Since I live just two blocks from the neighborhood you describe, it's fun to read about what it was like for you growing up there. And since we both went to the same high school, it's fun to imagine you there, even if you were sad and wore black that fateful day.
I love that area (which is a bit higher end than my starter-home neighborhood), and would move there if I could afford it. But my favorite part is driving through there on my way over the Nickel Bridge, which is my VERY favorite drive in Richmond. Hmmm..... Perhaps I need to scout out houses on Riverside drive.... Hmmmm...... (Like I could afford any of THOSE, either!)
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Thursday, July 12, 2007
What is probably the first of many posts about life's passages.
I still can’t get hotmail to open at home - boo hoo - but I can go in early to work and do the email thing, for I was triumphant yesterday, after 2 hours, added to Tuesday’s 2 hours, of chatting and unplugging and powering down and then powering up of half a dozen different electronic gadgets and gluing a telephone to my ear while different wizards and gurus spelled out DOS commands over their crackling cell phones against the backdrop hum of the two library servers. I got lots of stretching in as I reached behind and under and around equipment, slid against the floor, looking for an ISB port. I got in a good upper body workout too, as I hauled in a spare 50 lbs of monitor and computer from room to room to test the lines coming into the building. Just your average day as a director of a small public library, trying to keep its public network running during summer storms. It also looks like the cable TV got kiboshed too, since I can’t get it to either pick up TV or run the ancient-of-days video player. Let’s hope I can get the cable guy to take care of that.
Still and all, I was really doing the happy dance, along with singing the happy song, all around the library as I watched those public computers boot up and connect. Our website is down, it’s truly a jury rigged repair, but it is a repair.
Happy news came after I got home. too, from Sister, who had had my parents’ house inspected and found only smallish repairs need be done. The estate sales folk had been by as well and assured her that once we had sorted through the truly personal things, they would take care of all the rest - up to the donating of canned goods to food banks. This suddenly lifts about 25% of the load off our shoulders, leaving us confident that we can be done by the end of the month. But it also nails home, once again, the utter and complete change that has/is/will happen(ing/ed) to our family. When Sister told me the auction house hauled away the grandfather clock and dining room furniture that nail actually pricked my heart, even though I knew those two pieces were going. I loved that clock. If I had the $ and the space....
I was almost grown when Daddy finally bought it and it stood in the foyer of our nice 4 square house on Westover Hills Blvd., just up from the river in Southside Richmond. When I think of home, that’s the house I think of, even though I was 11 when we moved there. The other places we lived were such obviously temporary stops on my father’s economic climb. They were starter houses and movin’on up houses, and they were in the county suburbs. This was a real city house within walking distance of everything you could want: school, library, grocery store, movie theater, dry cleaners, even a ten cent store with penny candy sold in bins and sewing notions, Red Heart yarn, lawn handkerchiefs, china bibelots, and even a tiny little hardware section. This was where you could take your doll and help her try on new clothes! There was a Standard Drugstore that had a monkey living in a big cage down in the basement floor. There was also a Rexal Drugstore owned by Mr. Cox, who was our next door neighbor but one. They had a soda fountain and sometimes I’d go there on the way home from school to buy milkshakes. The back of the school was really a city park with tennis courts and I took tennis lessons there one summer, till my mama found a way to kibosh that. She was very anti-exercise and her poor sad body is the result of that life long hatred of motion. They also held fireworks displays on Halloween night and 4th of July.
The Boulevard there is divided, with a lovely tree filled median and large shady trees in many of the yards that flank the road on either side. There was a little park just across the Blvd. and down New Kent, where a spring had been boxed in with a stone tap and you could fill up jugs with cold artesian water. That is where I smoked my first, purloined cigarette, one summer, while sitting in a patch of poison ivy. Sometimes, justice is swift.
I lived in that neighborhood, and in that house, through several distinct stages of my life. I watched the Beatles on TV that fateful Sunday night in February of 1964. I sewed my first prom dress in the basement of that house. I sat on the porch in summertime with my parents and pretended to be a grown up, as we sipped coffee and watched traffic go by through the screen of shrubbery. I had my last childhood illness in that house – mumps - contracted just days before I was to have my tonsils out, to prevent the constant sore throats of winter. Afterwards, though, I never had another sore throat and so, have my tonsils still.
I learned to drive in that house. I learned to type on an old Royal typewriter in that house. I learned about budgets and checkbooks and interest rates from my dad in that house. I fell in love while living in that house, and wept my broken heart into my pillow there as well. And went to school wearing mourning black the day after my high school boyfriend broke up with me.
That house was made for decorating at holiday time. It had a long wide staircase with newel post at the base. It had a wide foyer with a jeweled oriental rug spread across its floors. We always had gloriously pretty Christmas trees, for the ceilings were high and the rooms were spacious. And one Christmas, just before I moved away, Daddy bought a lovely Grandfather Clock. It was a slick dark brown wood with a little ornamental fence around the top, behind which they kept the key. The clock face was neither too elaborate nor plain. The moon phases marched across its forehead and there were pretty scrolls etched into its cheeks, but it wasn’t gaudy. Its melody was the Westminster Chimes and it sang "O Lord our God/Be Thou our guide/That by thy help/No foot may slide." It chimed the quarter hours and bonged out the hour 24 times a day. It required winding once a week - three different weights had to be lifted. It’s only worked this past year if I was visiting, for neither parent is strong enough, or even tall enough any more, to reach the key on its ledge.
posted by Bess |
This is the one piece of furniture from my parents’ house that I would like to own, but it’s also a high end thing that will bring a good price. I can’t afford to buy it outright even if I had a place to put it right now, and we want this sale to generate as much as possible so that Dad can live in the maximum comfort and ease. Things are just things, even if they are precious things. People are more precious, which makes saying goodbye to that clock a lot easier.
And so. I’ll be back up there on Friday evening and staying the whole weekend. Even with the help of the estate liquidators, we have lots to do and Dad needs tons of gentling. My fervent prayer is that I’ll continue to hear what needs to be heard so that I can say what needs to be said as we plow through this phase of life. It’s hard, but it somehow feels so good. In fact, it feels exactly like going into labor. It feels like it’s time to make a move and we’re making it.