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AfriGeneas Genealogy and History Forum


I sit, typing inside my childhood home, in my Gram's upper. In 1946 my parents and maternal Gram purchased our home. In 1947 they moved in and were the first African American family on our block. Though I didn't come along until 1961 I've heard some interesting stories about the early days. Dad decided he was going to take off the wallpaper. Since he didn't want to keep renting the machine, they steamed it all off and it took months to get the walls finished. Gram acquired her 38 when a roomer didn't pay his rent so she took it instead & kicked him out. The bus garage is across the street and before that, it was the street car garage. I guess one time my Gram tried to learn to drive but she crashed into the garage. That was the end of her driving.

By the time I came along there were lots of kids on the street. When we were little we could only play a few houses away in either direction. Of course we had to be home when the street lights came on and please don't let my mother yell out my full name to get me home. Luckily we didn’t have to go to the corner store because Miss Carr’s store was in the middle of the block. Right smack in the middle of the city, we didn't have locks on our door until 1967. We did have a mean Collie until 1965 and a German shepherd after that. Our pet dogs have been an integral part of our home. Our non-German shepherds have had S names like us kids, Sandra, Sam, Sonia, Skippy, Spudster, Suede, and Smokey.

No one could beat the house parties Gram & my parents would have. A double was perfect for this. I've heard stories of "Miss Stokes had so much liquor there was even liquor in the bath tub." Our family was very serious about their pinochle games, so cards, food, drinking, and dancing were ongoing upstairs and down. Gram never left her house on her birthday. When she was young, she & Mom would prepare huge amounts of food for the party (including non-fried peach pies, yum!) The party would last for days. That way the January snow couldn’t impede anyone joining her. Her nephews and nieces would all come to celebrate. As she aged, the preparation shifted to Mom and her nieces. Cousin General would bring homemade wine.

I spent a lot of time with my Gram. She had a “hamburger stool” and we had a regular step stool with the flip top that I would have to sit on. I wanted my hamburger stool because it doubled as my spaceship when I laid it down, so I somehow, at the age of 3, dragged my hamburger stool downstairs. In the kitchen Gram had stationary tubs and the clothes basket below was really for my toys. She had a wringer washer in the bathroom and I was terrified it was going to eat her arm. Playing around one day, I found the 38 under her dresser. I knew it was real, so I put it back and never said anything.

From the time I was about 10, Gram would call me upstairs and tell me where the money was hidden. (She switched up the hiding spots). My instructions were that when she died, I was to lock the door and not let anyone in to roam around the house, not even family! Gram was practical in this way, having Life Insurance policies for all her older siblings to help bury them. In 1977 she purchased her plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery. We had to go visit it every Mother’s Day so we’d establish the habit. God blessed us and she wasn’t laid in until 2006. We always joked how when I go, I’m just gonna jump in with her (at least my remains will).

Gram knew that I always wanted to live here, so now it’s me upstairs and Mom downstairs. We’ve watched the neighborhood though its decline and have helped it to rebuild. Funny thing, I thought I was going to write about us changing the siding after 45 years, but home is what has happened on the inside to leave these and other wonderful memories.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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