Passage of time

The House of Horrors. Well, not really. There were good times … I think.

Saturday dawned in a lovely mood which inspired me to get off my lazy keister and do yard chores I’d been noticing and ignoring for weeks. While out there, I began to think about how long I’ve lived here at the Hacienda, 18 years. This is not how my vagabond life played out in the past. I rarely lived anywhere for long.

My previous record was in my youth when I lived in the house just below from ages 9 to 17 when I graduated from high school and headed off to Vanderbilt University where I lasted just a few short weeks before dropping out and enlisting in the Air Force.

The Jacksonville suburb of Arlington.

My parents were the first buyers of this house, into which we moved in 1953. The window on the right was the living room. The one in the middle was my bedroom, and the one on the left was my parents’. My sister’s bedroom was on the other side of the house.

This photo was shot about 10 years ago, I think, by my daughter who was passing through Jacksonville, Florida, which is where this is. What strikes me most about this photo is the front yard. My father worked at night and enjoyed gardening in the daytime. We had a lovely yard, and now there is nothing.

Those huge trees were not there in the 1950s. Neither was the sidewalk.

In 1953, this area was a brand-new subdivision of the postwar, growing middle class — Levittown in the Florida sunshine. Now it appears to be a working-class neighborhood. The owner (or renter?) probably drives a delivery truck, or he works at Auto Zone.

I lived there with my parents and sister almost a decade, and it was my longest home stay before constructing the Hacienda 40 years later. Taking third place in the longevity list would be the house at the top where I lived nine years with my second ex-wife before she tossed me unceremoniously onto the cold, dank pavement.

She lives there to this day, thanks to me. She’s done a lot with the place. When we bought it, the kitchen cabinets were the original knotty pine from 1955, which is when the house was constructed. I really liked that knotty pine, but she had it all torn out after I departed, and now it’s modern. I’ve seen photos. She also constructed an enclosed “sun room” out back. If I’m ever in Houston again, I’m gonna request a tour.

But I doubt I’ll ever be in Houston again.

As Thomas Wolfe said, well, you know …*


* Likely the first literary reference that’s ever appeared in The Unseen Moon. Tip of the sombrero to Steve Cotton, a maestro at it.


Update: Here’s a more recent photo that I grabbed off Google Street View.

And in 2020.

21 thoughts on “Passage of time

    1. Carole: She is a certified Master Gardener, a course offered by the county extension service that she took around 1990.

      As for the sun room getting stuffy, I rather doubt she would permit that, but who knows?

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  1. Ever thought about trading houses for a week? We did that once with my sister’s former neighbor who moved to Hawaii. We got to stay in a fabulous house in Princeville, on the Island of Kuai. Best vacation I’ve ever had.

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    1. Phil: There are websites dedicated to just that. Thought about doing it long ago but not recently. We have the advantage of our Downtown Casita, so we could steer people there and not have anyone stay where we actually live. Maybe one day.

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  2. A couple of years ago I drove by two houses that I lived in while growing up in Shreveport, LA. They both looked so much smaller than I remember and both neighborhoods are trashed now.

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    1. Thirsty: I imagine I too would find that house smaller than I remember. Funny how that happens.

      The subdivision was built on fields of sandy dirt. The developer put plugs of St. Augustine grass into the yards, and they eventually spread out and made lawns. First lawn I ever mowed. After buying the Houston house in 1986, I was out mowing the yard one day. A neighbor passed, and I mentioned to him that it was the first time I’d mowed a lawn since I was a kid. He said, “It hasn’t changed any, has it?”

      No, it hadn’t.

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  3. Drove by my childhood home, almost didn’t recognize it. The elm trees were very large 40 years later. The area used to be potato fields when my dad built it. It was good for going out at night and picking worms to sell to fishermen. The old Way Back Machine, it’s great.

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  4. At first glance, the leaning columns on the Houston house’s porch made the whole thing look askew, as if it were about to collapse. Then I realized what I was looking at, hehe.

    I’m dying to get to Mexico, but the authorities are making it harder and harder. Now with the testing and quarantine measures required of air travel, it’s just one more thing. Oddly, the rule doesn’t apply if you cross the border in a car. And while I’d like to drive, it seems like getting covid on the road could present a whole host of thorny problems. Can you even stay in a hotel if you’re sick? If not, then what? Flying back seems like a bad idea, never mind abandoning the car mid-trip.

    I think this is going to really put the screws to Mexico’s economy even worse. Apparently lots of people have canceled trips.

    And apparently, Old Joe — despite myriad campaign promises to the contrary — in fact has no idea of how to deal with this epidemic. So he’s now just carrying out Bad Orange Man’s plan. How creative!

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where recent temperatures have been in the single digits F, and tons of snow is on the way. Ugh!

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    1. Kim: Those angled columns are just a design touch from the 1950s, of course. Shades of Frank Lloyd Wright, or something like that.

      Dying to get to Mexico? Should have moved here years ago and put down roots. I did, and I’m very happy about it.

      Yes, we are reacting badly to the Kung Flu. My state is forcing businesses to close by 7 p.m. and all day Sunday. Will do squat. The only thing that will have an effect is to make it illegal to hug and kiss everyone you see. That is our problem. It’s cultural.

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      1. Curfews are the most ridiculous, scientifically unsupported nonsense. They just show that petty tyrants will, given an inch, take a mile or more. In Canada, they’ve gone full-tyrant. In Quebec, they closed the homeless shelters due to covid. Then they instituted a curfew and began fining homeless people for being out on the street during curfew. At least one froze to death. It’s insane.

        As for me having moved to Mexico, you may recall that I did just that in 2016. And then, stepfather died, mom got cancer, etc, and I was needed elsewhere. Then covid hit, and here we are.

        Cheers,

        K

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      2. P.S. It seems pretty clear at this point that whatever the authorities are doing to control the virus pretty much don’t work. Sure, there are a few success stories like New Zealand, but it’s an island, and not exactly a hub of international travel and business. So we are all losing our civil rights and livelihoods for measures that are slightly effective at best, and possibly counter-productive at worst.

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          1. They truly are still doing that? Here people are glaring at me as I walk along the sidewalk maskless, and some cross the street when they see me. It’s kind of hilarious actually.

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  5. Kim is right. Our inept leader (only elected because of his last name and nice hair) is punishing us travellers to appease all those sheeplike Canadians who stayed home in ze homeland. I’ve just about had it with Canada and are currently looking at real estate in Puerto Morelos. I’m getting a bit too old for cabin living on a remote island. We’ve done over 20 years of that, so we’ve paid our dues. It’s not the kind of place to spend your twilight years, and if we sell that place we can easily afford a nice house down here. It’s a bit crazy. We’ve been coming down here for 15 years and were dead set against buying. Why bother if you’re only coming down for a couple of months ? But I’ve seen the future, and it’s not pretty in Canada. We’ll be going back in a week (if they let us) and clear up a lot of things before we make the plunge. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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    1. Brent: Moving to Mexico was a smart move on my part 21 years ago and today’s world above the border makes it even smarter. You will not regret it. I promise. Well, you may regret sweating profusely on the beach after a spell, which is why most Mexicans live at a higher altitude and more comfortable weather.

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      1. I will not regret one drop of sweat, señor. There’s always a nice breeze on the beach and if you get too hot that’s what the ocean is for. We come from a cold country, so any bit of warmth is appreciated. Canadians complain about the cold in the winter and the heat in the summer. We’re a nation of complainers. We shall keep our apartment in Canada and trade the log cabin for a larger cement villa, hopefully with a pool. One more kick at the can for us. Enjoy your mountain retreat. 🙂

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