Not my usual fashion or style post, but I’ve been reminiscing lately, and wanted to share some memories of home with you. The old white house in my hometown in Arkansas wasn’t special by any means. Built around the turn of the century, it had a big front porch and a middle dormer as its main design features. She was a shabby old girl. We moved there the summer before my fourth grade year. Daddy had started working with cousin Wayne repairing appliances and air conditioners, so the first thing he did to the old house was to add central heat and air. Thank you Mr. Fedders, wherever you are! The cosmetics of the old place, however, were an afterthought.
Daddy rushed through the renovation of the old place. He worked so hard during the day, then labored on the house in his spare time. But, let’s just say this old house renovation would have never been featured on HGTV! The one bathroom featured peel and stick mirror tiles with a marble finish, in place of an actual mirror. Why? Who knows. The floors were covered in laminate. Daddy installed a curtain in place of a door in one of the bedroom closets, where he had conveniently, or inconveniently, installed the hot water heater (which ruptured once, flooding the bedroom – causing Daddy to holler out cuss words in his usual artistic fashion). He installed the required faux wood panelling that was all the rage in the 70’s, and screened in the old back porch, where Mama had her canning jars and craft supplies.
The prettiest room in the house was the kitchen, though by today’s standards it wouldn’t be considered pretty. But to Mama it was, because she had cousin Keith, who was a gifted carpenter, build her cabinets according to her specifications. Everything was laid out just so. In the middle of the kitchen was their big table with plenty of seating for our family of five. Most mornings, around ten, family and friends would gather around the table for coffee and cigarettes and whatever snack Mama had prepared for them. They’d catch up on their days, and reminisce about family and times long past.
Papa (Daddy’s daddy) lived with us in that house. We shuffled bedrooms around several times to accommodate him. At one time, my twin brothers and I shared a bedroom, separated by a makeshift pegboard wall that Daddy built. My side of the pegboard was plastered with posters of Donny Osmond and Bobby Sherman and other pop stars featured in the pages of Tiger Beat magazine. I had an old wrought iron bed frame that was my Grandma’s. Mama painted it with gold spray paint, and I felt so fancy. The boys’ side of the pegboard contained their bunk bed that Mama and Daddy brought back from Finland, along with “paint it yourself” dressers that Mama painted white, and Eddy scribbled on with markers and crayons. We later found all of that furniture in the attic when we cleaned out Mama and Daddy’s house after they passed – even the pegboard was still being used in his garage!
Daddy hung a tire swing on the old pecan tree in the backyard, where I would swing and dream, probably of Donny Osmond. I was a misfit that fourth grade year of school, unpopular and unhappy, and that tree swing was where I would escape the pain and loneliness of the school day. Our house was across the street from the junior high school, and kids would sneak out of school, crossing the street to sneak a smoke behind Daddy’s shed in the backyard. We had a front porch swing where we would sit and swing and shell peas or peanuts, and sometimes sing Jeremiah Was a Bulldog at the top of our lungs, our squeaky little voices echoing all over the neighborhood. I learned to twirl a baton in that backyard. I’d play my little cassette tape recorder and twirl away, practicing my figure eights and grapevines and high kicks.
Mama loved flowers and she planted blue morning glories that grew up one side of the front porch. There was a large wisteria bush on one side of the house, and the bees would swarm it in the early spring, buzzing around, intoxicated by the scent. The other side of the house had a large fig tree, and irises and daylilies. We called it our Garden of Eden, because it was so pretty. There was a large sidewalk that led up to the porch, and one year Mama planted one of those “strips of seeds” things that she ordered from the Walter Drake catalog. Zinnias and marigolds blossomed and bloomed all summer long. She had such a magical touch with flowers.
Our neighborhood was our world. We’d ride bikes around the neighborhood, roam around the junior high campus, and stay out until dusk. Tater Martindale’s store was nearby, and in the summer time we’d walk over and turn in coke bottles and get a Hershey bar. Sometimes Papa would send me for Prince Albert in a can and rolling papers, so he could make his own cigarettes. He was a Camel man, but I guess every once in awhile he got a hankering for old fashioned DIY cigs. Who knows…
The old house was shabby, but she was as pretty as Mama and Daddy could make it, while raising a family on a military pension and repairing appliances and air conditioners. My fondest memories of my childhood are from our years in that house, the hum of family conversation around the table, Daddy watching Star Trek in the living room, the smell of home cooking and Mama tucking us in at night…proving that kids don’t need the fanciest, or the most up to date “stuff”…they just need family, and security and a safe place to call home.
I think the older I get the more I cherish these early memories of home, and my family. They really were the good old days for me…
Do you have fond memories of your childhood home? Leave a comment and a memory! I’d love to hear from you! Thank you for stopping by!