My picking excursions take me on many back roads in the country, and the side benefit to my vintage finds is often discovering beautiful old homes from another era tucked away in a grove of trees.
In an earlier entry I mentioned I did a portion of growing up in Kirkwood, Missouri, a suburb outside St. Louis. My father worked in sales for the American Can Company and was transferred there in the early 1970s to service the Anheuser-Busch account.
My parents had become fairly adept at finding the right home as a result of several corporate relocations. This move was their first off the East Coast, however, and the Midwest seemed like a whole new world.
They subsequently landed on a beautiful tudor, the first home built in this neighborhood, in 1928. When I was giving friends directions on how to find my house, they’d usually respond with, “Oh, the castle.” I remember my parents talking one day in hushed tones about how it was the most expensive house they had ever bought, at $50,000, but my mother just loved it.
I hated it. At 9 years old I knew everything about design and I must have asked them once a week for a year why they didn’t just buy the modern ranch next door with the pool. This house was so old; one of the bedrooms didn’t even have a closet! And those old bathtubs were so big it took forever for them to fill up. And it certainly didn’t have any air conditioning.
Eventually I got off my complaining and just enjoyed my middle school years in that sweet town. My dad got transferred back to Connecticut and my parents bought a house in Newtown, the same town we had left for Missouri six years earlier.
This time they bought a house just as it was being finished. A high school sophomore, I could care less. My mother, however, at 39, yearned for her tudor for many years.
As is usually the case, we appreciate the wisdom and insight of our parents as we become adults. Though I love my little clapboard cottage in Virginia, I often imagine myself raising my family in that beautiful tudor on the hill in Missouri. At nine years old I had an adorable private half bath with a tiny crank-out leaded glass window. That octagonal room over the front door we called the library. And in that small maid’s room with no closet (my baby brother’s), my mother placed the first piece of vintage furniture I can recall: an oak armoire for his tiny clothes.
I have no idea how many families have lived in that house, or if I’ll ever see it again now that I’ve lived on the east coast since 1977. Maybe they’ve added onto it or even replaced the old sliding garage doors.
We are the sum of our experiences, I’m told. I really believe the experience of living in that old tudor planted the seeds of appreciating the history, beauty and craftsmanship of all things old. And it has brought me here, to Housemade.