Tuesday, January 25, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History - Home

I grew up in a coal-mining city in northeast Pennsylvania called Hazleton.  We lived on Diamond Avenue…one of the main streets in the city and back in its heyday, Diamond Avenue was the place to live.  It was status.  I remember my dad telling me that this was one of the reasons he wanted a house on Diamond Avenue.  Looking for status.

It was a beautiful house…at some point in its life.  It actually was beautiful when I was younger, but my dad let it fall into severe disrepair and a gorgeous home built at the turn of the 20th century is an eye-sore.  Many of the houses on Diamond Avenue are now “fixer-uppers”, but my childhood home pretty much looks as though it needs to be bulldozed and rebuilt.  It does break my heart and makes me a bit bitter.  If the house had been cared for properly it would have been something worth passing on to future generations.  Something to be proud of.  That’s not the case though.

Sad, but this view of the house from the backyard is all I really have!
I actually don’t have a picture of my childhood home.  I’ve got pictures in my home, in the backyard, on the front  porch, but not of the home in its  entirety.  I need to put that on my to-do  list for my Summer 2011 visit back  home.  It won’t look as I  remember it  though as my father attempted to  repaint  it.  The house was  a beautiful  blue-grey, but the paint was peeling and the wood was showing through, so he got white paint and tried painting it.  It now looks like it’s been white-washed.  You can see the old color through the white paint.  To make matters worse the sides and back weren’t painted!  Yikes!

The inside of the house had high ceilings and the living room and dining room were open.  There were built-in curio cabinets in the living room with glass panes.  A wood-trim separated the living room from the dining room.  There were three bedrooms downstairs and one bathroom.  The fireplace in the dining room was fake, but we still believed that a magical Santa would be able to get down it!  The upstairs of the house was a duplicate of the downstairs and was meant for another family.  We had renters for a brief time when I was very young and then never again.  There was a small porch on the 2nd floor as well, but I was always told to not go out on it because it wasn’t stable and I’d probably fall through.  The attic had 3 rooms and was absolutely freezing in the winter and stifling hot in the summer.  Not the best place to store stuff!  There was an unfinished basement where my dad kept his tools and “workshop”.  We kids hated going into the basement because there were tons of spiders.  There was even an old “coal bin” in the basement, but I believe the house was heated by oil when I was growing up.  Apparently when coal stopped being king it was time to convert to oil!
The dreaded leopard-print wall-to-wall carpeting!

The floors of the house (at least on the first floor) were gorgeous hardwood.  Today, that would be highly desirable, but my mom wanted wall-to-wall carpeting.  My dad finally agreed to install it and my mom picked out the carpet she wanted.  When he went to purchase it, however, instead of getting the carpet my mother wanted, he got a “deal”…leopard print carpet.  My mother cried and cried.  That little story pretty much sums up my dad.

Despite the criticisms of how the house looks today, I have fond memories of growing up there.  I’m more critical of the fact that the house doesn’t look as good as it should, but it always will in my memory!