Mr. Monkey and I have lived in seven houses since we’ve been married and all of them were decades old, one or two of them closer to a century old. We tend to prefer older houses (give us a Craftsman with original detailing and we are in real estate heaven) so it isn’t too surprising that when we decided to buy our “forever or at least very long time house” we ended up with something that was built in 1926.
This house is solid and cozy and would be a total nightmare if either of us ever ended up disabled or with limited mobility. The stairs are narrow and steep. To make it ADA compliant would require first setting it on fire and burning it entirely to the ground to start over. But it feels very much like home to me and I love imagining my kids growing up here.
A friend of mine recently shared that she had a 1939 phone book for our area and was able to look up the listing for the house. She was able to give me the names of the people who lived here in 1939 (Raymond and Marie), which led me to search for them on the internet and discovering that Marie was born in 1906 and Raymond in 1911. Marie ended up outliving him by 18 years and now the two of them are buried together in a small town in Minnesota.
Another friend posted a link to the 1940 Census where I discovered that Raymond and Marie had moved out of the house and were replaced by a different couple (Charles and Rosalind) who were 30 and 33, respectively. They did not have any children, but did have a 21 year old border living in the house. The young woman border worked as a store clerk. Charles worked for a railroad. I can’t quite make out their last name on the Census record. I wish I could. I wonder if they ever had children. I wonder what happened to Mae, the border.
Having names to put with the earlier years of the house makes it impossible for me to stop wondering about all of the other families that have called this place home. My son is grouchy tonight, so he is stomping all over the place. On our old wood floors, it sounds like a charge of elephants. I wonder how many other exasperated mothers have told their children to stop stomping in this place. How many babies has this house seen? Have there been babies even born here? How many first steps, first words, first days of school, first dates has this house seen?
In our little backyard, I’m growing a garden and we have grass but no trees. The children wish we had a tree so we could build a tree house. I’m curious what the back yard looked like when Marie or Rosalind lived here. Did it ever have trees? I think about planting a tree for the next family’s children to enjoy, long after I’m gone.
It is a wonder to imagine all the life that has happened in this little yellow house.