Posted by: preacherjean | March 3, 2009

Just for the heck of it…

This is an old post, but I liked it so I’m putting it here, too.

Gramma’s House

Monday, November 5, 2007

As I was driving up Lexington Avenue on Friday, I noticed that there was a For Sale sign in front of my Gramma’s old house.  I stopped and got a flyer ($299,000–Oh. My. Gosh!) and decided to go to an open house if there was one on Sunday (which there was).  Though I have long fantasized about buying that house, it’s now far out of my price range, so I wanted to go to the open house mostly out of curiosity and not a little nostalgia.

My grandfather was a builder in the Como Park neighborhood in the 50’s and he built this house himself.  When I was little – from age 7 to age 15 when Gramma died – I spent nearly every Sunday over there.   I knew that house like the back of my hand, every nook and cranny, every squeak, every smell, every hiding place.  And all of my memories of that house were happy, unlike my own house.  Gramma provided hugs, cookies, gum, cooking instructions, art supplies, art display galleries (her stove was adorned with Creepy Crawlers that she had GLUED on!), clove smelling glue that she made herself, stories both out of books and out of her memory, a lap.  The house was full of interesting things, from the ragbag in the basement to the dusty trunks in the attic.  It was a magic house.

The pictures on the Edina Realty website showed that the dusty attic and the cold basement had been transformed into warm, carpeted, modern spaces.  The three-season porch, which had contained my Gramma’s rocker with the wide arms that my cousin and I could sit on, had been opened up and was now the formal dining room.  I didn’t have great expectations of finding much left of the house I remembered.

The first thing I noticed when I got there was that the front door hadn’t been changed.  Back in the 50’s they built things solidly, and this was a solid oak door with a fan light.  Upon entering, I noticed that the only things that had changed in the living room (besides the bland rental furniture) were the carpeting and the fireplace.  I think the original fireplace had been wood-burning, but Gramma hated the mess of a fire so she had bought an electric fire with plastic logs.  I loved turning that thing on and listening to the hum of the lights turning around and around inside the plastic logs.  Gramma would have loved the gas insert that now resides under the beautiful (and unchanged) oak mantel that I remembered so well.

The kitchen had undergone only minor changes as well.  I was surprised to see the old cabinets and counters, though the countertop was new.  The former porch hadn’t lost too much of it’s initial character and I admired the ability to use that space year-round.

The basement was a typical finished family room.  There was a nook containing a treadmill that had once been the pantry where I went every Sunday to pick out what I wanted for dinner among such delicacies as Vienna sausages, creamed corn, Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup.  This was also where the storied rag bag was stored.  But behind the new wallboard and paint lay the old basement, with its concrete floor, it’s cinderblock walls painted my Gramma’s beloved green, and the double utility sink still containing evidence of the oil-based paint with which Gramma covered anything that wouldn’t move.  If those green walls could talk, they would tell tales of hide & seek, of mixing concoctions of bleach, blueing (anybody remember blueing?), and laundry soap (who knows why now?), of Creepy Crawler marathons, of dress up sessions (from the rag bag, of course), and of Gramma walking for an hour round and round the basement on rainy days to get her exercise.

Then there was the attic.  I had taken my shoes off at the door and, being optimistic that it would be warm enough for sandals, was barefoot.  It was so strange!  If I hadn’t been barefoot I might not have noticed, but the minute I stepped on the first stair, my feet remembered!  Every step had a different sound and a different bounce and I remembered them all.  I knew that what I would find at the top of those memories wouldn’t be the dark, musty, echoing space with wide pine boards and filled with mysterious boxes and trunks, but for just a heart stopping second, I was 8 years old again and Gramma was right behind me.

When we left and I knew that this was probably the last time I’d ever visit that house, I felt strangely peaceful and oddly happy.  I hope everyone has a Gramma’s House from their childhood and if the chance comes by to visit it again, don’t pass it up.

I love you, Gramma!




  1. Thank you Jean! Your description of the house brought back memories for me. I wish I could’ve seen it also.

    Love ya,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: