prelude to the long awaited kitchen tour part 2

think back to a time when apron clad women would hang out the laundry while chatting with a neighbor on the other side of a chain link fence.  they chat about the weather while their children play together in the yard or walk to the nearby drugstore for a little something from the soda fountain.  they might stop home on an errand to the bakery across the street  for a loaf of bread for dinner before father comes home,  hanging his fedora on the hat stand by the door.  evenings are spent gathered around the radio listening to little orphan annie before tucking the children safely in to bed for the night.  pearl harbor is still a few years off in the distance, the atomic age is yet unheard of.  life is simple and uncomplicated.

it was during this era that an architect by the name of edgar strong built a lovely brick home in the colonial revival style.  he built two actually, side by side, selling one and living in the other.   i was now sitting in the driveway of the one that he had sold.  if i continued to look ahead at the detached garage, and the chain link fence with the sweet autumn clematis spilling over the side, i remained in the vintage era of the mid-30’s.

however, if i looked into the rear-view mirror of my realtor’s truck i saw a garrish mark left by modern progress of the 1950’s:

a one way street that became the access road to highway I-244. in seeing the busy street with a steep embankment on the other side of it, and a highway at the bottom of that,  i really didn’t want to get out of the car to look at this house.  while the house itself was lovely, i wasn’t crazy about the location.  we were here though, and this was the last one on the list, i figured i might as well go in and have a look.

as soon as we went through that side door into the kitchen i saw the wood floors, the original paned windows,  a beautiful white mantel fireplace, the hexagonal subway tile in the bathroom, the for-real dormer windows, the solid wood doors with the glass knobs.  standing in the backyard, i noticed the spirea bush in bloom, the shrub roses beginning to bud, and the old fashioned daylilies nodding in the side yard.  whoever had lived here, years ago, had planted these things with a great deal of care.  the noise of the highway was no longer noticeable and the location no longer seemed to pose a problem. within twenty minutes  i was head over heels in love with this little house.  it provided everything that we needed and wanted: formal dining room, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, wood floors and all.  this was it.

back inside, i discussed final details with our realtor while leaning against the kitchen counter.    the little vintage kitchen was perfect.  well, almost perfect.  just prior to being sold, the house had been a rental property and the kitchen had been the victim of a tacky update.  while the architecture of the vintage era was still intact, the counters, floor, and backsplash had been hastily covered in just enough granite and tumbled tile to be considered modern, but not enough to be considered tasteful.  something would have to be done.  this was not too big of a problem though, as we really wanted something we could restore. unlike our original pick in AR, this house had the big $$ projects already out of the way.  all that needed to be done was some minor (haha) cosmetic work to get it back to the way it had been when those roses were planted out back.

by that afternoon we had a contract on the place.  since it was already empty, we were able to keep our original closing date and move in according to our original schedule.  we enjoyed our first dinner under our new roof camped out in the empty living room with a celebratory bottle of wine and a take-out pizza.  when we began moving our antique and vintage furniture in over the weekend we were both pleasantly astonished at how “at home” everything seemed to look.  in our other newer home we were constantly at a loss as to where and how to place our growing collection of antiques.  nothing seemed to look quite right.  everything seemed out of place.   it was years before we felt like we were truly home.  here, in just a matter of  hours we had settled in and felt we had been living there for years. this spring will mark three years that we have been here and we both agree they have been some of the happiest in our marriage.

from time to time people will comment about the location.  i recall describing to someone where we lived and was met with “ew. over there by the highway?” the response really put a bee in my bonnet.   just like virgina lee burton’s little house, our house has a story, and her “location” is just a part of that story.  there was once a time when she was settled in a quiet spot,  in a simpler era, before the city began to grow in and crowd around her.

our little house too, is sound, and strong, and very well built.   we are fiercely proud of her and hope she doesn’t hear any of those comments made about her location.  she is actually quite sensitive.  personally the location has proved to be perfect for us.  we treasure the few remnants of what used to be:

the historical route 66,

and ann’s bakery (building with the awnings) in it’s original location, dating two years before our little house, and with it’s vintage neon sign.

the street and the houses on it are still quite lovely:

as is our little house.  she and those around here  have seen a lot in their time. a world war, the dawn of the nuclear age,  the civil rights movement, the assassination of a president.  we often sit at the breakfast table and wonder what sort of conversations were had here in the years past.

from time to time we also hear rumors of the prestigious private university a few blocks south of us wanting to buy up all the property to the highway.  the first time i heard that i nearly cried.  what will happen to our little house?  then i realized that if the houses would have to go,  perhaps ours too will make a journey and move back to the country.  to a spot on top of a hill, with daisies, and cherry blossoms growing all around.

we’ll see what happens.  until then, we’re quite happy here and quite contented to stay.


5 Responses to “prelude to the long awaited kitchen tour part 2”

  1. I love this! I have driven past your little house literally all my life. I love those little houses. Always have. It makes me smile when I drive past now and think that you and Marco are enjoying one of them! One of these days, I will be dropping in! 🙂

  2. Love it! A good reminder to me that often when we think something is perfect, and it doesn’t work out….something better is waiting.

  3. Oh I just loved this. So much history. I’m so glad she has a family who loves her.

  4. I love this. I love hearing your stories. I love your little house (i also love that book…) and I hope someday I can come occupy the guest room for a visit. 🙂 Can’t wait to see the big reveal!


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