Green Mansions

Day Eleven: Today’s Prompt: Where did you live when you were 12 years old? 

Let’s forget the part where I was three years old, when my folks moved from The Bronx back to Queens (you remember my archipelago?). I don’t remember squat about the house. I have no memories actually of anything before around five years. I can’t honestly tell you when I even became aware of the house. In fact, I didn’t even see the top two floors, of our four story abode until somewhere in my early teens. So 12 years old, works for this, because i just looked up at the prompt and saw how old I’m supposed be when remembering LOL

Okay, now we’re rolling. I’m twelve, graduating from grammer school, and heading into junior high school. I got my own room – the roomers who lived upstairs have gone off to rooming houses else where. We had one left, and he lived all the way on the 4th floor. It was an attic room – two rooms really. It wasn’t one of these crawl space attics. It had a full staircase, with steps that were way steeper than the one which came up from the main floor to where my, now, room was situated.

My room was tres cool; front of the house, with a little pretend balcony, which didn’t have a door, but could be accessed through the double windows. There were three other rooms up here: the main bathroom – the only one, when we moved in – and another full bedroom where I brother lived. Then there was this tiny little closet of a room.  My father used the tiny room for a den.

The main floor, in which I lived and slept until the paying customers left for good, had a living room, where my parents slept on a pull out couch. What once was a dining room, was turned, first, into a kind of office like space, after it served as a bedroom for my brother and myself. Then it was turned into what was affectionatly called The Plant room. No, we didn’t grow weed there. But my mom, the green thumb lady, was big on owning every kind of plant known to nurseries.

The Plant Room

The pantry for the kitchen became the bathroom for the main floor, a neat trick if you know how to do that sort of thing. From the kitchen, you could access that creepy domain where the monster’s of the id lived… the ones that reached out and grabbed little girls who had to go downstairs into the basement to get the laundry to bring up to be hung out on the clothes line in the back yard. Yeah, yeah, I know, you’re thinking, there was no monster there. Well, maybe not, but it sure was a creepy place. The stairs were old, wooden, and creaky, that passed a boarded up side entry, and at the bottom of the steps, was a closed off room, where it was said, my father had a workshop. But, the washing machine, was at the back of the basement, past the groaning and moaning furnace, which whispered threats. And the light to the back was stupidly somewhere in the dark, where you had to do a Helen Keller, reaching out to find and pull the chain which brought on the life saving light.

This abode was no spring chicken,  being over a hundred years old when we moved in. But it stood sturdy, except when the Long Island Railroad, not more than a half block away, trundled past, sometimes giving us a good shake, rattle and roll. So used to this was I, that when we got a residual tremor from an earthquake which hit when I was in my early 30s, I just assumed the trains were being particularly raucous that morning. It was, after all, rush hour. Or it could have been one of the many trucks which bumped up and down over the potholes that gave our street the look of the aftermath of triggered landmines.

Now, this big old house, was part of the big old city in which I grew and managed to survive the precarious days of my young life. Living in a city, as metropolitan as New York, one would think, it was all pavement, and buildings squished together. Not in my neighborhood. Our house was perched on a postage stamp size piece of land. We had a front yard, with grass, and a rose bush that was sacrificed to afford parking (off street) for my little car when I earned it.

But it was pretty as a picture before that, and we had sticker bushes up against the house by the front, overhanging porch. In fact, this is where the milkman delivered our bottles when I was young. Do you remember those days? Fresh milk, in bottles (not the plastic crap they give us these days), brought right our front door and left in the box we had sitting right next to the entrance.

Green Mansion front

There was even a drive way, which was one car width, and fed into the back yards of our house and our neightor’s house next door, where the garages were situated. Maybe back in a time before even I was born, people used their garages for cars, though to be honest, I can’t see those big bohunkus cars fitting between the houses, or even in the little wooden buildings that were built to hold them.

And to top it all off, we had a yard, in the back. It was sort of small, but we managed to grow vegetables in the back 40 (feet that is), and have the cool spray of our sprinkler in summers on the lawn part, to keep us kids having fun in the summer sun.

Saving the best for last, my favorite part of this grand family mansion were the steps and stoops. There’s nothing I loved more than sitting at the stop of the stairs, on the second floor and dreaming dreams of some future I didn’t know about. Or sitting on the top step of the back stoop, watching the grass grow, doing what I figure was my, then, communing with the Green Ones. Plus, there was plenty of lazing around on the front porch, watching the world go by.

I miss that house,  and was able to visit it once online through Google maps. It was at once, nostalgic, and sort of happy, but sad seeing how they’d taken away the front porch, and painted our beautiful green house, a boring white. Adding insult to injury, they paved over everything in front so it looked like one of these townhouse communities. And there was narry a tree left on the block, like they washed away what was.

So I guess it’s true, you can take the girl out of the house, but you can’t take the house out of the girl.

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20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. platosgroove
    Apr 20, 2015 @ 17:13:50

    Really cool house. Its sad about the growing things though.

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  2. calensariel
    Apr 21, 2015 @ 00:34:30

    Boy, that brought back some memories. I did the SAME thing on Google with the last house we lived in in Marion. They also had taken the porch off. What’s the matter with people? Don’t they know how many incarnations those porches have had through the minds of children? Your house also reminded me of my aunts. They had all these doors going outside in weird places. They didn’t look like they ought to be there. But they had small covered porches that we’re fun to play on. It’s amazing to me how so many of us have similar memories. Great job.

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    • Fimnora Westcaw
      Apr 21, 2015 @ 20:04:30

      As I keep gaining on remembering, I think it’s good. Sometimes, not, but I hope the memories you got back, were good. 🙂

      I do wish I knew the answer to what’s the matter with people. I say, the 21st Century Disease. It’s my favorite for what ails the world over the last 15 years.

      Back then houses had character. They had little hidden treasures, or creepy hallways, but it gave it character. It definitely wasn’t those ‘little pink houses’ John Cougar sung about.

      There’s a ton of us ‘boomers’ still around to remember, and share the memories 😀

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  3. badfish
    Apr 21, 2015 @ 01:57:44

    Just a marvelous piece! What a great memory, and it took me back to my childhood. And yeah, what’s up with people lopping off porches? Porches, or even only decks, cost a fortune these days. I could imagine a hundred-year-old garage built for Model-T’s trying to hold a Buick. One thing I want in the house I will build some day (ok, if I ever do that) is a pantry. So it stung to hear you traded a pantry for a bath, but yeah, I understand the need for more than one in the house. I’m thinking my house, which will be very small, may have at least one and a half baths. I don’t want guest trolloping into my bedroom.

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    • Fimnora Westcaw
      Apr 21, 2015 @ 17:14:39

      Thank you!!! I guess that is one good thing about these prompts. It allows us to re-mem-mem, remem-mem-member (can you hear that song in your head?) the good times, and how much things we knew about have changed, and not always for the better. 🙂 I love porches! We have a kind of porch here, which isn’t up stairs, but does have an overhang, and we have a park bench there, so we can see and peek out through the bushes and watch the fireflies begin to dance. 🙂

      Yeah, model-T’s that’s about right! Everybody used them for storage. Interestingly enough, now people are having sheds made for that and they part in their driveways, or maybe in a built-in garage.

      I’m thinking my folks had to use the pantry space for the bathroom because the one bathroom upstairs was really for the roomers. We had plenty of over the counter cabinets built in around the kitchen.

      You got to have an extra at least 1/2 bath in any house. We had that even in our mobile home.

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      • badfish
        Apr 23, 2015 @ 00:09:01

        For most of my life, I never had a garage. Then once, I lived in a place that had one. It was glorious, really awesome. There was a jacuzzi, too (not in the garage).

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        • Fimnora Westcaw
          Apr 23, 2015 @ 13:35:35

          Before I could remember, I don’t think my folks lived in a place with a garage, but the house here, and then the one in Fort Collins (the second visit to CO.) had one. Oh, right, the one in the mobile home court didn’t have one. Now, we even park in the garage here LOL most people just leave their cars out in the rain and snow. I hate clearing off snow from my car, especially AFTER shoveling it off the deck, steps, walkway, and driveway. And we have to do it to the letter of the law here… no bit of snow may fly off the top, trunk or whatever of anyone’s car and break the windshield of another car. SO, garage parking is so cool. Plus, we named our garage the “Landing Bay,” since we live on Serenity 😉

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          • badfish
            Apr 23, 2015 @ 23:31:42

            Ha. My garage was in the desert of Arizona. So no snow. But yeah, if I lived in snow country…wiping snow off is a drag. Especially wet snow, or frozen snow. And chipping ice off windshields is the worst. Had to do this in Maryland. And Colorado. Serenity is fine, but maybe you should move to Serendipity?

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            • Fimnora Westcaw
              Apr 23, 2015 @ 23:59:04

              We watch Serendipity every Calendar New Years Day. Does that count? 🙂

              I certainly have had it up to here *points to eyebrows* with the snow, ice, all of it. And tonight, it’s going down below freezing again! Really tired of this not-so-much-like-Spring, Spring weather. I saw snow falling today. It’s April. What’s up with that? Not that I haven’t seen it snow in April. The year we got married, it snow 12 inches the week before Q got here, and then 6 inches the week he arrived. We still had snow on the ground May 1 at our wedding. Blech!

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              • badfish
                Apr 24, 2015 @ 00:09:29

                Where the H do you live, Iceland? When I lived in Aspen, it snowed in July. Ruined my organic garden.

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                • Fimnora Westcaw
                  Apr 24, 2015 @ 09:25:20

                  New York upstate. And while we’re surrounded by mountains, it’s not the same as being on the mountain… Aspen is ON the mountain, IN the mountains. That I can understand. When I lived in Fort Collins, in August, top of trail ridge road it was snowing. That I get… I want my Spring!!! :p

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  4. avsweb1
    Apr 21, 2015 @ 21:42:49

    Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your memories. Reading it, felt like I was actually seeing the house, floors, basement… Fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature
    Apr 27, 2015 @ 19:26:41

    This is great! We had an old house with a very scary basement (you could NOT get me down there) and a scary attic. Yup, I sure remember the milk bottles on the stoop, and the milkman. Sorry they messed up your house. I am afraid to see mine again. I did go back once, and it was like Alice in Wonderland. Everything seemed so small.

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    • Fimnora Westcaw
      Apr 27, 2015 @ 22:44:17

      Ah someone else who knows about creepy basements. Whew, I had a difficult time doing my chores back then. The attic was full size, so not at all creepy. After the roomer moved out, it became my mom’s sewing room, and meditation room. I used it too, for meditation.

      I sure do miss the milk coming in bottles. I’ve meant to look for that. I heard, in stores, there are some sold, though I’m sure they’re exorbitant in cost. Still, so much healthier.

      I recall, when I did visit, the house next to ours on the other side, was being made into something rather major. Maybe I’ll try to go back and see if they updated google and what it became. Maybe they repainted the house green, and put a porch back on it? 🙂

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