, , , , , , , ,

So many good ways to go with that title.

It was, in fact, a “very, very, very fine house.”

It was not, in fact, “in the middle of our street”, but it was still awesome.

When I looked at the list of writing prompts this week for Mama Kat’s, I realized, I really wanted to talk about the house that I grew up in.  I loved that house.  I figured it would be pretty easy to draw the floor plan from memory, being as I lived in it from the time I was almost three until when I got married at 23, and then again, when the Husband and I moved back in a year later.  My oldest son even took his first steps there.  It wasn’t just a house.  It was my home, my school, my hangout, a part of me.

So, imagine my surprise when I started drawing up this floor plan and started having difficulty remembering exactly how far out the linen closet stuck into the second floor hallway, and just how big the butler’s pantry was.  I cannot believe how much of it is slipping away.  Thankfully, there are always pictures (of which I have none because computers apparently hate me and eat all of my old photos) and memories, which are many and great.  Trust me, anyone who ever came to that house, as long as we lived there at least, will have at least five awesome memories of being there.

Now, on to the plans (and you may want to get comfy; this could take a while):

The Basement:

Yes, it was that important.

You see over there, in section 1?  That was technically our classroom.  Did we actually spend all day, every day there?  No, but we did keep most of our books, and our old Tandy, and our awesome office furniture turned school desks there.  It was a little dark, but we had some seriously good times in that room.

2) This was the tool room, a dark, ominously scary place, to be avoided at all times and cost, unless we need holiday decorations.  In that case, it was a must.

3) Dad’s “Office”/Furnace Room.  Yes, our classroom was only accessible through said furnace room.  HarTimmy and I didn’t like to think about that either.  It made the place a, well, a furnace in the winter.  We fell asleep over our books more than once because of this, especially while doing Biology.

4) Storage.  Nothing much here, just everything, kinda all over the place.

5) Permanent Play Pen.  My mom’s idea.  She had my brother’s close in this little area with half walls between the pillars, threw down some carpet and toys, and voila!  Instant cage pen play are for the grandkids.

6) Under the Basement Stairs.  Scary. As. Hell.  ‘Nough said.

7) Behind the Basement Stairs storage area.  See above.

8) This are is hard to define.  At times it was a roller rink, a TV lounge, a bar, a disco, a karaoke joint, a game room.  Basically, it was whatever we felt like using it for.  It was even, at one time, the place where three grown ass people hid from their father on Christmas Eve in a tiny toy castle before being told to “Go to bed!” and then erupting into fits of giggles.  You know, typical basement stuff.

9) Bathroom.  Boring.  And, scary. As. Hell.  At night.

10) Laundry Room.  This was apparently the old coal cellar when the house was first built from what I remember.  As laundry rooms go, it was pretty basic.

On to the First Floor:

1) Family Room.  This room was just about perfect.  Warm and toasty in the winter, sunny, bright, and cool in the summer.  This was our main TV room, and the host of many an awesome Thanksgiving dinner.  We’d empty out the furniture and bring in about five tables, lined up end to end to accommodate everyone.  You could barely move, especially if you ended up on the inside, in the middle of the table, but those dinners will always be one of the best parts of our family history.  Those, and the board games on New Year’s Eve.

2) The Library.  Yes.  The Library.  I believe it was originally a den, with it’s paneling and all but thanks to it’s built in book shelves and the stained glass windows of lamps sitting on books, we always called it the Library.  It was used as another TV room for years, and we had this awesome couch that sat about 8 adults that Goodwill refused to take when it was finally time to let it go even though that’s where we had purchased it, but I digress.  Thanks to some awesome pocket doors, it opened onto:

3) The Living Room.  The grown up one, the one we weren’t really supposed to be in unless we were told to be or for which we had a real reason.  Thankfully, it’s where the piano was, and so, anyone who could play (that or any other instrument) was allowed in whenever they wanted.  HarTimmy and I used to play and sing some fricking amazing nice duets in there.  It was also the site of our yearly Christmas Eve. recitals.  Yes, mom made us put on a recital every year.  I played the recorder, HarTimmy, the piano.  We recited poems and sang.  It was actually great fun.  So there.  Be jealous.

4) Hallway.  Nice, big hallway, but a hallway nonetheless.

5) Dining Room.  Built in side server and china cabinet.  Big enough to house our large dining room table that mom had built out of the planks of an old ship to fit our whole family (at the time).  That weird curvy part?  Windows.  I could not get it just right no matter how hard I tried.  Oh well.  There was a plate rail around the whole room, where mom kept her china.  Harvey (the real Harvey, our cat) used to sit up there and touch the stuff, just to remind us as we ate, that he was there, and he deserved payment for his excellent service.  Phantom, our other cat, used to get stuck up there trying to do the same.  You see the difference here?  Yeah.  He was “special”.  We had some of the best dancing there on New Year’s Eve.  Best. Parties. Ever.  Just ask around.

6) Butler’s Pantry.  Dish storage, dishwasher, basic.

7) Main Kitchen. Big open space, with tons of cabinets, both for display and storage.  One of the best rooms in the house.  Everyone ended up there, for tea in the afternoon, coffee in the morning.  Always had enough to feed whoever showed up.

8) Smaller Kitchen.  Generally where we kept the stoves and fridge.  Also, the ice box.

9) Tiny Powder Room.

10) Vestibule.

11) Front Steps.  Great Easter pictures taken there.

I almost forgot, in rooms 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7, we had Christmas trees.  Rooms 1, 2, 3, and 5 had live ones and room 7 had a tiny little fake one.  We really like Christmas.

The Second Floor:

1) My Childhood Bedroom.  I didn’t realize how big this room was until I was grown and had seen more varieties of houses I guess.  My neighborhood is full of big old houses, so it was nothing out of the ordinary to me.  I loved that room.  Great light.  Beautiful trees to look out on.  A clear view straight to my best friend’s house.  Even a door going into HarTimmy’s room.  Yeah, if mom sent us both to our rooms, it was pointless.  We’d open the door, throw a board game on the floor in the doorway, and, while staying in our own rooms, be completely entertained. Sorry mom.

2) HarTimmy’s Bedroom.  He was there the entire time he lived in the house. It was so…neat…so very neat.  And bright red.  He painted it “Marlboro Red”, on purpose.  It was awesome.

That black spot outside our rooms?  That was the roof of the family room.  It used to be a porch which was closed and made into an actual room sometime in the 1920s.  I only mention it because, when we were young and if we were bored, we’d open our window and head on out.  Once, HarTimmy told me to bring my Smurfmobile on out with me.  Great idea, right?  Scared the hell out of our sister, who saw us up there, wheeling around on the roof, on her way home from school.  I still laugh whenever I think of that one.

Ok, so,

3) Master Bath.  Also accessible (when not locked) from HarTimmy’s room.  Lovely stained glass windows in that one.

4) Master Bedroom.  Big enough that their king size bed and full set of furniture never seemed to crowd it.   I remember watching movies in there on mom and dad’s bed, and going in early on Christmas morning and being told to wait quietly until it was time to get up for Mass.

5) Hall Bath. Roughest shower floor I’ve ever felt.

6) Bedroom.  This room belonged to more than one person throughout out 25 years in the house.  It had this awesome closet up on the wall we’d use when we played inside hide and go seek.

7) Hallway.

8) Linen Closet.  I mention this because it was always an awesome place to hide during games.  You could pop out at the person who was it if you knew you were going to be caught.  Just ask HarTimmy.

Finally, the Third Floor.  Basically, every room on this floor belonged to more than one person throughout the years.  I’m going to talk about the ones that I remember most.

1) The Scientist’s Nursery. We think this was at one point a nanny’s room, because 1A) is this huge set of floor to ceiling cabinets and closets, with places for labels.  The thing is huge, especially for such a tiny room.  I painted the most adorable giant argyle pattern around the walls of the room when we moved back in with the baby.  I always remember this room being a happy place.

2) This was our everything else room.  We had our TV and couch in it and also a kitchen and a small bathroom (number 3, which we never used).  Before us, it belonged to one of my sister’s for years.  We spent some good times up there, painting nails and reading trashy magazines.

4) This was the other baby room, which we used for the Scientist when the Ninja Monkey needed the nursery.  Before that, for years and years, it was my other sister’s room.  I can’t even count the number of times I barged in on her, interrupting her studies and schoolwork, just because I was bored.  She had posters everywhere and great music all the time.

5) Bathroom.  If you’re keeping track, that’s the 5th full one.

6) My Grownup Bedroom.  This is where the Husband and I lived when we moved in.  It was huge.  Enough room for the bassinet and the swing (both of which were needed for the Ninja Monkey as he never slept.

The best thing about the third floor (which quite honestly terrified a part of me until I actually moved up there myself) was the view.  The Scientist always asks if I remember when we lived in the “tree house”, because that was all you saw looking out the windows.

So, now that I’ve thoroughly exhausted your patience, thanks for staying with me this long.  (If you didn’t, no hard feelings; I know I droned a bit here.)  Even though we haven’t lived there for about five years now, we all of us still turn to each other from time to time and, sighing, say, “That was a great house.”  It was.  Maybe next time I’ll tell you all about the backyard and the neighborhood.  Would you believe I grew up in Newark?

PS- In case you noticed the file names of the pictures, our house was referred to as the Tiffany Mansion because it is believed to have been made by Louis Comfort Tiffany as a wedding present for his new bride.  The story goes that she saw it, hated it, and they never lived there.  We don’t know for sure, but it would certainly explain all the Tiffany style stained glass all over the place.


In response to prompt number 2 in this weeks edition of Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop. Head on over and check out the awesomeness.

Mama’s Losin’ It