We moved to Champaign, Illinois when I was 3. Dad had been working at the University of Illinois for 8 years and traveling back and forth 47 miles each way. This was okay in the summer, but treacherous in the winter.
At first, my parents rented a home. It was awful. We had snakes everywhere – which is why I cannot stand being around one or even seeing one – and we had a prowler. I remember going to my grandpa’s house so Dad could get his shotgun. He was going to take the guy out. Spooky when you’re 3. I can remember the bad guy coming into the house and Mom screaming for Dad. The guy ran off, but we moved.
We were watching Ozzie and Harriet a lot in those days. So when Mom and Dad came home to tell us they’d bought a home, I thought it was going to be like that house. You know, a big staircase, lovely bookcases, nice and big.
Not exactly. Our new home was 840 sq. feet and had two bedrooms and one bathroom. The dining room was in the living room, but we didn’t use it for that. We ate in the kitchen, which was large for the size of the house.
We were the second house off a busy street. The first was a tiny house set way back on their lot. There was a gas station on the corner and a grocery store across the busy street. I saw a lot of accidents living there. One in particular with a guy on a motorcycle who flew up and hit the electric post. Not sure he survived that.
We had good neighbors unless you count Mickey and Minnie HaHa – which was their nicknames to us – she was a harridan and he was just odd. She always complained if we looked at her yard. Dad put up a fence to shut her up.
The other neighbors were great. I had some kids to play with and it was a great place to grow up. We had a huge backyard and put up a badminton net and played all summer.
I graduated high school still living in this house. Dad had wanted to buy another one and remodel it but Mom wouldn’t hear of it. Shame because I wanted to move too. I wanted that Ozzie and Harriet house bad.
My parents didn’t leave that home until 1981, when they sold up and started building themselves a new home on a lake just west of Champaign. I wasn’t sad to see them leave – the house had done all it could for them and it was time to go.
By that time, I was married and had my own home. We had just moved away from Illinois to Iowa. I still didn’t have Ozzie and Harriet’s home ……….. I wouldn’t get that until 2007, moving to Maine, with a house with a large staircase, built-in bookshelves and high ceilings ……… it took me a while, but we got there.