by Paul Big Bear
Do you remember the house you grew up in? Did you have your own bedroom, a yard, how about a basement? Did you have coal heat complete with a coal bin? Did you awaken to the sound of coal going down a chute into your basement coal bin and your grandfather shoveling coal into the furnace? Radiators for heat in the winter where you warmed your feet and hung your clothes to dry the snow on them, open windows and transoms to create a breeze on hot summer nights, I can just see some of you now “What is he talking about?”
Memories, what memories do you have of the house you grew up in? I grew up in many houses; there was my Grandmother’s Lake Ariel home, the apartment in Scranton, the house in Scranton, my father’s parent’s house in Mt. Airy, our house in Narberth, our house in North Hills each held its own memories of growing up. As we moved from one house to another we left behind certain special memories like the coal stove that Grams cooked meals on, the basement where we played as children, the fireplace in the living room where we popped corn, or the window I looked out to see if it had snowed. With each move we left behind pieces of our childhood, segments of our life that we look back on. Yes life is very often a constantly changing landscape; a new coat of paint, furniture gets rearranged, when you first owned a TV and it became the focal point of the living room where the family sat and watched TV together. Changes some big and some little, but isn’t there a true comfort in consistency? Think about Grandmom’s house (yes Grand dad lived there too but it was always Grand mom’s house) You could walk around her house in the dark or with your eyes shut nothing changed, the davenport, the chairs, the coffee table, piano, lights, even when the TV arrived it was put in one spot and it stayed there.
These were things you could count on; Oatmeal on the stove, Pop Pop’s morning cup of coffee as he listened to Ken Garland on the radio, grand mom feeding peanuts to the squirrel in the kitchen window and this was the house where your growth was charted. Did you have a wall or doorway where periodically you would stand tall as a ruler was placed on top of your head and a line marked your new height, your growth. 3’ 6”, 4’ even, each with a date. Even if the room did get a fresh coat of paint it was probably the same color and that piece of history was never touched. Parents and grandparents would look at these chapters in your history and recall; that was the year you started grade school, here is the year you learned to ride a bike, who was it that taught you to ride and lose those training wheels? Here is the year you left home like a bird leaving the nest to fly on your own. Have any of you really carried this on with your own children? Do they stand in that spot and say “How taller am I now?” Chances are if you have been measuring you moved and left those markers behind. Oh sure, they’re just some pencil marks on a doorway but that doorway has recorded each step and doorway that brought me here. My grandparents are long gone as is the homes where growth was recorded, sadly I reached a height of 6’8” and therefore I outgrew the doorway, happily I never outgrew the penciled stories of my life.