Tuesday, March 10, 2009

3603 East 13th Street

3603 East 13th Street - Remembrance

For those of you who don’t recognize this address, you will possibly recognize it from this picture

This was the house that I grew up in and that Mom and Dad lived in until their respective recent deaths. This house has just been sold and so now after over 54 years of being owned by the Lucas family, it is now going to be owned by someone else. The papers have all been signed and we are just waiting for the court to formally allow the sale. The closing was supposed to occur today, but we needed a judge to approve my brother Bill’s ability to represent the four of us in this sale. If the house wasn’t officially sold today, then it will be as soon as the court does it job.

More about the new owners later at the end of this note.

Dad and Mom bought this house in 1954 when I was 4 years old. I believe it was in the fall of the year, but bringing back memories from that age means it could have been anytime of the year. I only know that the next school year I started kindergarten at Sidney Lanier School that was 6 blocks away. I believe Dad and Mom picked out this house because of its location near elementary, junior high (Woodrow Wilson Jr. High) and high schools ( Will Rogers High School). Through out my primary and secondary education in Tulsa, I walked or rode a bicycle to school almost every day. Dad paid $13,000 for that house. The loan payment was $65 a month, but he paid it off in only a few years.

Those of you that have been there know that the house sits on a wide lot, much wider than any others in the neighborhood. When we moved in, the hedge row that sits on the east side of the house was only about 10 feet away from the house and the other side of the hedge was an empty lot that at one time was a trolley turn around, at least that’s what I’ve been told. That lot was more of a dump and a play area for the neighbors than anything else when we moved in. But Dad investigated who owned it, and found that he could buy it if he paid the back taxes on it. So he did buy it, cleaned it up, filled the holes and leveled it, and then dug up and moved the hedge row over to where it is now. That lot became our baseball and football field. I don’t know how many kitchen windows we broke from line drives hit at our neighbor’s house, the Ledbetters. Whenever we did, Dad always went over and put a new glass in for them.

When we first moved in Ron and I had the downstairs bedroom and Sam and Bill had the upstairs. This was a big improvement from the old house on Florence Place where we all slept in the same room. I remember that the house had dark green carpet and dark green walls when we first moved in. The carpet stayed for quite a while, but he walls got painted fairly soon.

Dad put a basketball rim up on the garage with a plywood backboard. We played basketball out there summer and winter, sometimes with gloves on when it was cold and often at night in the summer under a bare light bulb that was located above the garage roof. We knew where all of the big cracks were in the driveway and how far back we needed to be to get a shot over the electric wires that ran to the garage from the house. And our basketball games were always played with the garage doors closed, so that when you drove to the basket, you always finished the play by banging into the garage door rather than into the car that was parked there.

The big elm tree in the back by the garage was our other playground. It’s gone now, a causality of last year’s ice storm, but at one time there were 8 different tree houses in that tree. Some were only platforms that one person could sit on and others were larger platforms that could hold several of us, but we were able to climb that tree to get to any of them. In the summer when friends would visit we would often pack a lunch and eat it up in the tree in the coolness of the leaves. We also had a thick cotton rope that was tied high in the tree. The rope had knots in it and we would climb that rope to get into the tree or climb down it to get out. When we went to junior high school and had to climb the gym rope as part of our physical fitness test, we just scampered right to the top and were able to do it using only our arms. It wasn’t hard for us because that’s how we played every day.

And Dad’s garden!! That was his garden, but we all worked in it. Dad didn’t believe in using things like mechanical tillers. When spring came we all went to the garden to help turn the dirt with shovels, rake it smooth and get it ready for planting. Dad grew tomatoes, okra, green beans, onions, beets, lettuce, radishes, garlic, asparagus, corn, squash, and cucumbers. We all picked the harvest and Mom canned and froze it all summer long so we had plenty of vegetables to eat in the winter.

The house had two floor furnaces in it that provided heat for the whole house. There was (and still is) an open gas heater up stairs, but I think it is probably only a miracle that none of us died from carbon monoxide poisoning when we used it. The floor furnaces were all manual, so when we went to bed at night they were turned off, and Dad would turn them back on in the morning when he got up for work. Once out of bed on those cold days, we all could be found standing straddled over that grate in the floor trying to get warm enough to put our clothes on. We didn’t get air conditioning in the house until after I left for college. Our ventilation was an attic fan that pulled the outside air in through the windows to cool the house. During the day Mom closed the curtains to keep the sun out and we used fans to circulate the air. It’s what we had and it was good enough.

Mom always had a washing machine, but never had a dryer until after I left for college. I remember Mom hanging sheets out on the clothes lines in the back during the winter wearing gloves to keep her hands warm. In the winter the clothes would often freeze before they dried and she would have to work to fold them up enough to get them into her clothes basket. This was all before “permanent press” too. So shirts and pants were brought in, sprinkled with water and put in a basket for ironing the next day. I do remember Mom ironing the clothes while watching her soap opera “Stories” in the morning.

I know there are lots of stories I could tell, but this is getting awfully long and probably has put some of you to sleep. So I apologize for my rambling. I know my brothers each have their own stories to tell about his house, and maybe if you are lucky, you will hear them some day.

And finally the new owners, they are a couple of grandparents who are moving from Denver to Tulsa to be close to their children and grandchildren. As it turns out, the house is located only 2-3 blocks from where each of their two sons and their families live. I think Mom is glad to know that her house will provide a home for these people so they can be near their children. Mom always wanted her boys and their families to live close by, but only Bill came back and for less than a year while she was alive. So that this house will provide something that Mom always wanted will be a blessing to the house and to us.


Lucas said...

That didn't at all put me to sleep. I loved every word of it. Thanks for including a bit about the new owners. One of the hardest parts of losing both Grandma and Grandpa in such a short time frame was losing that house as well. So many memories for all of us. :)

The Life and Times of Poose and Hawk said...

I love all the stories! Did you know that in the OC you can't even hang clothes out to dry-too unsightly for your neighbors. yet another reason....

Beyond The Strip said...

Thanks for sharing the memories Don, I hope the new owners love it as much as you do.

Maxanna said...

Beautiful story, Beautiful house, Beautiful family, And always Beautiful memories. I'm glad I have some of my very own.

T-Bird said...

During my time, a tire swing hung from the big tree by the garage. I used to bring my laundry over when I was in college but had to do some fast talking to get Grandpa to let me use the drier, even if it was cold and cloudy. There are picures of all of us at every age taken on the front porch, even one of me with all six of my kids and two grandkids. We all loved that house because of the love we felt when we were in it. It's sad to lose the house but the love, we take with us and can keep forever.

lil sis said...

A house is just a house, but Grandma and Grandpa made it a home. For all of us, you kids, your kids and the great grandkids too. Even my children who only had 4-16 years there love it and will miss going there. The stories are priceless as was our time there. I have a scrap of the old carpet from upstairs and will never get rid of it. It reminds me of all the precious times I had there with my Grandpa and Grandma. Thanks for the post, history and memories.