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.