1960/61. That was the Fisch family: my family.
- . . . He asked what the house was like back then and how the neighborhood was.
- . . . I told him a lot of things I remembered about the place and he seemed interested.
- . . . It brought back memories.
- . . . There are still two bedrooms on the main level of the house, he said, and that led me to remember that when my sister arrived my parents had one half of the upstairs attic finished off and it became my bedroom, now giving us three.
- . . . The walls up there were done in knotty pine that was shellacked.
- . . . He didn’t know what knotty pine was.
- . . . As it turned out he realized what it was when I told him that a wall that separated the kitchen and the living room was also done in knotty pine. That wall’s still there, never changed, and he realized it was the same as the wood up in the bedroom: knotty pine.
- . . . He said that it was still the same way it was back then; no one ever changed it. That same wood.
- . . . The yard. I told him that we placed big rocks painted white on the corner of our lawn near the intersection of Tydings and Chapel Roads - before a concrete curb was put in - to mark the space so that people driving by and making the turn wouldn’t come up on the grass.
- . . . An old-fashioned mailbox sat a few steps away that we used to put the flag up on when we had mail to be sent.
- . . . Back then our side porch was a small, basic wooden one with steps leading down to the yard (it’s since been made larger). The milkman used to place his glass-bottled delivery just outside the screen door.
- . . . I buried my parakeet Ricky underneath that porch.
- . . . We also had a “porch” in the front of the house that was really just a low concrete square with wrought iron railings on either side, nothing special.
- . . . We used to sit there and look out at the comings and goings of kids on bikes and cars up and down Chapel Rd., squinting at the sun during the summer.
- . . . I told the new occupant-RJ was his name - that down in the back of the yard there used to be a woods before more development started happening and flooded the area with more houses.
- . . . We used to hang from vines and act like Tarzan.
- . . . My father had a furniture and appliance store and used to bring home big cardboard boxes that we’d put down there in a clearing and made forts out of. We’d play soldiers.
- . . . The house had a full basement with a door to the outside and a faucet on the wall that we’d hook up to a hose and water the mums on the side of the house.
- . . . I used to invite the kids in the neighborhood over to roller skate around on the smooth concrete floors of that basement. We’d hold onto the supporting poles, swing around fast, let go and speed across to the other side of the room. It was a “blast.”
- . . . The skates were the old-fashioned metal ones that clamped around the soles of your shoes and you had to have a key to adjust the tightness.
- . . . I used to ride my kid-sized fire truck around on that floor and clang the bell when I was littler.
- . . . Finally, I told RJ that I’d better be on my way and said it was nice meeting him. He said the same and that if I wanted to stop by again that I could. Nice guy.
- . . . It was fun remembering.
- . . . A nostalgic experience; I got choked up as I began to drive off in my Toyota rental car.
- . . . As I pulled away from the curb I remembered that my father used to park our old ’49 black Buick and later a powder blue 1954 Buick right there where I was sitting during my visit.
- . . . I took off down Chapel Road and saw all the houses that my friends and neighbors lived in. They were still there.
- . . . And then I crossed over the railroad tracks that were at the bottom of the hill and headed toward the highway to my sister’s for dinner.
- . . . Remember Then -The Earls, on Old Town Records, 1962. “Re-mem-mem, mem-mem-mem-mem- ber.”
© Rocci Fisch/Random Thoughts
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