Random Thoughts

Memories of Melrose

... more than a house, it was a home

by Ann Robbins Talbot

Today I parked my car in front of the home where I grew up, 5 Crest Avenue. My
mind’s eye looked inside the front door to the square hall where the only telephone
sat in a niche. No private calls in my day. Passing the hallway, straight through,
was the kitchen built in 1928 but updated little by little as appliances wore out.
Keep on going and the back door entered onto the porch, a good sized deck
overlooking the grassed-in back yard with several flower beds and a tomato patch,
and further on, the comings and goings of Wyoming Avenue.

Off the kitchen was the dining room, used for all meals ordinary or festive. The
table seated seven comfortably, but held more on holidays. The living room bordered
the dining room with a corner fireplace and an oriental rug with center medallion
where we could play marbles. Out the door and you were back in the front hall where
the telephone sat. My favorite room was the sunroom, divided from the side of the
living room by French doors. Here rested our record player for 78’s, later for 33’s
and with the help of little discs, 45’s. If the music was annoying to the rest of
the family, the French doors contained it.

Upstairs were four bedrooms, one constructed from the original nursery, and one
bathroom. Seven people managed perfectly well with this arrangement – perhaps not
“perfectly”. A full cellar completed the inside with a coal bin converted into a
utility bathroom, set tubs and washing machine and furnace where winter hats and
mittens were hung to dry. All sorts of treasures could be found here including a
fancy mandolin that no one played. It was a wonderful place for science experiments
about mold and the effects of darkness. In one corner was a root cellar, built into
the side of Crest Avenue’s hill, usually containing Maine potatoes.

So many family times took place within these walls. Christmas was always great with
someone always receiving new skates and wool socks that Mom would knit. We traveled
to a little pond in the Fells for a family-skate while the turkey roasted. There was
the time that Robert came home on leave from the Navy when Nancy was born. We hired
a photographer to take a photo for posterity. Too late we discovered he had no film
in the camera and we never seemed to be together again.

Our father’s visiting hours were held in the house as was the custom in the fifties,
with baskets of flowers banked around the casket in the sunroom. Cerratani’s
delivered the groceries because it was Thursday, the family shopping night. I
dressed for my wedding here and John walked me down the aisle.

And as I sat in my car today, it struck me that I am the only one with these
memories. Nancy left us at 19, being killed by a drunk driver while at college.
Robert is gone from lung cancer, Marion from Altzeimers, and recently John from
stomach cancer. I am now the keeper of the memories and I treasure every one.

August 3, 2012

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