My mom and dad’s houses on Lee Street in Valley View, Texas……..
When Mom and Dad were older but still not adults their parents both bought houses on south Lee Street, across the street from each other in fact. Yes, like something in a Norman Rockwell painting or a Hollywood movie’s depiction of some “All American” small town Mom and Dad lived across the street from each other. What were these houses like? I will tell you about them.
Dad’s home was a one story wood frame house with no brick. It had two bedrooms at the front of the house, a living room by the front door, a dining room, a combination den and bedroom, a kitchen, and a screened in back porch and clothes washing area And one very small bathroom that had a tub and but no shower. There were trees in the front and back that we played under many days and there was a shed that served as a garage too.
For heat there was no furnace but there were several gas space heaters around which did work well. There was no central air conditioning either but some wall units were there – although not when Dad was younger. Speaking of no A/C, in the summer the family would sleep in the screened in porch, Dad said he would out a wet towel on top of him to stay cool. Such porches sometimes were called “sleeping porches” back then since many did sleep in them in the hot summer months. The house they lived in before, torn down to build I-35, had no indoor toilet and had an outhouse instead. Thus, the house was nothing fancy to say the least but it was functional and they had a roof over their heads, plus “indoor plumbing” too. Imagine not having A/C, heat, and an indoor “john”. With modern new houses having five bedrooms, three baths, and being over 2500 square feet on average few of us now can even imagine living in such a house.
Mom’s house was not fancy either but by comparison was luxurious. It had four bedrooms, two full baths, a kitchen and “breakfast nook” – a depressed booth in the kitchen where the family could dine, a dining room, a living room, a laundry room, a detached garage, plus a separate wash house and shed behind it. And trees of course out front and in the back. As with Dad’s house there were gas heaters and wall unit A/Cs too.
As kids we played all over both of these homes. We swung from the trees, chased lightning bugs in the warm summer twilight, pulled chirping cicadas – we call them locusts in our local dialect – from the branches of the trees, and did special things like hiding under the table in the breakfast nook at Mom’s, building spaceships out of junk from the wash house there, climbing the big tree in Dad’s home’s back yard, and scampering endlessly on its front porch while making a lot of noise as all kids do. We used our imaginations and what was at hand to make our childhood fantasy universes come alive on fun and happy days with our cousins, parents, and grandparents that we did not want to end. Thus these houses may have been Mom and Dad’s homes once but they were our homes too in many ways when we were young.
In the present era both of these houses are still on Lee Street, new owners and time’s passage have changed how they look in some ways but in my mind I still remember how they were and who and what was once there. The echoes of many lives led there still resound in my head.
With families now scattered across the face of the continent and not simply across the street from each other and living in homes that would have only been only for the rich not so many decades ago, old houses like these are relics of another age – some are in historical preservation districts in cities in fact.
Decades ago when there were no video games, Facebook, or Chuckie-Cheeses people were more focused on being home with each other and were not glued to some screen or wondering around a mall. We knew how to have fun with only what we had which sometimes was not so much. But yet do you hear people of that era ever say they were bored or wished they had what we have now back then? I never have.
So one day soon turn off all of the TVs, put the tablets and smart phones down, and go outside and play around a big tree, look around your home & yard, and be glad for what you see as was done before the age of 24X7gadgetry. And build some memories that will outlast all of the trendy digital devices that endlessly come and go.