Sunday, February 5, 2012

My Childhood Home

I grew up in the coolest house --ever!

My parents hired Glen Galloway, a Texas architect, to design the mid-century modern. Actually, this house looks surprisingly like ours Check it out: (I'm sure there's a way to make this a shorter link....or something...but I'm not that geeky).

The house itself was gorgeous: split level, high ceilings, wood floors, walls of windows (there was a small garden outside my bedroom window), two fireplaces, screened porch on top, covered patio on the bottom. All set on around three acres of a wooded hillside. We left our home when I was in my teens. I'm not sure why. The only real difference (room-wise) was that my brother and I no longer shared a bathroom. Having her own bathroom is practically a necessity for a teenage girl, but I would have gladly sacrificed an en-suite bath to stay in that house.

Many of the aspects I loved about the house weren't actually in the house.

Like The Great Slide (little kids are so accurately descriptive!)...

The back of the property was called The Glen, which seems a little presumptuous when you check out the synonyms: valley, canyon, gorge, abyss. You can't have an abyss with only three acres. Abysses (I prefer "abyssi" but it doesn't appear in the dictionary) require a minimum of fifteen acres, and they tend to be bottomless, which means I can't tell you the exact size (ie volume) of a fifteen acre abyss. Which I couldn't do anyway because I suck at math. Which is why I taught English. Which should make you wonder why I've started so many sentences with "which."

Bottom line, it wasn't really a glen. It was more of an overgrown ravine. Still, it provided hours of exploration and adventure.

The Great Slide was on the far side of the property from the house. At the top, it looked long and hazardous, which was part of the overall attraction. The Slide was a worn dirt trail that zipped down the hill, created by lots of little butts on flattened cardboard, that (hopefully) missed the jutting rocks and tree roots. We would slide down, then race back up the hill for a repeat performance.

Or the grotto-esque area we didn't have a name for....

On the other side of a short chain link fence near the slide, our neighbor's property, there was an old greenhouse, with most of the glass panes broken or missing. It felt exotic and mysterious. Beyond the greenhouse, someone built a stone staircase and high stone wall. Vines hung over the wall like a veil separating the secret enclosure from every day reality. It was a fairyland.

Or The Great Tree....

Not only did we have unlimited access to The Great Slide, we also lived across the street from The Great Tree. Quercus virginiana aka Live Oak. They are lovely old trees, with sprawling, climber-friendly branches. Apres-dinner excursions often included The Great Tree, which my brother, my father, and myself climbed. My mother would stand at the base of the tree, telling us all to be careful. (NB: My parents married rather late in life, especially for the 50's, so my father was around 50 years old when he climbed with us.)

English: Live oak tree in Geneva, Alabama. One...

One of the interesting things inside the house was our basement/bomb shelter, built into the side of the hill. There were big shelves (more like you think they actually planned that?), plenty of room to move around (or at least play in), jugs of water, canned food, blankets, and handguns locked away in a trunk (children can be quite industrious when they want a peek inside something). A mysterious and exciting niche. Little did I know, my survivalist father was preparing for invasion and nuclear war. Ahhh, the clarity of hindsight. ('Nuther NB: You will hear much more about my parents! And the house. And my childhood. So don't freak out on me, OK?)

Unlike so many kids today, we spent most of our free time outside, exercising our bodies and imaginations.   The stone walls of our "house" were laid by my father. The screened porch served as a school when it rained. The glen was anything we wanted it to be. Everything seemed special...magical...exciting....

Like I said, I grew up in the coolest house -- ever!

Do you have a beloved place from your childhood? Is there a place from your past that is full of mystery and memories?

Have you been there?

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Yes! I've been there, Claire!