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The Houses of my Life!

173 is a simple house.  As a matter-of-fact, if you ask 10 five year olds to draw a house...9 of them will draw mine! Of course the 10th one will be a prodigy and will draw some Frank Lloyd Wright Craftsman bungalow with mission-style touches throughout.  Yep, mine is a simple house.  But I love it!  I drive a lot for my job, so I often have 2 to 4 hours to just think about stuff.  Today I thought about the houses in my life, and how they probably lead me to 173.

I have no idea how many places I've lived in my lifetime.  I know there were at least 4 or 5 apartments when I was too young to remember, and several apartments in the '80s when I was just learning how to scratch out a living.  But there has been three houses that were truly important to me.  The first one is my parent's house.  This is the house I really grew up in, from the age of 9 (ish) through high school.  And this is probably the most important house in my life, from reasons esoteric to practical!  When my parents bought their house it was in pretty rough shape.  Here's a picture to give you an idea:


That's the back of the house.  I don't know what year it was, but my Dad and I (okay, mostly Dad) spent the better part of a summer (and precious baseball time) to take a wire brush to every single shake on the house.  Thaaaat's right...wire brush, scrub scrub scrub, next shake.  One infernal shake at a time.  I believe the picture  shows where Dad pulled off shakes to replace rotted or broken shakes on other places on the house.  

And I guess that's the point here...I spent some time when I was a kid helping dad work on the house.  I won't pretend to be able to put into words what those years mean to me.  Not only did I learn how to do things, but I learned how to work.  Not so much at the time though...I was kind of a lazy kid, just wanted to play "guns" or baseball or whatever else was going on in the neighborhood.  But I did do some things, I learned how to fix cedar shakes, some electrical work, plumbing, sheetrocking, and who know what else.  More importantly I learned to appreciate what I had, and that you couldn't wait for just weekends and vacations to get work done on the house.  My only wish is - I wish I didn't complain as much and paid closer attention to what was going on!  Youth is wasted on the wrong people.  By-the-way, here's Mom and Dad's house some 40 years later:


Then there was Gramma and Grampa's house.  I spent a lot of time in this house.  I was fortunate to have two uncles who were just about my age, so the house was a second home to me.  I never did any work there, with the exception of mowing the yard a time or two (I probably griped about that too), but this little house holds a lot of memories:


I think the house is a simple "American Farmhouse" style.  I love the simplicity and the lines.  It has character, life, it has stories to tell!

These are the two houses that really influenced my life.  Is it any wonder I fell in love with 173?


It's old, it's simple, and it reminds me every day of my childhood.  There's not a wall, door or floor that's plumb, square or level, but that's what we call "character" these days!  I've learned to live with its crookedness, straighten up what I can, and appreciate what I can't.  I love the story of 173. The father of the guy across the street built almost every house on my block, including mine.  I know the family that owned this house since it was built, they lived in it for 60 plus years!  

It has funny things about it.  When we first bought the house we found some rolled up wired with clamps on them attached to a transformer in the basement.  I wondered what kind of weird stuff went on down there!  Turns out, they used to run the wires out the basement window and attach them to the old metal trash cans.  When the raccoons got into the trash - ZAP!  A little shock chased them away!!  I love that story.  There're other stories like that, maybe I'll save them for another post, but isn't great to know the stories of your house?

So these are the houses of my life.  Two great houses that lead me to 173.  I'm a lucky guy!.

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