The House I Grew Up In–Writing 101

Oh, the house we lived in when I was twelve. I’m not sure I can stop with just the house. I loved where we lived. It was in Aston, Pennsylvania. I never could quite keep it straight whether we lived in the Old or New Ridge (Green Ridge). There were houses being built on our street (Crystal Road), but not very rapidly. Houses were built as property was sold, so it was probably the “New Ridge.”

We lived one block down and across the street from the firehouse at the top of the street. Our house was a square bungalow. It was a one-story house with a cellar and an attic. The house was what was termed a “stick-built” house. The base was cement. The exterior was an ugly faded gray-green. I can’t remember if we had carpet or not. What I remember about the living room is the flamingo pink walls that were there before my mom married my step-dad.

My mom loved knick-knacks, glass, and all things ornamental. The end tables, coffee table, and what-not shelf with the sliding glass doors were blond wood, I’m guessing almond. The front door faced Crystal Road. It was banked on one side by two side-by-side windows draped with white curtains motifed in green leaves and spring flowers. Our sofa (or couch) was brown and plain. To the left of the door and facing the street was a small room. It had been used as a “catch-all” room until Mom and Dad brought me back from Illinois. Then it became my bedroom. I was nine then. When my little brother outgrew his crib Daddy decided to have the attic made into two bedrooms–one for me and one for my little brother. The stairs he had built were pine. He contracted that work but put up the plywood walls himself. Mom had triangle shaped glass shelves in the corners to hold her vases and knick-knacks. The low-slung cabinet with the sliding glass doors held the engraved brandy snifter with the artificial flowers. Our neighbor across the street had given it to them on their wedding day. It said, “Herman and Letha Lipsius, August 5, 1958.”

When my little brother was about a year old my parents hired a professional photographer to come in. The pictures of our little family were put on a Viewmaster type slide reel. The package they ordered contained the slide reels (I forget how many), the viewer, some 5×7 photos and a large 9×12 portrait of my little brother and myself. It was hung on the wall opposite my parents’ bedroom which was on the right side off of the living room. A large television sat on the floor in the corner. Its exterior was walnut brown with gold colored trim. The knobs were the same gold color in the middle with a brown stripe around the outside. Back then, all televisions were viewed in black and white.

The front porch was cement with two metal chairs, each with a flowered cushion, which my dog, Frisky, chewed up when he got loose one day. Our yard was fenced and sloped. Dad had a sidewalk put in the first year I lived there, and he taught me how to ride a bike. We had a cinderblock garage with a door on the front. Johnny (the boy who lived across the street) and I used to play 7-Up on its side. He usually won. We also ran sprint races in the yard, jumping over Mom’s flowers. Sometimes I would trip over the fence bracket she had around them, bending it and crushing the flowers. Then I was in trouble. The porch was painted green and bordered on each side with bushes that I enjoyed jumping over from the porch.

My mom loved flowers. We had two pink Rose of Sharon bushes, irises, hyacinths, and daffodils. The flowers were planted along the fence. There were African violets in the house. There was a peach tree in the yard between the house and garage, and a crab apple tree outside of my parents’ bedroom window. The Griffiths, who lived next to us bordering Concord Road, had a lovely lilac tree, which donated many bouquets to my mom. Mrs. Griffith gave me permission.

The bathroom was between the living room and kitchen on the right. Dad had a white cabinet in the kitchen that had two doors on the bottom, two drawers above that, a shelf, and two drawers above that. What I liked about the cabinet was the sifter that was built in, right in the center of the cabinet. You could set a bowl under it, pour in the flower, and it would sift right into the bowl. They don’t make cabinets like those any more, at least not that I’ve seen.

The walls of the kitchen were white. The stove was black. The double sink was white and there was a counter where the dish drainer sat. The cabinets for the dishes were above the sink area and off to the right toward the back door. They also were white, as was our small rectangular table. The back door faced Roland Road (the spelling has been changed to Ronald, I think).

Around to the back side of the house were two big green doors that had to be pulled open and laid back. They were the entrance to the cellar where stood the washing machine. We had no dryer so clothes were hung on the clothesline, regardless of season. We had baseboard heat and the wooden drying racks inside the house could be pulled out to hang wet clothes on rainy or snowy days. I loved our house. We had many happy times there. I miss the old neighborhood and our neighbors.

Serially Lost Part 2–Writing 101

I thought we were going to be given future assignments to finish this three part series, but since none has been forthcoming, I will follow the lead of some other bloggers and just do it. The first part dealt witht the loss of my mother.

My brother, Herman, was nine years younger than me. When he was about two years old he would run across the lving room in our bungalow in Aston, Pennsylvania, yelling a-a-a-a-adooo! He was mimicking my sneezing as my allergies kept me doing. It was funny and I couldn’t help but laugh.

He was still in a crib, and his had drawers in the bottom. He loved to jump up and down, and every morning he would wake us all up with his bouncing. One morning we heard a loud ker-thump, wham! He broke his bed. The bottom of his bed was now on top of the drawers, which were now broken. It was time for a new bed.

Our dad decided to make the attic into two bedrooms. He did a great job. We had linoleum floors and drawers built into the walls that were about three feet wide and two feet deep. One day the little girl across the street came to play with Herman. They were four years old. Kathy was so cute with pine-cone brown hair and chocolate eyes. Herman and Kathy both loved to color. They started with the coloring books but got bored and decided to decorate Herman’s room. They colored the floor, the headboard of the bed, the walls, and the part of the ceiling they could reach when standing on the bed. When they were done Kathy went home. My mom saw the artwork later and called Kathy’s mom. Kathy needed to come back and help Herman scrub everything.

When I was in high school he was in elementary and I would walk him to school, then head back to the Cambridge High. We lived in Cambridge, Maryland. I loved my little brother but was embarrassed to take him. Teenage pregancy was common and I was afraid people would thik he was mine. Of course that was ridiculous since I would have had to be nine years old when I had him. Many kids thought I was a great big sister because I “took care of my little brother.” They couldn’t have been more wrong.

He was our dad’s only son. I was adopted by our dad so in my self-centered little mind, I wasn’t really his child (when compared to my brother). My dad was good to me, but I was jealous of my little brother. I stole money out of his piggy bank. I dumped my cold mashed potatoes on his plate and told Mom he just didn’t want to eat them. I was not a good big sister. . .until–

It was a warm spring day. Herman had gone down the street to play with one of the kids who lived there. He came back crying because the junior high kid had hit him in the leg with a baseball bat. I was so mad. As I ran out the door my mom asked where I was going. I never talked back to my mom (I knew better) but I said I’d be back in a minute. I grabbed that kid by the shirt front and said, “If you ever touch my brother again I’ll knock you flat. If you want to pick on somebody, you pick on somebody your own size, namely me.” I let go and went home.

Due to my mother’s temper, I ran away from home when I was eighteen. My fiance (thank God we didn’t get married) lived in Westminster, He graduated a couple of days after me and he had a room in a boarding house downtown. I packed my suitcase as full as I could get it and stayed with his parents while I found a job. I was concerned about Herman’s welfare after I left but I just couldn’t stay any more. I left him a note on his bed, telling him I was sorry to leave him with Mom’s temper and promised to try to find a way to stay in touch.

I was gone a month when I had to go home. My mom was driving the fiance’s family crazy with phone calls. I wouldn’t speak to her. When the boyfriend threatened to hurt me I knew it was time to go. My mom sent the youth minister from church to come and get me. We rode the ninety miles in near silence.

When I got home mom told me that Herman had carried that note around in his jeans pocket for weeks.

He grew up to be a Methodist minister and I was so proud of him. He married a sweet lady several years older than himself. He died at the age of forty one due to diabetes, which we didn’t know he had until just a year before his death. I miss him very much.

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