Humble homestead


This is the house in Jacksonville, Florida, where I grew up. My parents, my sister and I lived here from 1953 to 1962 when I graduated from high school.

The photo was taken yesterday by my daughter who is spending a few days on Jacksonville Beach with her husband for her birthday.

My parents purchased this little place (and it is very little) brand new. We were the first occupants, and now, incredibly, it’s 60 years old.

It was far prettier then. My father had two hobbies: gardening and boozing, and he did both with enthusiasm. The yard was well-tended with flowers and a mimosa tree. The house was painted aquamarine.

The roof was white gravel poured over hot asphalt.

The flowers are all gone now. No more mimosa tree. I imagine the tenants are renters, so they don’t give a flip. My daughter said the area is dotted with bail-bond businesses and a restaurant named Knuckle Sandwiches.

It was a new postwar subdivision when we arrived, young homeowners with starter families, not renters who might need a bail bondsman.

Or eat a Knuckle Sandwich.

My bedroom was tiny. That’s the window just to the left of the front door. There was a twin bed, a chest of drawers and a desk. Nothing more would fit in there.

My parents’ bedroom was at the left corner. My older sister’s gloomy lair was at the rear left. That’s the little living room to the right of the entrance, and there’s a one-vehicle carport where you see the butt of the auto.

Not too many years ago I had a dream that ran for two nights. Yes, a double feature. I was in that house alone during a torrential rain. Gradually, the water rose to the windows and above, but none entered the house.

The night passed (the dream night, not the real ones), and I stepped out to the back yard in the morning. The water had all gone, leaving mud and gasping fish on the grass. There was no one around but me.

I don’t miss the place, but you’ve probably figured that out already.

If you have children, you should stay sober. And pretend you care.

13 thoughts on “Humble homestead

  1. On dreams: I had a dream last night that featured an old gangster that I butted heads with when I was doing union work. He wanted to steal and I did not want him to. Well, last night he was ramming into my car with his car in my dream. Funny what stays with you.


    1. Norm: Yes, it is funny what stays with you, especially for 60 years.

      As for union gangsters wanting to steal, why am I not surprised? I applaud your better instincts.


  2. I’ve had occasions recently to be in Austin where my mother’s side of my family have lived for generations. My grandmother lived at the corner of Guadalupe (the Drag) and West 32nd, which, in my childhood, was a fairly quiet scene. It’s a big house with a basement and had a detached garage with maid’s quarters attached toward the back of the lot. I cruised in that direction on my last trip to Austin and was shocked to see the wood trim had been painted gray and a small two-storey apartment complex built where the old garage building had been. Looked like hell. I do not approve.


    1. Carole: You live fairly close to that house, relatively speaking. I last saw our Jacksonville house 15 years ago as I was passing through that great city. It looks more tended now than it did then.

      I also took a photo then, but I threw it away.


  3. When my parents moved to Florida in 1953, my father was getting close to retirement age. There are some advantages to having older parents. Our former beach property has been razed for high-rises, what the locals call condomania. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes.


  4. The dream is a classic. You, the young Noah, escape God’s wrath in a flood that cleanses the earth of all that vexes you — because what vexes you also vexes God. You get to start all over in a brave new world. How do you like what it has become?

    I have my therapy pad and pen at the ready.


  5. Sorry to completely blow by the gist of this entry, but….

    Knuckle Sandwiches! What a great restaurant name!! (wait a minute, do people outside the southern U.S. know about knuckle sandwiches?).


    1. Becky: My daughter was much amused by the restaurant name. Me too. As for people outside the South not knowing the term, that did not occur to me till just this minute. You may be right. Their loss, and I ain’t gonna explain it to them. They shoulda been born better.


      1. There are two rules when fighting: #1, don’t kill em and #2 is don’t hurt your hand, knuckle sandwiches break #2.


    1. Hi, Debi: Yes, it is sound advice. Even better than pretending to care, however, is actually caring. My mother cared. My father didn’t. From the day I left home at age 17 till he died when I was 46, I never got a phone call or a letter from him. There were just one, perhaps two exceptions, and those happened due to some practical details he could not dodge.


Comments are closed.