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8.25.2014

Does it make me a stalker if I show up at my childhood home, unannounced and uninvited?

Hello!

The title pretty much sums up today's topic.  You all know that I have a soft spot for some of our homes of days past.  I talked about the first home that my husband and I bought, and how it's currently in foreclosure, and I even gave you a tour of our second home (which seems to be well loved, even if they don't plant flowers in the window boxes).

Today we're going to an entirely different time and place.  This is the first home my parents bought, and one where I had many great childhood memories.  The kids and I, along with my parents, visited my grandmother over the summer, and the town where we lived is about an hour away from her, so we decided to do a drive-by and show it to the kids.

Here it is circa 1974.


And here it stands today.

I must have been feeling bold, because I got out of the car, and took a look up close, and the next thing I knew, I was on the front doorstep, ringing the doorbell.  I figured it was probably the last time I would visit this place, so what do I have to lose?

The homeowner (a woman) answered the door, and must have felt completely blindsided, seeing me at the door, and my mom standing on the sidewalk, tearfully telling her that this was my childhood home.  She was so sweet and empathetic, and even allowed us to come in and reminisce, even though she was in the middle of Saturday laundry and house cleaning.

Now I ask you, would you let a couple of crying women into your home, if they showed up claiming this was their house 35+ years ago?

It's funny how much bigger the neighborhood felt when I was a kid - everything feels so much smaller, going back and visiting as an adult.  But I have lots of wonderful memories of this place, and I'm going to take you on a bit of a flashback tour.

Already, you can see the exterior has changed quite a bit, both in the home itself and the landscaping.  I have to say, I think it's one of the nicest looking houses on the block.  It even has a snazzy front door.

This house always had great windows, that let in a lot of light, and that still holds true today.  The windows are beautiful, and the homeowner told us that the previous owner did a lot of upgrades and worked in millworking, so there were a lot of great woodworking details added, along with beautiful hardwood floors.

This is the living room, which you see to the left as you enter the front door.

We were there when rust carpet and the color palette of oranges, golds and green was in full force.  My mom was so excited about that carpet.

 This is the corner where the TV now sits.  Many a Christmas tree was decorated here.

This wall looked far different when I lived there as a child.

Paneling, of course!

This is another view of the front windows, as we look out toward the front yard.

And a shot from 1978 - at one of my birthday bashes, where family and friends would come to party.

Yes, this is a Polaroid of me and my dad, Christmas Eve, 1980.

The kitchen has been updated, and the layout has changed a bit in terms of appliances (we didn't have a dishwasher).  But overall, the footprint hasn't changed all that much.

We squeezed a little table in here too, and had a lot of fun when my mom baked a bunny cake for Easter.

There was a dining room adjacent to the kitchen, and an addition was added to the home by a previous owner as well.  So, that space has changed quite a bit from when we lived there.

I didn't snap a photo of the dining room when we were there, but I did find one online from when the house was listed a couple of years ago.  This is looking from the living room at the front of the house (it's an L-shaped space).

When we were there, just a wall -

A shot of my birthday party, taken from the kitchen.


The new owner has turned the addition into a bright office/studio space.


You can access the backyard from the kitchen, which now has small deck area:

I remember the blizzards we had in 1978 and 1979 - that's the top of the garage peeking out from the top of the snow pile.





Just stairs off the kitchen when we lived there, but still space to shuck some corn on the cob.

Or dump out your bubbles...

In the space behind the garage, there was a firepit area in one of the listing photos:

We had a garden back there at one point.  Looking back, it was huge for such a small lot.  I should take gardening lessons from my dad...

At another point, it was home to a swing set.

Back inside, you could access the basement off of the kitchen as well.  I can't find a lot of photos of it when we lived there (my mom must have them in another album).  They've dry walled the basement and added a wood paneled ceiling -




It was a paneling palooza when we lived there - this is the same corner as in the photo above.  Crazy.

I had to sneak back to the laundry area and see where the laundry chute was.  See the square there?  All boarded up.

Back upstairs, I took a peek at my old bedroom -

It was once a yellow, orange and green 70's bonanza.

Along with what was my brother's room.  God bless this homeowner for being so obliging and letting me take photos while she was in the middle of cleaning.  She was an absolute gem, and it made me happy knowing that the house was in good hands, if that makes sense.

The master bedroom.  Interesting that the bedrooms are carpeted now - they were hardwood when we lived there.

The bathroom set up in this house was completely wonky.  There was a powder room off the hallway, which connected to another bathroom that was off of the master bathroom.  The doorway in this photo is actually the first powder room.  These used to be blue and pink - and the laundry chute was off to the left.


So, there you have it.  My childhood home then and now.  I'm so glad I decided to knock on that door and take a chance that the homeowner would let us take a peek.  She was so gracious and kind, and we exchanged email addresses as well.  That's one great thing about older homes - the history can be so interesting.  I think if I lived in an older home, I would love to hear the stories from families before me.  Even if they showed up on my doorstep unannounced with a camera in hand.

How about you?  Have you house crashed a childhood home, or stalked it from afar?  Or, has a former homeowner showed up at your front door like I did?  Spill the details!

Linking up:
Thrifty Decor Chick - September Before and After

15 comments:

  1. This made me all teary. I'm so glad that you got to go back and see it. What precious memories!! I drive by the home we were in through middle school sometimes but I've never stopped :-)

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    1. My mom and I must have looked like a couple of crazies - I think the emotion we had upon visiting took us by surprise. So glad we did it though. Still so many memories locked up in that house, and new ones being made as well. :-)

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  2. aaaaw, how sweet! i did a drive by of mine a couple years back but wasn't ballsy enough to knock! i sorta wanted to!

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  3. Oh I love seeing the then and now. How fabulous that she invited you in.

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    1. She was so sweet and gracious. She made a comment that she needed to just "let go" about the house not looking the way she would like it to look, which I know had to be hard! I would be the same way. But really, the house looked fantastic for such a surprise visit. I can't say that mine would bode as well! :-)

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  4. What a great walk down memory lane. I have always wanted to go back and see the house my grandparents lived in before we left New York. I have so many memories from that house.

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    1. It was such a treat. I'm so thankful that she was so gracious for letting us walk through. I think she could tell by looking at us that we had an emotional connection to the house and were curious and harmless. I absolutely loved it, and encourage others to take a chance when strolling by an old house!

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  5. I'm not sure if I could go back to the house I grew up in from age 8 to 22 without bawling my eyes out. I am sure it would look different even now, at 33. My parents moved really abruptly, and I never got to say good-bye to the house, which made me very sad. Is that weird?

    Years back - before we had kids, so probably 7 years ago - my husband and I went to a wedding near the small town where I lived from ages 1-8. We drove past the little brick ranch we lived in at that time. And oh, it was so different in my memory! I had to really look to make sure it WAS that house! So funny. I did not knock, because I think it would have freaked my hubby out.

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    1. Never underestimate the power of emotion and attachment when it comes to homes that you've lived in! I can totally understand being sad about not saying "good-bye" - I've said good-bye to my previous homes. :-)

      And the house that we lived in when I was really little, looks *completely* different than I remembered it! I never would have recognized it. I imagined this huge park next door to us, and it was teeny tiny! Everything was miniature sized vs. what I remembered it!

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  6. I love that you did this! I totally would, if they seemed open to it. I loved looking at these pics!

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    1. Thanks Melissa! It was a wonderful trip down memory lane!

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  7. Jenny, this is so cool! I love that you had the nerve to ring the doorbell. How awesome that she let you take pictures too. I would welcome the past owner of our home in, but I think they might be upset at all we changed!

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    1. I'm so glad I just swallowed my pride and did it. I know I would have regretted it if I hadn't! I'm guessing the previous owners would have mixed emotions seeing your house - it's so gorgeous that they can't argue that point, but probably a little sad that it's so different from what they remember!

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  8. Good for you! Seeing old houses you've lived in is good for the soul. I have a great old house story- the house I grew up in when up for sale while I was pregnant with my second daughter. We made an appointment to see the house with a realtor friend of ours and my water broke- just a trickle, not a gush- the morning of our appointment- but I waited until after I saw the house to go to the hospital! My OB was not pleased. But I will never forget walking around this old house, built in 1812, full of character and charm and nooks and crannies, and all the mysteries it held for me as a little girl. It was an amazing experience. And its a great story to tell my daughter!

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    1. Cheryl, I LOVE this story! I could see myself waiting to go to the hospital too if I were in that situation. :-) It just makes the house and your daughter's birth even more special and sentimental! Thanks for sharing.

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