It was 1968, the summer of love…Forty one years ago when we first moved out of that tiny house on West 114th in Cleveland into that big old house on Clifton Boulevard in nearby Lakewood, none of us had any idea what life would hold. The move itself was initiated for a number of reasons. The last being a story about a kid being attacked on the railroad tracks just up the street from our house. I think this was the last straw for Mom. There had been earlier warning bells for her, married to a Police Officer she heard just about all the stories that went on in the neighborhood. Scary things were becoming common in the neighborhood and she just wouldn’t tolerate these things near her kids.
We moved pretty quickly once Mom had made her mind up and found the house. It was a huge old white elephant way out in Lakewood on Clifton Boulvardthat had numerous problems. The roof on the front porch was caving in, the steam heat was controlled by a ashmatic old boiler in the basement that was just one step away from retirement. The driveway was shared with the neighbors, and the entire interior of the house hadn’t been remodeled since it was built in 1915. Time stood still. And very dusty. There were two sisters living in it…the Murphy girls.
One being about 60 and the other about 70 or so, was a tiny handicapped old lady who scooted herself up and down the steps on her behind. She was also a retired Nun who had stayed in China during the Revolution when her Order of nuns had pulled out, only to be threatened by the local Warlord that if she didn’t deliver his wife of a son she would die. She delivered a boy and was sent packing with a ton of presents, carpets and china most of which she left in that big old house for my mother when she and her sister moved out. Well those Murphy girls fell for my Mother and she for them. The house had been built by their father for his large family and they were so very happy to see a large group come in again( there were 9 kids in our crowd). Even though they had a better offer on the house they chose to give it to my Mother, because they loved that old Barn just as we came to.
My mother fell in love with it immediately. She could see as she said “Good Bones”. The field stone fireplace the great woodwork, the back way upstairs, the sliding glass doors between the living and dining room. My Father on the other hand saw years of enslavement to the terminally ill boiler, the wildlife infested attic, the falling down garage and the swayback roof on the porch, let alone the house thad various holes throughout in different ceilings in different rooms up and down. My father was against the move, but my Mother didn’t much care. She and her children were moving he could do as he liked. She simply bought the house and moved. My Father and brother didn’t want to move . He and Will were determined, the were putting their foot down. Not on any carpet however…for when My Uncle Bill moved us EVERYTHING was removed from the old place.. They even packed and moved a box of dirt. Dad and Will were left to stew in their own juices. Not a stick of furniture, not a towel, nor a trace of food. No arguments from my Mom just action. They could follow when they wanted. It took about two weeks.
It seemed so palatial after that tiny tiny house on west 114th. Withfour bedrooms on the second floor and two bedrooms and a dressing room on the third, a full basement with four separate rooms and a half bath we could spread out. And we did for the next forty one years through Christmases, Easters, Birthdays, Christening Parties, Wakes and Weddings this was home. Now it’s sold again and once more two sisters (our Marg and T ) are handing the keys to yet another young family…what a surprise, three little girls in this crowd. I am so happy. The house won’t be lonely anymore. It was built with love to hold the laughter and tears, yelling and homework sessions to come, it was never built to be alone.