Sunday, September 14, 2008
... Azalea Bushes and Whisky Sours
One of the many things I love about the house I live in is the history it holds. Built in 1928, there have been numerous owners & I often wonder who they were and what type of lives they led. A number of months ago I made a trek to the courthouse to do a deed search on the house. I got back a few decades but found myself stuck, unable to determine who sold the house to Mr. and Mrs. Demma pre-1970's.
I was given a brief highlight of a few former owners when I purchased the home. For example, I heard that the original owner was the sheriff of Norfolk whose wife planted numerous azalea bushes around the home -- hence the name of the street (Azalea Ct.). But I was eager to know more.
Well yesterday, while hosting a yard sale, two gentlemen approached me and asked if I was the owner of the home. "Can we see inside?" they followed up. While I wasn't surprised at the request -- I often have strangers sheepishly knocking on the door asking if I would mind giving them a brief tour. It seems to be a well admired house. -- I did hesitate briefly, thinking of the yard sale-prep havoc inside the home. The older of the two gentlemen explained his request: "We used to live here. In fact, my son (pointing to his companion), was born here." My face lite up "Well of course you can see it, come on in!".
It appears I'd found my seller! This gentlemen, who happened to be driving by on a trip down memory lane, owned the home in the 60's. He and his wife purchased it for $11,500 and had a $79 a month mortgage! (The median price of a house in my neighborhood in 2007 was $780,000. Ha!). They lived there for a number of years, had their son followed by a daughter, and finally moved to a larger home to raise their family.
Jeff and I showed him & his son through the house as he poured forth details on how it was layed out when he was there. We shared laughs at the nearby train and how it makes the house shake. We were amazed to hear that the house was originally pink! We toured the back yard where he remembered building the fence (Jeff and I were JUST trying to figure out which fence belonged to whom!).
Then the neighborhood stories began. This man remembered the names of all his neighbors and what they did. We heard stories of their gallivanting around together and the claim bake parties they threw. How the gentleman next door would just walk up and knock on window -- two whiskey sours in hand as an invite to come over and shoot the crap. We even heard a little story about how the original owner of the home was the sheriff of the city and how his wife had planted all these beautiful azalea bushes. "That's how the street got it's name you know." I did know, and it couldn't have made me more happy to find out it was a true story and not just folk lore.
The visit was brief. We invited him to bring his wife back to visit another day and he was pleased to hear that Jeff and I were getting married and soon to be starting our own family. 50 years had passed but here we were, mirroring his life in many ways. Not the least of which is dearly loving this quaint little house we've each called home.