Looking Back

Our son passed through Buffalo New York on Sunday, the place  where I was born and where I lived through my university years.  He  managed to Skype the area with me.

Both my Mom and Dad taught at the University there. My brother, sister and I all lived in a rented house near the University until I was 4 years old.

The rental home. I don’t remember this house. I do recall breaking my arm one day, my brother walking me home, and my Mom reading me “Little Black Sambo”.Aug18-2014HouseLisbon

This is the school my brother (and sister?) attended nearby. It is now closed and for sale.Aug18-2014Lisbon-school

We then moved to a purchased house in 1946, also within walking distance of the campus. I have memories of carrying Scarlet the cat in a bag while being pulled in the wooden wagon to the new house.

This is the house as I remember it.Aug18-2014old483-Winspear

This is the house as it looks today. My son and I spoke to the new owner of my former home over Skype!
This is where I learned to roller skate with clamp on skates with a key. My best friend was Kathy. She lived in the corner house. Her father was a doctor. Her mother had an ironing machine and gave us Toni home permanents. I practically lived with them. They had the first TV set I ever saw. There were vacant lots where we played nearby. My first school was a half block away from home and the teachers were mostly very good. Joan was my best friend in my class. She had red hair, beautiful penmanship and was artistically talented! Her father worked at Bethlehem Steel and her mother was a  homemaker. She had a younger sister and they lived in a nice apartment. We hooked up once more in University!

Public School #80 as it looks today.Aug18-2014PS80

I loved talking with the neighbors as they watered their lawns, painted their houses, walked their babies in carriages and so on. I was on a mission to learn what a “normal” family was like! My family was different and I knew it. How? Dad rode a bike to work, wore a beret and carried a briefcase. Mom used a bundle buggy to shop for groceries. NO ONE else did! She graded papers, prepared lessons, and used the Albright Know Gallery for gathering slides for her classes. We had no car and took buses everywhere. My brother played with electronics, not with other children. My sister read books in Latin and galloped like a horse on the street. I remember her practicing to fly as she repeatedly jumped off the front steps. That was proof to me that no family was like ours!

So well over 50 years later, there was my son Skyping me a view of the neighborhood, the newly renovated grammar school, and speaking with the happy new owner of our former home. I have been thinking how this home and neighborhood shaped me…mostly for the good.

As we prepare for a great move to Western Canada next month, many thoughts are churning on the roles of the houses in my past. I’m sure there will be tales to tell in future years about our new adventure. This will be no condo or retirement home, it will be a home with a modest garden near family, near grandchildren. This will be part of my continuing search for what makes a “real” family. Obviously doing things together with them close by will be the best part! Early October will be an exciting experience with our son helping set up the electronics and with our daughter showing us the ropes of living on an island and shopping and banking etc on the mainland, a short ferry ride away.

Perhaps I’ll practice trying to fly with the young ones. 🙂


About fromourisland

Gardener, knitter, wife, mother of 2, grandmother, and lots more.
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6 Responses to Looking Back

  1. Judy says:

    I’m impressed that you knew enough to look for normal people at such a young age. I was still assuming that I was normal then 🙂

  2. bee1designs says:

    Lived in Buffalo all my life. Love your former garden and look forward to your new one. Wish you and your family great new memories in the making. Don’t we make our own ‘normalcy’? Hugs…

  3. gardenbug says:

    It seems I made a few errors. My brother tells me that I missed a house along the way. First was the rental home shown near the school that is now for sale. Then we moved to a second rental, a short distance away on University Avenue. This one was near Public School 83, which has since been sold. The broken arm story occurred near the second rental house. I remember nothing about either rented house.

  4. Alice Jordon says:

    Marie, I just loved a bit of history of your growing up years. You are just about to spread your wings and fly! Lots of courage required but lots of joy once you make the journey!!! I don’t think I was from a normal family either (were any of us?). My dad was approaching 50 and my Mom 43 when their one and only was born. We lived in a shack made of pieces of surplus lumber–started out as a storage building–then a tennis club (they added a bathroom with a tiny shower)–and back to a storage building where my Dad stored his equipment and slept on a cot when he was too tired to drive to the lake where he lived on a house boat. By the time I was born they had added a galley kitchen and a tiny room (6’6″ X 7’7″) for me. The entire house was 24’x24′. Not a single door or window matched. It was not insulated and water would freeze on the table beside my parent’s bed. My parents never paid rent to live there till Mother realized the owners were paying our water bill at which time she started paying $5 a month paid biannually–$30 just before Christmas and $30 the month taxes were due. Looking back on it, I feel certain our neighbors paid more in property tax on the land and house than we ever paid in rent. Daddy started living there in 1936 and Mother stayed till 81–when it was demolished for a new bridge across the Tennessee River. It was a very happy house–the stories it could tell!

    • Marie Holt says:

      Wonderful to read your history. Houses tell lots about us! On Aug 19, 2014 8:34 PM, “Gardenbug World” wrote:


  5. Jack says:

    Marie, this was a most enjoyable trip down memory lane with you. I was in my hometown this weekend for a xxth high school reunion (I’m not confessing) and took the time to drive past the first house I lived in and the site of the second (which has been torn down to make way for apartments). I did my trip alone and didn’t knock on any doors.

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