Childhood Home

Someone in an online group recently asked us for memories of the house we grew up in. I lived in 10 different homes before I was 18, in various parts of the U.S., so I don’t have a single childhood home. While I liked some of them, I don’t feel a strong attachment to any of the houses that I lived in.

I do have fond memories of my paternal grandparents‘ homes. Two homes. Their own house was in a small town in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And for years, my grandfather ran a state nursing home in the nearby mountains, a job that came with the use of a large house on the property.

My father and his brother grew up in the house in town. It was built about 1900, a modest three-bedroom home that would have originally housed a coal mining family. (In fact, my grandfather had worked for the mines from age 11, but was no longer in mining by the time my father was born.) This house was decorated in a style I think of as Italian Grandmother, with brightly colored walls, thick oriental carpets, chintz or chenille on the furniture, handmade afghans, and drapes with enormous floral patterns. Jesus and Mary looked down at you from portraits (some of them paint-by-number) on most walls, and from little “shrines” here and there. Each room had a crucifix. The basement was filled with the most amazing things….

The house in the mountains was very different. It was an enormous Four Square, with four stories, and enough bedrooms for an army. It had gorgeous mahogany woodwork! I remember a laundry chute, but I also have a vague memory of a secret passage that involved scary climbing in the dark. On the grounds was an orchard of apple and pear trees, the state nursing home my grandfather superintended, a chapel for the elderly residents, vast gardens with a lot of pansies, and, best of all, the Haunted House. At least, that’s what my sisters and I called it. It was the old, decommissioned nursing home, but it was a big, ornate, gloomy 1880s Victorian mansion in decrepit shape. We weren’t supposed to go inside without a parent. Of course, we often sneaked in anyway.

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 )

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: