by sarahmfry, October 12, 2008
1803 Josephine Street

First, I'd like to say that this is a happy post. Not one of regret or sadness. Even the tears are happy. There's something about a homestead....a place to point back to as family roots. That's what 1803 is. Roots. I'd love to do a post sometime about my memories of the "80-acre Kansas farm" my dad grew up on. Some of you have heard him refer to it in his testimonies.
It has been fun to hear you all share you memories of this home. So many people have told me stories about dating in our living room, making cookies for their boyfriends (One even scheming of laxative-laced cookies when things didn't work out so well!!).
We went home for a very quick homecoming trip this past weekend. I guess driving down Josephine street just reminded me of the old house. For those of you who don't know, this is the house at GBS that I and my siblings grew up in. My folks lived there nearly 30 years. The house is no longer there, but it gave us many happy memories and some great roots. By the way - Mom and Dad bought a house in Colerain and are tooting around there like they've lived there forever. Dad hauls wood in his little tractor and tinkers in his shop. Mom has gardens upon gardens - a koi pond and lots of lovely outdoor spots. They're as happy as if they had good sense, as Dad would say.

I almost regretted starting this post. My mind has been shuffling through boxes and boxes of mental photographs. Thousands of them. Now where in the world do you begin telling about a lifetime? Do you start in the piano room, where we toiled away at combined hundreds and hundreds of hours on pianos, violins and trumpets? With that old 7-foot Chickering sitting at the foot of the long flight of stairs with the stained glass windows at the first landing. Do you start in the basement, with the old fashioned boilers and coal bin? Or the low-ceilinged third floor train room - where we would spend happy quiet evenings watching dad build a miniature world - with the smell of hot tracks and alcohol on Q-tips as he cleaned the engines.

If I had to choose the most memory-rich room, I think it would be an impossible task. The living room (as all the rooms were) was tall and grand with 20-year old velvet wallpaper. The fireplace had authentic Rookwood tiles with pictures of elegantly dressed ladies in fabulous dresses. I think the chandelier in this room was Bavarian. This was the Christmas tree room. What fun it was when we traded in our squatty leaning Christmas tree for a humongous tree that did the room justice. Christmas after Christmas, I would stand on the old radiator by the huge windows and decorate the back of the tree with gold instruments. Then we'd sit on the couch in the dark with the lights on. (You guys remember that year we had the lights hooked up to the little music thingy? I think De almost lost her mind as the lights blinked hysterically to the tune of Jingle Bells. I kinda liked it, though.)

Speaking of evenings on that couch.....Only the walls could tell the stories of the countless couples that did their courting on that couch. I'm sure I won't tell! 'nuff said.

Hmmm...lets move to the kitchen. Mom used to make themed meals and decorate. I remember stirfry and rice with cups of hot tea...the chopstix and lantern light. We'd sit there for hours and hours...talking about school and boys and lessons and life. Mom and dad would sit and listen. And listen. As we went on and on. I believe that little round clawfoot table is where we found our voices. The ability to speak and be heard and understood and know that what we say is valuable - no matter how crazy. Oh, The meals we cooked in this little kitchen...the weddings we catered! The concert on the lawn receptions. The food prepared for special guys (and gals!) I even remember spending part of a night on the kitchen floor with some little kitten I thought I loved. (It was the rare pet that made it through the back door to the kitchen - and woe be it to any animal that ventured past that point!)

You could go up the back servant stairs from the kitchen. I realize now what a rare privilege it was that this house had enough bedrooms for each of us kids to have our own. Mom gave us the freedom to decorate and paint and create to our hearts' content. I was pink. De was blue. Oh...the pinks I came up with! But my humongous bedroom overlooking the street was something else. As a young teenager I'd light up that blue-gas fireplace and sit there like I was something elegant and ageless - dreaming dreams of life and love. I remember in College as I began to change my hobbies - and the piles of books started appearing all over the room. I'd stack them along the radiator where the white sheers hung. The walls had huge pink cabbage roses and the antique furniture was dark green. The light would shine in the many windows in these rosy patches that made life feel happy. It was in this beautiful room that David eventually proposed (And I DO mean EVENTUALLY!) I'd better move on...

I remember jumping in piles of leaves in the yard, playing in the huge sandbox, searching the house and the grounds for the underground railroad tunnel we thought we'd find. But one of my absolute most precious memories is sitting on the warm radiator in the Dining room - looking out the bay window that framed the elegant Cincinnati skyline. I'd sit there and watch the fresh snow - falling down in the lamplight from the park. The sparkling blanket - before anyone had stepped on it. I'd sit there on the steam radiator and toast myself in the dark room and watch.

I knew that it was insane to begin this memoir. There's not a good place to stop. I know it's all obnoxiously sentimental. What can I say? Those of you who also have memories there will understand - the rest of you may just go on being bugged by my sappiness.
I am very, very grateful for the happy memories. And now we're making loads of new wonderful memories in the new home place. I want to show you pictures of it sometime.
My kids have not experienced living in one house all their lives. Kayla is only 6 and she's already lived in 4 houses in 4 different states! But it doesn't matter what house you're in - it's the togetherness that matters.

(Wow. It's too much to write now. Every window, every door, every room - every inch of this grand place has a story to tell. Rich and beautiful memories. Maybe later - after these tears go away.)


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