Sunday, January 22, 2012

Places I Have Lived, Places I Have Loved

I have only lived in two states: Louisiana and California. (And I have been in 28 others for a total of 30 states, though for many I was just passing through on my way somewhere else. But that's an entry for another day!)

It all started in New Orleans, Louisiana...
  • Chestnut Street (above), 1962
    • My very first home, it was my grandparents' house. Dad was still in California when I was born so this is where I started out. (My mom grew up here too.) I loved this house. 
    • We spent a lot of time visiting here over my childhood years. My brother Everest and I spent hours playing all over the house and yard. There were heavy Venetian blinds; window air conditioner units in some of the rooms (and dragging heat & humidity in the rooms without); wardrobes, chifforobes, and cedar chests; closets; vanity tables; high ceilings; cabinets full of knickknacks; chest of drawers full of things like empty spice or medicine bottles and old TV Guides (Ev and I especially loved this last item; my grandparents' lived through the Depression and saved a lot of things that might be useful later); an old record payer and records; an old freezer used as storage for scotch tape, Wrigley's gum, and a multitude of other things fun for a child to explore; a pantry full of crates of bottled sodas; 2 fig trees great for climbing; a swingset; a storage unit out back that was later turned into a small apartment; a screened in front porch; and so much more.
    • The house was sold in 1993 after my grandfather died. The new owners remodeled extensively so the house looks very different today, inside and out.
  • Several apartments and houses, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1962-1967
    • There are 5 listed in my baby book but I have no real memories of them, only fragments.
  • Dixon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
    • I remember this house more clearly. I think we moved there when I was about 4. It was very close to the Sunbeam Bread factory so it always smelled like fresh-baked bread. I also remember our next door neighbor, Mrs. Pinkus, an elderly woman who would come over and spend time with us. I don't remember what she looked like but she was very kind. We lived here during Hurricane Betsy but we were at my grandparents' house for the duration of the storm (the Chestnut house lost a few chimneys that night; there are photos of the aftermath somewhere).
  •  Pirate Drive, Chalmette, Louisiana (above), 1967-1974
    • Until my last house, this is the place I lived longest, seven years, from 5 to 12 years. It was not a very large house but I had my own room and, eventually, a double bed!
    • You can just see the smoke pouring out of the top of the house. This was the Kaiser Aluminum plant a short distance away. We called it the smokestack and used it to tell which way the wind was blowing. No doubt the filth emitted has shortened the lives of many Chalmette citizens. 
    • The house was white brick with pink (!) mortar. There were many lizards that changed color (I think they were anoles; thanks Wikipedia!), and lots of frogs and toads. This tiny green frog used to hang out on the living room window. We named him Greenie. One night there were two frogs and it looked like they kissed. We called the other frog Greenie's girlfriend. After Hurricane Camille we never saw any of these frogs again.
    • During heavy rains the street would flood (you can see the storm drain just in front of the mailbox) and the water level would reach almost up to the front door. The street looks pretty wide in the photo but if a car parked on each side there was just enough room for a third car to pass by.
    • We briefly moved to a duplex elsewhere in Chalmette and put this house up for sale. My parents changed their minds and since the house hadn't sold yet we moved back after three weeks.
    • This house no longer exists, having been torn down in 2006 due to major damage from Hurricane Katrina.
  • Ralston Avenue, Burlingame, California, 1974-1976
    • This was a small house we rented. It was a half block from Hillsborough, a rich enclave of Burlingame. Ev and I spent many hours exploring the creek as it ran up through Hillsborough. The house had a small basement that was alternately creepy and fascinating. It also had an attic that contained a bed and desk. We would have played up there but my mom had a fear of climbing the ladder so she wouldn't let us up there either.
    • There was a great tree out back that had some great branches for climbing and sitting.
    • Our next door neighbors had a pool so we got to hear a LOT of "Marco!" and "Polo!" every summer.
    • California, compared to tropical Louisiana, was COLD by comparison. Interestingly, it got MUCH colder in Louisiana in the winter than it does in the Bay Area. Both places had an equal chance at snow, that is to say we rarely had any snow to speak of, but we did get snow while we lived in Burlingame.
  • Robinson Road, Sonoma, California, (above) 1976-1979
    • Our first 4-bedroom house! Here is where my high school years began. I also had a pet rabbit named Sylvester. It was about 2 miles to the high school. I either rode my bike or my dad gave me a ride. Then I walked or biked home.
    • My room was painted a light green and I had a desk that looked out onto the backyard. This is when I REALLY began to be a voracious reader.
    • I wouldn't say I was happy here overall but I have some good memories of high school where I was active on the school paper and in drama. For example, I played a little blind girl in "The Miracle Worker" but not THE little blind girl! Said I to Annie Sullivan, "We hear you're goin' where the sun is FIERCE."
  • West Beach Parkway, Mandeville, Louisiana, 1979
    • We moved back to Louisiana because Dad had a job opportunity. This was a cute little house we rented before my parents bought the next house on the list. It was small (only 2 bedrooms) and old-fashioned (the tub had claw feet and there was a small bedroom off the kitchen where perhaps a live-in servant was supposed to sleep?). It was about half a block from Lake Pontchartrain though and within easy walking distance of the high school. Until the high school moved across town to a brand new facility. Then we walked to the old high school, now the junior high, to catch the bus to the new high school. Good times. Not.

  •   Carroll Street, Mandeville, Louisiana, (above) 1979-1980
    • We moved here in December 1979 so I didn't actually live here very long since I left for California in June 1980. I had a nice corner room. Once we moved here we needed a ride from one of my parents to the old high school to catch the bus to the new high school. Still not good times (high school seniors just didn't ride the bus; I was the only one apparently). It WAS cool to be in a brand new school though. 
Next up, the college years!


  1. I had no idea you lived in Burlingame when I lived in Hillsborough (which is a different town than Burlingame, btw, despite Burlingame's attempts to "own" it, back in the day. On the other hand, Burlingame is a lot more upscale than it was back then; on the other hand, I usually tell people I grew up in San Mateo, because I'm so not Hillsborough, myself. I'm many handed, apparently.). Also, thanks for the brilliant idea to get Tina Fey's book out of the library...haven't gotten it yet, but I'm on the list. Not that I mind owning it, but I'm much more comfortable with paperbacks, not hardbacks, and will it ever come out in paperback, now that ebooks exist??? That's the question of the decade....have ebooks replaced paperbacks?

  2. My iPad doesn't always allow me to edit or add, so that last comment is from J. In Santa Cruz!