Features

I've never moved

... I've haven't lived anywhere else...

by Kay McCarte

Well, that is my parents bought this house when I was about six months old and I
have never moved in over eighty years.  It has the usual kitchen, dining room,
living room, unheated sunroom,  upstairs were three bedrooms with one bathroom, an
unfinished attic, only reached by a trap door in one of the closets, and a basement
with a large cement furnace heated by the coal which was delivered by a shoot
through a basement window into the coal bin. Through the years the cement furnance
has been replaced by a much more compact oil furnace and the front end has been
renovated into a family room where my computer and printer are located.

The kitchen had a pantry and a back hall which led to the back door and had an ice
chest. Remember them? My mother had a card with numbers on all four sides to tell
the iceman how much ice was needed when he came around with his horse-drawn cart
filled with blocks of ice to be chiseled to the right size to put into the ice
chest.

The stove had four gas jets with two oil burning heating units which had flat
covers on top. There were holes in the covers and a gadget to lift them. I remember
near one Christmas my Aunt Mary lifted one of the covers and talked to Santa Claus.
In the winter there was always something heating on them, even flat irons, one
which would be heating while the other was used to iron. I don't know if an oil
burner was lit during the summer to heat the irons because by the time I was big
enough to iron we had graduated to an electric iron.

A piano window (about four feet by two feet) adorned the dining room along with an
angled china closet which backed into the fireplace in the living room. The
fireplace was used for heating when I was small until we had the room re-
wallpapered. There would be no soot on Mother's new wallpaper and repainted
ceiling.

There were portierres in the doorway between the front hall and living room and
french doors between the unheated sunroom and living room to keep the heat where it
belonged. It was a problem because at first the Christmas tree was put up in the
sunroom and no one wanted to get cold decorating it. Eventually one of the chairs
was put in  the sunroom and the Christmas tree was put up in the living room.

After my Mother died my Father transferred the house to my sisters and me. He said
it was the worst thing he ever did.  As my Father was crippled with rheumatoid
arthritis we decided we needed a new addition to the back of the house. Our
contractor suggested we did not need a new room as there was room downstairs to
accommodate a bed.

We agreed and now have large bathroom with a shower, the washer and dryer upstairs
from the basement, coat and clothes closets in the hallway leading to a nice deck
at the back of the house. Even though he wouldn't admit it he had a wonderful time
overseeing work being done.  Once, he admitted to my sister that it was nice to
have a bathroom downstairs.

My Father had died when the upstairs bathroom developed an undetected leak and we
came downstairs to find the kitchen ceiling in the sink which, of course led to an
updated renovation of the bathroom. Thank goodness we had the downstairs one
already.

Now we decided the kitchen need a renovation. After a few sessions with the
contractor work was started. New cabinets and appliances were ordered. Everything
was removed and the walls came tumbling down. Then they realized the bearing wall
was above the pantry and back hall and would have to be removed and replaced at the
outside wall. Betty came home from work to this news, looked at the pile of rubble
in the backyard, and said she didn't suppose it could be put back. Do what had to
be done.

Next the cabinets were put in. The sink, on the back wall, had a window with
cabinets on either side. Oh, oh! The end of the window would look into the
extension. It had been dark when they were measuring and didn't realize it. That
wouldn't do, so we had to have a new window ordered. The cabinet was now not wide
enough but we have nice rounded shelves to take up the space.
           
Over the years the heating system has been replaced, the sunroom has been insulated
and the french doors removed, baseboard heating replaced radiators, the front porch
has been enclosed with windows and screens, new windows that are easy to clean and
don't need storm windows have been installed. There have been many changes over the
years but, basically the house remains the same.

Our neighborhood, too, remains basically the same. Most of the homes have been
added to and/or renovated and families have come and gone. Over the years I have
seen many children grow up, families move out to be replaced by other families with
small children. They have block parties, cookie swaps, and get-togethers. Margie
and I have been here the longest and, I understand, are known as "the ladies."   

It's been a wonderful life here in "The Best Neighboorhood in Melrose."



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