204 North Elizabeth

204 North Elizabeth

My early childhood home was tucked in at the end of the street. There were a couple houses just a bit further in, but it never quite felt that way. At first, it was just a smaller two story home, but my father added an addition. In the new area was a good-sized front room. It had a huge picture window that unfortunately birds often mistakenly ran into. It had a new bathroom, and an office with a separate door outside so visitors to see my dad could come in that way. My father was a Justice of the Peace, and I suppose he sometimes needed privacy. We would hide behind the bushes, watching and giggling, as newlywed couples came out of our house after my father had performed a short ceremony for them. We did not realize all of the people that came to see him didn’t come for a happy reason.

The yard was big and full of all kinds of nooks and crannies. It was a special place for children. There were four apple trees that surrounded our wonderful playhouse. It was very special. It had a door and windows that really opened and closed. And electricity! It was a perfect place for tea parties and raising the family of “Daddy Long Legs” spiders that I kept in a canning jar. I had even decided it would be a good place to live when I ran away at the ripe old age of five. I packed a small suitcase and informed my mother of my intentions. When asked what I would do for food, I let her know that I knew how to walk to my grandmother’s house. Everyone knew my grandma loved to feed people. Then the glitch came, my mother informed me that she had told my grandmother I was not allowed to come there to eat. I decided it might be best to just unpack and stay.

I learned about the “circle of life” at an early age in that home. We had many pets, and besides my dog Penny, my favorite was a rabbit. I dressed him in baby clothes and held him for hours. He ran free in the yard most of the time. Unfortunately, when a heat wave came, my well-dressed bunny, whose name has left my memory bank, faded in the heat and passed away in my arms. I was heartbroken. Luckily, down the ravine from our house, just a short walk away, was a pile of discarded crosses and flowers from the cemetery up the other side of the ravine. We collected what we needed from the pile for our rabbit funeral. My usually gruff father always showed his tender side when we lost a pet. He knelt over the freshly dug grave, prayed, and performed a very proper ceremony. We knew things lived and things died. A hard lesson, but learning it through my many pets has helped me many times over the years.

My father never finished that house until after we had moved away. I would miss my room upstairs that seemed so big back then, but really only had room for two twin beds with a bookcase built into the wall between them and a dresser. It was so hard to leave that playhouse behind and the rest of that wonderful yard. What a place of childhood merriment. It was the place where my cousin Sally taught me to ride a bike after everyone else gave up on me. My sister and I had even trapped a chipmunk out by the back shed. Unfortunately, that Chippy bit her. I finally gave into the fear that she may die of rabies and told my parents. It was not an easy decision, after all having a chipmunk would have been pretty neat.

Well, another year has come and gone. A new year brings a time of reflection for many, and it does for me. As I grow older, I seem to think more and more of the special times and places of my past. These are what helped shape who I am. I think it’s a good time to share some of those special places and memories with those we care about. And it’s time to make some new memories!

 Published in Bottom Line News & Views on January 17th, 2018

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