The House I Loved, 1 of 3 of 5 (Bahama Avenue), @1976-1982

From Stadium Installation, Victor Sloan

(Not every home I grew up in I loved, thus the “1 of 3 of 5” in the title. )

As a child, I grew up with parents who were perpetual renters. When I was little, my sister and I grew up on Bahama Avenue and my brother was born a few years later. I remember so many random things from that house and the neighborhood. I remember picking up my brother from the babysitter after school when I was about 8 years old, back in the days when you could actually trust an 8-year old to babysit, like in the days of the Little Rascals. I feel tremendous guilt about that period of time because I’d always plunk my baby brother into the crib so that I could go out and play. (Well, I was EIGHT, for crying out loud. What do you expect?)

The landlord’s name as I recall was “Orestes Ortega”. Please don’t ask why I remember this. Maybe it’s because he was similar to Jose Canseco, who I learned about later in life. I remember our landlord as a hard-working muscle man, which is probably why I remember him! In fact, as I embark upon this series of posts about the homes that surrounded me while I matured, I will likely be a bit random about my thoughts. Nostalgia, here. Bear with me! 

Random thoughts about the house on Bahama Avenue: There was a brick wall with a hole in it for mail. Once, there was a “croaking” creature in there probably placed by a neighbor boy. (Yes, only a boy would do something that juvenile, I believed.) I remember trying with all my might to reach it but I was too little to reach. I remember the huge palm tree in front of the tiny house. I remember rollerskating and skinning every shoulder and knee I had. I remember also going across the grass in my rollerskates only to find my front rollerskates wheels at the head of a dead rodent once. I remember the boy across the street chasing me around with a dead bird in his outstretched hand and when he couldn’t catch me, he tossed the bird into my hair, where it stuck until I shook like a mad-woman for it to fall out. I remember washing my hair in the sink that afternoon and hearing my parents talk about one of their friend’s daughters who started washing her hair every night when she had a boyfriend. (“Gross!” I thought. “Not that yukky boy across the street!”) It was too embarassing for me to admit that I let a boy toss a dead bird into my hair…

There was an old couple who lived down the street with the most beautifully perfect garden I’d ever seen. The flowers were so perfect, always. I remember another old man who helped take us to ballet lessons. I remember the mean old neighbor lady who almost hit me with her car when I was riding my bike down the sidewalk, only to have her stomp to our front door and insist that I not ride on the sidewalk anymore and ride in the street instead. (Um, contrary to what my parents told me!) I remember an older kid down the street named Michael McGee — we would always sing “Michael McGee, he drinks pee!” I remember being in the backyard of that house digging in the dirt for those little jeweled plastic beads that someone left there. I found a little black bead which struck me as odd until I squeezed it and it turned out to be a newly squished potato bug and not a beautiful bead after all.

The school I attended from kindergarten to 3rd grade at Lorin Eden Elementary School was wonderful. I remember being the first kid to find a mushroom on the field when the class went mushroom hunting. I remember the teacher Mrs. Vassar who was always concerned about whether or not I ate breakfast. I remember our little Pekinese dog who would always run away when the gate was open, only to end up with the kids in the entire neighborhood chasing after the little buggar. (A BOY dog, by the way.)

This house and the surrounding memories still haunt me these days, in the dreams I have at night. I dream about the house on a warm, quiet summer day when I hear a lone airplane overhead. I dream about the home when I’m stressed, wanting to escape to more carefree days. I remember those days moreso when I look at my nieces or when my brother gives me grief.

I loved being a child.

Do you have fond memories of a house in which you grew up that you can share?

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