Tomorrow is my mom's 78th birthday. Today she moved out of the place she called home for half that time. I was 18 months old when she moved in, and 25 years old when I moved out. Here are some photos and memories from my final walkthrough ten days ago. And here's a song to set the mood:
The house I grew up in is at the end of a dead-end street.
If you were to walk past the house from left to right you could continue down a ramp that leads to the motel I mentioned in this post. There was a metal barrier blocking the path but it's been gone for quite a while.
Across the street and beyond the shiny white fence is a parking lot. I guess it's for the shopping plaza a block ahead but it seems superfluous and too far from the stores. The pavement covers what used to be a dirt lot that hosted our Wiffle Ball games. The big tree is blocking the outfield fence and the brick wall of the house that we used to call the "warehouse" as a nod to Baltimore's Camden Yards. (Sorry for the screen, I took this pic from my mom's bedroom.)
The enclosed porch was always a fun place for chatting and having coffee. My aunt lived on the right side of the house until she died; one or both of us would often meet her on the porch for a visit. One time a hurricane-force storm blew in and I stayed inside watching the weather report while my mom and aunt watched the action outside from their rocking chairs.
The living room was still being lived in when I was there.
Let's head to the dining room, where my mom would host holiday dinners and serve her super thick sausage lasagna (and other things I suppose.. the lasagna was always my fave.)
Aaah too bright! That lantern at the top left is probably older than I am. It's one of those things that has been in the house for as long as I can remember.
On the far right of the dining room is a doorway that leads to the kitchen. Take a hard right and you'll see a door that leads to..
.. the basement. I was tasked with cleaning this up last weekend while my mom separated the contents (mostly Christmas decorations) into 'keep' and 'donate' piles.
Let's go back upstairs.
On the way to the kitchen there was a unique feature that I've never seen in any other house:
No, it's not the sign (which my mom bought, btw.) It's that little door that slides open on either side of the house.
This allowed my mom and aunt (and later my mom and nephew) to leave each other letters, envelopes, misdelivered mail, or anything else that would fit in the "hole."
Here's a look at the kitchen, with the back door at the far right. The backsplash and countertop had some awful sunflower-colored wallpaper when I was a kid. My mom painted over it.
The kitchen table is flanked by a padded bench. I always thought that closet on the right was in an odd place, but it came in handy for storing garden tools, shopping bags, and the bottles/cans we used to accumulate. One of my few fond memories of my father was when we'd cash in our collection at the supermarket. I'd go in with bags of empty soda bottles and I'd come out with packs of baseball cards (or stickers.)
When I was very little I used to bite the edge of the cushion by the window. My teeth marks are still there, but they're hard to see even in person.
My lifelong best friend stopped by Saturday night for one last visit (and a banana.)
The backyard was not always so overgrown. My mom isn't physically able to tend to it anymore. See the clothesline at the top left? I used to have a basketball hoop at that pole. Before that there was a garage at the back, where the table is in this picture. The garage was made of wood, which was damaged in Hurricane Gloria and further deteriorated until my brother pulled it down with a crane attached to his truck.
Let's go back inside, and take a tour of the upstairs.
There used to be some ratty shag carpets on each step nailed (poorly, I might add) by my father. I learned to tie my shoe laces at the bottom of these stairs. Also the wood paneling was brown but my mom painted it white, which is the next best thing to removing the panels altogether.
I took this photo at the intersection of my childhood bedroom (behind me) and my teenage/young adult bedroom (to my left). Since this is ostensibly a baseball card blog I made sure to include the '48 Bowman Augie Galan here.
This greyish-blue room was the latter. And it used to be red. Whenever someone would ask me why I painted my room red I would reply "because I couldn't paint it black." I really wanted a black room.
This is the guest room, where I would stay whenever I visited. It was originally my bedroom (and it wasn't always that color.)
When I was 5 or 6 someone gave me a balloon for my birthday and I made the mistake of bringing it into this room. The popcorn ceiling popped it, scaring the shit out of me. I probably cried. I hated loud noises as a kid. Fire drills were a source of serious anxiety. Perhaps that trauma can be traced back to this damn ceiling popping my birthday balloon.
Among the more positive memories in this room are the origins of my card collection. I had Gremlins and Wacky Packages stuck to my dresser - and Garbage Pail Kids stuck to my closet door.
Some remnants of GPK stickers are still there. My oldest nephew Michael was born the year I really started accumulating these. He was fascinated with these from the time he was 4 and often asked me to show him this door. We tried peeling off what we could, which is why there are so many fragments.
This room might have been the birthplace of my collection but its home was in the 3rd floor attic.
My mom used to let me (and my friends) draw on the walls. There are still some badly-drawn Bart Simpson sketches and some anti-NKOTB statements left uncovered when we ran out of blue paint.
This peg board at the top of the stairs was installed by my (former) brother-in-law, so that I could hang my Starting Lineup figures on hooks like a store display. I once had a gray card table up against that blue wall on the right where I would display some of my most valuable cards. Many of them were stolen right from under me when my parents left me alone in the house with a pair of punk-ass kids pretending to be my friends.
That incident shaped me as a collector. I thought about quitting forever and selling off whatever I had left. Instead I rebuilt my collection bigger and better than ever, and kept on going.
The original Collector HQ. I apologize again for the bright glare. There wasn't a bed there until after I moved out and other family members moved in from time to time. The crawl space door is at the far left. I still have some items from that find to discuss, which I will get to soon.
The window above the crawl space has seen better days. Somewhere on that roof is a 1988 Tony Gwynn Starting Lineup figure that my eight year-old self decided to a) paint the base with whiteout and b) toss it out the window. I have no idea why I would do such a thing, but I have always wondered if it's still stuck on the roof, or in the gutter. It couldn't have come down - someone would have found it.
That wraps up the tour. Thank you for joining me on this final trip through my old West Haven home.
I'm building a Christmas care package list, and if you're doing the same you should know that COMC is so far behind that orders placed today will not be guaranteed to arrive until 2021 unless you pay
$9.99 $11.49 for "rushed" delivery. Which makes me mad because I have a card in my inventory that was meant to be a gift for a generous blogger. Guess I'll have to do my holiday sports card shopping elsewhere this year. I am so done with COMC.
Anywho... I added a much shorter post to my 1993 Blog today. I'm not saying that I'll add you to my Christmas gift list if you follow The 1993 but I'm not not saying that 😜
Thanks for reading!