Wayback Wednesday: Where it all Began

Christmas Eve, 2002 (no snow)
Christmas Eve, 2002 (no snow)

It seemed appropriate to begin my place-based Wayback Wednesday sub-theme with the place where it all started for me: the house where I grew up – which is, in fact, also the house my dad grew up in. (His family moved there when he was two and he never left.) It is not, as the picture shows, in any way fancy, though I feel that having the same home for multiple generations of a family somehow implies grandiosity. It is just a normal not-any-particular-style house. (But it’s awesome and special because it is, y’know, ours.) I often refer to it as a Colonial Ranch because – unseen in this picture – the single-story addition added to the back in the late 1990s to accommodate my dad’s disability gives the ground floor a sort of ranch house vibe, while the two-story front is more Colonial Revival-ish looking than anything else.

Incidentally, one of the cool things about the neighborhood where I grew up – on the South Side (Fifth Ward, represent!) of Binghamton, NY – is that it grew very organically, so none of the houses look the same. It’s exactly the opposite of a tract home or McMansion development, which is one of the things I love about it. Every home has its own unique character.

I picked this photo – and its companion below – not because they’re particularly old, which they aren’t, but because they’re so typically Binghamton. If the city had an official cliché, it would be “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes” and these pictures illustrate that perfectly. The one above was taken right before we went to bed on Christmas Eve, while the other was taken the following morning, after an unexpected overnight snowfall surprised us with a white Christmas.

Christmas morning, 2002 (snow!)
Christmas morning, 2002 (snow!)

(I also like these pictures because my Cavalier, which I loved and still miss, is in them.)

Weather aside, these pictures do pretty much show the way the house looked when I was growing up. It’s a little different now, because the front porch is bigger, and it had been changed from its earliest incarnation long before I was born, when the room was built over the garage. (Next time I’m home I’ll have to poke around to see if there is a photo from before that addition, which would have been some time in the 1950s.) As far as I’m concerned, however, adding that room was a pretty big deal, because it was my room.

And on that note, I’ll stop writing… with the oh-so-exciting teaser that next week’s Wayback Wednesday post will go inside that very same addition with a photo or two of my bedroom through the years. Stay tuned to find out what now-embarrassing celebrity posters adorned my walls!

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Do you have photos from your past that you’re willing to share – and a blog to post them on? Play along with Wayback Wednesday by linking back to this post or sharing in the comments so we can snoop into your past, too!

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8 thoughts on “Wayback Wednesday: Where it all Began

  1. Common Loon July 28, 2011 / 9:37 am

    Is it too early to type this? Before it was your room, it was your Aunt’s room. And often she felt a certain special connection to you because of that (as in, I remember multiple conversations where she was that specific). Nice thought as her b-day approaches 🙂

    • Sarah July 28, 2011 / 9:45 am

      Not too early to mention at all… I had actually tried to work that in, but it sounded awkward for some reason, so I ended up leaving it out. Do you have any sense of how old your mom was when it became her room? Because I really have no idea if Grandpa & Grandma added it right away – like in the 1940s – or if it came a fair bit later.

  2. Shannon July 28, 2011 / 9:47 am

    It’s the purple Cav!

  3. Eileen July 28, 2011 / 10:33 am

    It never ceases to amaze me how much this house has shaped my world view – of “normal,” tranquil, happy.

    When buying our house my criteria included things like sidewalks, being able to walk to the grocery store and elementary school. I preferred two story houses over one. And I don’t think the number of people need to equal the number of
    bathrooms.

    I wanted a neighborhood that feels like a real community. I’m not a fan of fences. I want to stand on the back patio, shout my kids names and have them come bouncing home. I like to know my neighbors.

    I also have discovered that I have no desire for formal – comfortable, lived in those are words I use to describe our house – which can sometimes mean cluttered or messy, but that’s life. I hate the idea of entire rooms that rarely if ever are used.

    Anyway, I love our home. I love that the cellar door frame holds generations of measurements. It makes me sad to think someday some other family will live there but then I wonder who they will be, and hope that they’ll love it as much as we do.

    I also wonder if my bedroom will finally be a walk in closet? 😉

  4. Mom July 28, 2011 / 1:51 pm

    Beautiful post, Sarah, and lots of nice thoughts!! As I recall the telling, Anne’s room was added when she was about 12-13 by our predecessors Hughie & Dorothy when the eldest (as we know it) Grandma Heffern moved in. She got Jimmy’s (then Brian’s, then Eileen’s, then Dad’s office, and now guest) room and Jimmy got the little room, which has been a nursery, sewing room, catch all, Eileen’s room, and now D’s. It will remain the littlest kid’s room until they all outgrow coming to Grandma’s house. May never become a closet as I’ve now retired and donated a huge portion of my wardrobe 🙂

    And, “comfortable” and “lived in” do describe this home, and thus it remains. A friend of a neighbor, who now has teenagers, commented the other day that I’d once told her that “yards survive children”. She finds it hard to imagine my now gardens resembling a park and baseball fields, but alas that is true too.

    Our parents gave us and taught us LOVE and from that ensued the happiness and tranguility and the host of memories — so nice to recall ….. And I can’t wait to add the latest little one’s measurement to that door frame!!

  5. Jennifer Kropelin July 28, 2011 / 1:52 pm

    I know I have mentioned it before, so here I go again – I LOVED your room and always thought it was the coolest bedroom of anyone I knew. Perhaps a Robbie Benson poster or Debbie Boone album cover lingers in there somewhere?

  6. Mom July 28, 2011 / 5:36 pm

    Jennifer: those adornments will live only in Sarah’s memory (and/or photos), as the room “grew up” when Sarah left after college. Why, I remember her exclamation upon seeing the new decor: “Why didn’t you do this when I lived here?” (or something to that effect ). The pictures and MY memory hold the answer!!

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