Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Book Of Me, Part 5 - Childhood Home

This is my entry prompted by The Book of Me, Written By You project created by Julie Goucher of the Anglers Rest blog. The concept: a series of blogging and writing prompts that help family historians capture their own memories and write about themselvesGo to for more information.

This week's assignment:

The prompt for week 5 is Your Childhood Home

When did you leave home?
Where was it?
Where did you move to?
Was it rented or owned? – with parents/Grandparents
Was it inherited
What was it like – describe it – each room.
Were there a favourite room?
Is there anything you particularly remember from the house?
The road & area

This blogger, cir. 1958
Copyright © 2013 Linda O'Donnell All Rights Reserved
My first home - an apartment on Chicago's North Side. 

  1.  I have no memory of it, but my parents told me I would stand up in my crib and rock it back forth, banging it against the wall, much to the neighbor's displeasure.  "Shut that kid up!!" he would yell from next door.  Nice to know I could make an impression at such a young age!
  2. We had a boxer named Bonzo who shared the bathtub with me.

Me, Tommy and our mother, cir. 1960
Copyright © 2013 Linda O'Donnell All Rights Reserved

2nd home - a nice little tract home in Elk Grove Village, northwest of the city. 

  1.  It's where we lived when my baby brother Tommy was born.  
  2. I remember the pink curtains in the kitchen, because one night at dinner, I shook the steak sauce, not realizing the top wasn't on it, and those pink curtains were splattered with steak sauce.  Ooops. 
  3. I walked to school, about 3 or 4 blocks away.  I remember crying on my first day of Kindergarten, but got over it when the little boy across the street, Richard, and I became friends, and he walked with me to school every day. 
  4. I had girlfriends living next door on both sides.  The entire neighborhood was filled with young families, and we all played together.  Our moms would simply open the door, call our names, and off we'd run to have dinner.  It was a happy time where I felt safe and had no worries about the world.
  5. My sister was born while living here, while I was in second grade.
  6. At the end of the school year, we prepared to move to Palatine, a more upscale suburb.  I can still see my friend Richard watching the movers load up our belongings from his house across the street...and I was sad to think I'd never see him again.
Me in red, flanked by my girlfriends, October 1963
Copyright © 2013 Linda O'Donnell All Rights Reserved

House #3 - 
A 1950's contemporary in Palatine

  1. It bordered on some affluent areas, but I wouldn't call us affluent by any means.  
  2. We had to struggle to make ends meet. 
  3. The main difference from the Elk Grove Village house was the size of the yards--it was an acre with lots of trees.  
  4. The second week we were in the house, there was a terrible storm early in the morning.  I remember hearing the rain beating down, then against the house, and suddenly it just stopped.  My mother had been looking out the window and saw the skies turning green, and she grabbed all of us and rushed us down to the basement.  We heard loud crashing and wind gusts, and the power went off.  When we emerged, there was a tree down across our street, a big tree down in our backyard, and one down on our neighbor's house.  Our first tornado left us relatively unscathed, but made a big impression on me and my lifelong obsession with the weather.
  5. One other thing that contributed to my fixation on the weather was the fact that our roof leaked.  We had no shingles--just a tar and gravel roof--and the ceilings were beamed.  Whenever we had storms, the roof would leak in several places, and we'd put out pots and pans to catch the drips.  Our family dog would get nervous any time a storm approached, because she sensed our anxiety, not only due to the roof leaking, but also because it evoked memories of that tornado we encountered when we first moved in.
  6. When the great snowstorm of 1967 struck, the snow was taller than my sister.  My dad, who owned a service station, got stuck in the snow in his tow truck just around the corner from the house.  There were many "snow" days where we stayed home and worked on our coloring books and jigsaw puzzles, drinking hot chocolate while we watched the thermometer just outside the family room window go lower and lower.  Weather--it has stayed with me my entire life!

Our family home in unincorporated Palatine, Illinois
Copyright © 2013 Linda O'Donnell All Rights Reserved
7.   I went to elementary school, junior high and high school in Palatine.
8.   I posed for prom pictures, graduations and even my first wedding in that living room.
9.   The three of us shared a bathroom, which had green and salmon colored tile, but lots of storage.  
10.  I shared a room with my sister, but it was a large space and we had an enormous basement 
       where we had toys, model trains, shuffleboard, and games.  
11.  There was also an enclosed sun porch where we'd spend rainy days playing Monopoly, Life and 
12.  Every winter, my father would build an ice rink in the backyard, mostly so my brother 
       could practice skating and hone his hockey skills.
12.  In the summer, we had a tent, a volleyball/badminton net, tetherball, a basketball hoop, and our 
       bikes to ride.  If it wasn't for the snotty rich kids who lived around us, it would have been an idyllic
       place to live.
13.  I moved out when I started college. 

I moved to Texas when I was 25, but each time I've been back to the area, I've always driven by the house for memory's sake.  A couple of years ago, though, I drove by and the house was gone, with a newly built mansion in its place.  It was shocking to me to have my childhood memories wiped out like that.  It wasn't the perfect house, but I have very fond memories of it.  I loved looking out the back windows the season's first snowfall, watching the robins emerge in the spring, the changing of the trees in autumn.  It will be forever be the house I think of as my childhood home, and while things weren't always happy, it was a wonderful place to grow up.

1 comment:

  1. Some great memories here. Your talking about the roof reminded me that when we moved into our new home when I was about 7 I was much struck with the noise that the rain made on our roof. We had a tin roof (previously we had tile rooves) and you couldn't hear yourself talk or think in a downpour.