Saturday, December 20, 2008

My childhood home

I grew up in a house that my grandfather grew up in and my father lived in his entire life. It was an untypical house, because it really was two homes in one. My Oma and Opa had their home downstairs with complete kitchen, and mom and dad and brother and I lived upstairs with a beautiful kitchen my parents remodeled in the 1950's.

Both mom and Oma were excellent cooks, but I always had the chance to eat at either table depending on what sounded best for the day. Quite often they cooked together also.

We had three bedrooms upstairs and one bathroom and one living room, large dining area and a beautiful large kitchen. More than enough room for all of us. If you look at the house, it also had a complete attic where you could stand up in the middle of the attic and then the walls slanted down on each side. Everything you can imagine was kept. In the complete basement was the laundry room, lines to hang clothes in the winter, a canning pantry, a work bench area and Opa and Dad's wine cellar. They made grape and rhubarb wine every year and it just smelled good down there.

As a child, I remember a hedge taller than me running along the sidewalk for privacy. My Oma was a very private person and this was her design. There also were two trees which I remember they called "Trees of Paradise". But now as I am older, I think they were a kind of sumac. The front of the house was also covered with English ivy. I can remember the sparrows would build nests in it and it was such a wonderful sound to have the windows open in the summer and hear the birds chirping. My mother then heard that the ivy actually eats away the mortar of the bricks, so this all came down also. Then, there was a very large pine planted on the right side of the house. It got extremely large, and I see now the new owners we sold it to in 2001, have removed this tree. The front of the house seems rather bare to me now, but it is no longer my home.

I haven't had a new picture of my old home for many years, so when my childhood friend volunteered to take a picture when she was there at Thanksgiving, I was very grateful to have this for my grandchildren. Thank you for the picture, Lee, at

On the right is another house which looks like it is attached. It is not, but it is so close you can't put a finger between the houses. Such an unusual design and reason for many people to take pictures of it. In my father's childhood, this house next door was attached by a porch in the back and this was the Beck Bakery. Might be the reason my Oma and mom never baked bread.

There is a very large back yard that still houses the old wash house, a place for wood storage and even an outhouse that has not been used since 1950. That building also has an attic and housed more of our things. Behind this were peach trees and an actual apple orchard with at least 3 dozen trees. Guess what my job was in the fall?

It is fitting that I receive the picture of my childhood home now, in the Christmas season. It is actually bittersweet. Merry Christmas to all.


  1. I wonder if your grandmother's tree was not Ailanthus, or Tree-of-Heaven which looks a lot like some kind of sumac....

  2. Kristi the large trees in the back of the house are Black Walnut. The Tree of Paradise were removed in the 60's. The smaller tree in front of the house is a flowering crab planted on my parents' 25th anniversary.