The house is a cavernous old Victorian duplex. When we moved in it had peeling paint, noisy plumbing, drafty windows and a questionable roof. My parents did quite a bit of work restoring it when we lived there. Sadly, over the past 25 years or so, it has reverted to almost the same dilapidated state we found it in back in the early 80s.
|Our former house, as it looks today.
A couple of nights after we moved in, my sister and I were on dish duty in the kitchen after dinner. Our routine was I washed, she dried. When I finished with the last dish and turned off the tap, to our surprise the sound of running water continued. My dad opened the basement door to find a small waterfall. For the next few weeks, we had a basement full of plumbers. There was a great deal of banging, clanging and muffled cursing from beneath the floor as they battled the ancient Goliath of a boiler.
|The house as it looked while we lived there.
|The scene of the dreaded walk to school
My grandfather would complain long and loudly about the "bloody pipes" making noise when we took showers early in the morning before school. He also made it known that he thought we all spent entirely too much time grooming in the bathroom for our own good. "You're always picking at yourselves, it isn't natural."
Once when my brother singed some popcorn in the microwave (a new contraption we had only recently acquired and weren't too handy at using yet), grandpa insisted we were burning the place down. He marched out to the backyard and refused to come in, claiming that he couldn't breath because we were filling the house with "bloody smoke," although he seemed to have plenty of lung power available for shouting about it.
|My parents, siblings and I circa 1985 or so.
Another time when we were out walking, Grandpa stopped in at the florist. I thought he was going to buy flowers for Grandma, and so did the sales clerk. Instead, he asked her for several of those little packets of preservative that come enclosed with cut flowers. "I'd like to put a wee bit in my wife's orange juice of a morning." He said, deadpan. "To keep her looking nice and fresh."
|Grandpa, looking very much the irascible Irishman
Walking past our old house last week, I wished I had a time machine so I could go back again for just a few hours. We lived in a lot of different houses when I was growing up, but I'll always have a special place in my heart for that big old drafty, quirky Victorian on Broad Street.