Tuesday, June 9, 2015

26 Bennett Road

I know I am not alone in this...as an adult, having dreams that take place in the home of your childhood and these dreams creating the desire to visit that home to see how much it has changed or hasn't changed from what you remember.

On some of my trips back to Indiana, I would drive around the old neighborhood, past my old house and wish I could go inside. The neighborhood has gotten larger but many of the houses I remember from my youth are still there.

The Colonel and I have just returned from another trip to Indiana and this time, when we drove through my old neighborhood, the lady who lives in my early childhood home was at her mailbox. I stopped to talk with her. I introduced myself and The Colonel and told her I had lived in her house as a young child.

She asked me when I lived there and what my family name was. I told her I had lived there from my birth (1961) until 1970. When I told her my family name she said she recognized it. She and her family moved into the house around 1975.

I asked if I could take pictures of the outside of the house, she said yes and would I like to see the inside too.


I couldn't believe my good luck. Finally, this wish of mine was coming true!

Before we went into the house I noticed that the front yard and porch were much smaller than I remembered (a theme that ran throughout the tour) and the driveway that I learned to ride a bike on was not as long or dangerously steep as I had recalled.

As I walked up to the house on the sidewalk I remembered the day I stood there in my underwear and my mom's high heels. Mom told me not to move. I thought I was in trouble. She just wanted to get the camera and capture that moment.

When I finally stepped into the door I was almost overwhelmed by memories that began to flood my mind.

The current resident had a little bench and stripped wallpaper in the entry way where my mother had a marble top desk and painted walls. You can see the back wall of the entry way behind my sisters and I. We were facing the living room to the right to the entry way in the picture. The floors in the house were still the original hard wood ones.

The living room looked very much like I remembered, except for the wall color and furniture. I looked into the corner, right of the large, picture window, across from the couch and recalled watching the 1969 Lunar Landing on a television nestled there.

The homeowner had some potted plants in the window that was across the room. My mother always had a potted plant in that area too. You can see my mother's plant in the Christmas photo below.

We walked down the hall to the bedrooms. I swear the hallway was much longer when as a 3 1/2-year old, I combat crawled with a broken leg, to my bedroom at the end of the hall.

The first bedroom down the hall on the left was my parent's bedroom. They took the smallest of the three bedrooms to make room enough in the other bedrooms for their eight children's beds and cribs (my youngest brother was born in 1967).

The lady of the house uses this as a guest room for her visitors. My parent's bed was placed in the same area her guest bed is located.

The next bedroom we toured was the house's biggest one. It was the current owner's master. I remember there being two sets of bunk beds (against the windows) and a crib at times in this room when I lived at 26 Bennett Road.

The final bedroom was being used as a quilting room by the current lady of the house. Of course it was another bedroom for us kids. I remember more cribs and bunk beds in this room too. I do recall a set of twin beds in there and a crib or two in the early days; the days when it was just me and my four sisters, before my brothers began arriving. The twin beds were placed on each side of the window. The lady of the house didn't want me to take a picture of this room because she thought it was too messy....did I let that stop me? I snapped it when she and The Colonel began making their way to the family/dining room (of course I knew the way, and followed soon after).

I was taken aback by the family/dining room as soon as I walked through the louvered doors. The room had not changed at all. The same paneled walls were there with the built in book shelf. The fireplace was the same. The pantry door was the same (the pantry was so much smaller than I remembered. It had held at least four or five little girls holding a seance, trying to contact Santa Claus or Abe Lincoln. We must have been tiny).

I recalled one of my older sisters and me peeking through the louvered doors into the living room and discovering that there was no Santa. It was only my parents and grandparents setting all the presents under the tree.

My mother had our dining table in front of the fireplace and our couch near the bay of windows; opposite of how the room was set up now.

The kitchen was almost exactly the same. The double ovens you see in the old photo above were taken out and replaced with a dishwasher (my mom never had one there) and the cabinets were a darker stain. The counter top was the same. I remember seeing its star and sparkle pattern as a child.

I cannot forget the bathrooms of the house. There were two of them. The green tiled bathroom (yes the original tile and tub are still there) was "Mom's" bathroom. It was the bathroom where we all were bathed and brushed our teeth. There was always a diaper changing table under the window of the bathroom. That tub looks so tiny now. How did Mom get five girls in there at one time? We would always look at the rose tiles while in the tub.

The bathroom next to "Mom's" was "Dad's" bathroom. We kids rarely used this one. I do remember one time my sister Lori had sand from the sandbox in her eyes and Mom carried her in to Dad's bathroom, laid her in the tub and rinsed the sand out of her eyes. Dad's bathroom had a pedestal sink next to the toilet, that had a mirrored medicine cabinet over it. On the opposite wall was another mirror. When you looked in the mirrors they reflected one another so the illusion was seeing an infinite number of yourselves, going on forever. "Dad's" bathroom had changed more than "Mom's"
had. The floor tile was different (I think), as well as the vanity.

I wanted to go into the basement of my childhood home (because that figures in some of my dreams too) but that was not part of the tour. I did look out of the window to the backyard. It was roughly the same as I remember, just much smaller.

Now that I have finally seen the inside of 26 Bennett Road again (and am very pleased it looks much like I remember) I do not think it will feature in many more of my future dreams.

We gave our thanks to the lady of the house and said our goodbyes and then continued to drive around my childhood neighborhood.

The Colonel and I drove around "The Circle". The Circle was a court or cul de sac that was down the street from 26 Bennett Road. As kids we would ask Mom is we could ride our bikes to and around The Circle. She would always tell us to be careful. It seemed the ride to The Circle was a long one and The Circle was enormous. In reality, it was just one empty lot past our house and was of average size.

We drove down Bennett Road to where I hoped the "Bike/School Path" still remained. It did, but again, I remembered it being so much longer. It was a narrow, paved path that cut between two houses and connected Bennett Road to a corner of the property of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, my childhood school and church. I can recall walking that path many times, going to and from school. On weekends we would sometimes ride our bikes back and forth on the path to take advantage of the slight dip in its middle. I am so glad the path is still there today.

It is true, you  can never go back home, but you can revisit old memories, especially when things stay the same or change very little from what you remember.

1 comment:

  1. I love this. How lucky you were to get to go in the house! I'd love the chance to visit the houses I grew up in. I fear I'd probably start crying or do something embarrassing.