Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Montoursville 2018:
Our third house

OK, it's time to get this series polished off. I'm at peace with (and actually a bit comforted by) the idea that I could not possibly fit all of my memories and stories about our house on Montoursville's Willow Street into one post. So I won't even try.

We lived at 912 Willow Street from late 1980 until the summer of 1983, so I was ages 10, 11 and 12 during that time — very robust years for childhood memories, much more so than when I was single digits in the hazy, trippy 1970s.

Quick recap
  • First family house in Montoursville was on Mulberry Street (early 1970s).
  • Second family house in Montoursville was on Spruce Street (mid 1970s until summer of 1978).
  • Then we moved away and lived in Clayton, New Jersey, from summer 1978 until late 1980.
  • Third family house in Montoursville was on Willow Street (late 1980 until summer 1983).
  • Then we moved to Florida.

The Willow Street house is in the northeast corner of town, where the elevation begins to rise. It's located at the triangular corner of Willow Street and Fairview Drive, as you can see from this map I used in an earlier post about C.E. McCall Middle School. The backyard, where the driveway is located, is very sloped, making for unpleasant shoveling times in the winter (to which Dad and his back surgery can definitely attest). When we moved in, there was a huge willow tree in the far corner of the backyard, but it was cut down during our time there. We also had a burn barrel for paper trash in the backyard, because it was a much different time then — long before there was much momentum for the notions of recycling or air quality.

Even with the slope, the backyard was a great place for running around with the hose or sprinkler. There were all sorts of nooks and crannies to play with Star Wars figures or Matchbox cars. I remember coming across a walking stick insect once in the bushes. The tree in the corner of the front yard was just starting to be strong enough for a young boy to climb; it's huge and middle-aged now. Best of all, I remember laying in the backyard during dark summer nights to gaze at sky and watch for shooting stars. We were spoiled by those night skies, so relatively unpolluted by man-made light.

To the side of the house, along Fairview Drive, there is a concrete-slab covered porch. We spent much time out there throughout the year — relaxing, conversing with friends and neighbors, bug-hunting or listening to John Williams soundtrack albums on the record player we would haul out there and plug in.

Here are some then-and-now photos of the Willow Street house's exterior...


Side porch


Some thoughts after looking at those photos:

  • I'm glad it wasn't until our next house, in flat Florida, that I began taking on lawnmowing duties.
  • That's not our station wagon in the early 1980s photo of the driveway.
  • I love the front-yard landscaping now.
  • I have no recollection of the huge tree that now dominates the backyard, not even as a sapling (though my memory might be faulty on that count). The tree is also located almost exactly where we used to lay on the ground for stargazing.
  • Fences kind of suck, from an aesthetic standpoint, though I do understand you need them if you have a dog (or small children), so close to the road.

* * *

The first floor of the Willow Street house, when we lived there, contained a formal living room as you came in the front door, followed by a small dining room. From the dining room, there were three bedrooms (sharing just one bathroom) to the right and the kitchen to the left. (I wrote about the kitchen during a "Snapshot & Memories" post in January, so I won't touch on it much today.)

The finished basement was where we spent much of our time. There was a TV room, a rec area that served as both a bar and an area for playing board games or cards, a laundry room, and a large play area just inside the garage door where Adriane and I played with blocks or other toys and then cleared them all away during the holidays so that the live Christmas tree could go up. The basement was fairly dark and it could get damp, too. Probably the biggest Traumatic House Event during our time there involved a damaged drainpipe at the bottom of the sloped driveway; it forced water into much of the basement.

The coolest part of the house was the fully finished attic. The staircase was located off the dining room. The main part of the attic was a long hallway, wide enough to allow storage (books, boxes, etc.) on both sides and still have plenty of room to navigate. Flanking the hallway, on both sides, were storage passages that went the length of the attic. Adriane and I called them the cubby holes, and we played in them all the time. Both cubby holes had terminus points in the small guest bedroom located at the far end of the attic. (That's me in the attic bedroom in the photograph at the top of this post.) The guest bedroom was also a great place to play with friends or to seek out some solitude for reading. The Willow Street attic was great.

In retrospect, the worst part about the house is that it had just one full bathroom on the first floor and a toilet closet in the basement. For a four-bedroom house, it was definitely lacking in that respect. And the kitchen was fairly small. I wonder if it's been retrofitted over the decades. (Hmmm, it appears the answer is no.)

* * *

Ephemera & memories & being a kid

As I said, I won't even attempt to share all of my memories of my time at this house. To keep things simpler, and far more appropriate for the nature of this blog, I'll limit it to some memories related to books and ephemera. Many of this is also tied in with sports, which I was very enthusiastic about at the time. Here we go...

  • I remember finishing an English research paper about lions, complete with every fact I found on a separate index card (for the mandatory footnotes), while watching the Philadelphia 76ers win the NBA championship over the Los Angeles Lakers.
  • I had a small metal box in which I put clippings and other ephemera related to the Philadelphia Phillies. I had boxscores and other tidbits that were cut from the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. I think I also made my own Phillies baseball cards, as a project.
  • My favorite magazines were the Street and Smith's baseball yearbooks that were issued late each winter. I absolutely poured over the articles, team-by-team previews, rosters, statistics and schedules. I was also enamored of the Topps baseball sticker albums during this time.
  • When I played Major League Baseball on the Intellivision that was set up in the basement, I would sometimes write out actual lineups for the game, filled with my favorite contemporary players, and then keep the boxscore and subsequently track my players' statistics over several games. (It was good math practice!)
  • I kept notes and statistics about the first season of the United States Football League. I loved that league!
  • Dad would often go get The Philadelphia Inquirer and a box of doughnuts on Sunday mornings. I definitely read the comics, and probably Sports. I'm not sure what else I was reading in the newspaper at that point.
  • Pivoting to something other than sports, I discovered the world of Dungeons & Dragons during this time (which should not be a surprise to regular readers of this blog), though I didn't really play in any groups or know anyone who did. I had the 1981 Basic Set and the other things that came with it in the box. I probably had an issue or two of Dragon magazine, and I was an avid reader of the Endless Quest series. Mostly, I liked to create maps and histories for fantasy worlds. I remember having a small, light-blue-covered notebook filled with maps and ideas, and what fun it would be to still have that to look through. I'm sure I'm the one who decided to get rid of it at some later point, but I can't fathom why. Dad would make photocopies of D&D character sheets for me, but I'm not sure what I used those for, since I didn't play the game. I just remember how cool and special it felt to have Dad bring home photocopies from work.
  • On my bedroom bookshelf, I had a couple dozen of those National Geographic hardcover "Young Explorers" books, courtesy of a gift subscription from Beembom (my grandmother, Helen Chandler Adams Ingham). I also remember reading a lot of Garfield, Family Circus and The Three Investigators books during this time. Plus, of course, the discovery of Ruth Manning-Sanders at Konkle Memorial Library.
  • We had The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics, a huge hardcover volume, on the bookshelf in the formal living room. I would often pull it from the shelf and browse for hours. The book is on a bookshelf in my bedroom today.
  • My record albums were an odd and definitely unhip mixture for someone my age. I had the aforementioned John Williams movie scores (Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark); Hooked on Classics; Star Trek tales on vinyl; Mickey Mouse Disco; a half-remembered record that had covers (not originals) of popular movie songs such as "Makin' It" from Meatballs; and another collection featuring covers of classic movie themes such as The Pink Panther and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Those are the ones I can remember (and admit to), anyway. I was not yet into buying pop music on any medium. (And it's crazy to think how much I grew, learned and changed from this kid in early 1983 to the college graduate who bought August and Everything After on cassette in the autumn of 1993.)
  • Mom's college art books were in that bedroom in the attic, along with some of her other forgotten artistic endeavors. I wonder, in retrospect, if she just didn't care for them at that point. Or maybe they reminded her of things that could have been. She definitely wanted to keep them, but never seemed very interested in revisiting them. The bulk of her reading then consisted of Hans Holzer, Susy Smith, Stephen King, etc. This was still a few years, I believe, before she got back to adding historical fiction into her regular reading rotation.
  • And I had a Christopher Reeve/Superman poster on my bedroom wall. Here's proof!

* * *
Wrapping up, I envision three more Montoursville 2018 posts, all of which should come before Thanksgiving and none of which should require the time and effort of this one. We can see the finish line!

1 comment:

  1. I liked looking at the Zillow listing for the house... but I especially liked photo 4/5, which had...

    a cat.

    You didn't mention what pets you had at each house!