I love this picture. It was taken in 1966 in the basement of my parents’ home on Ward in Detroit. It almost looks like a Norman Rockwell painting, the way my Uncle Bill is leaning back with the cue, my Uncle John is supervising in his vest, and my Uncle Joe is taking the shot with cousin Matt advising. My dad is holding me and even my grandpa is watching from the booth.
It’s a perfect image of this nostalgic time that I can’t even truly remember. We moved from the house in 1970 and those pre-6-year-old memories aren’t too specific–just a collage of images mixed with feelings. A fire hydrant we climbed on, the curtains I set on fire by moving a candle too close to the window, burning leaves in a can in the backyard, the cardboard lunar module, complete with Neil Armstrong’s footprints. My dad even took a small wooden ladder, nailed some masonite to it and created a slide for our stairs–no helmet needed, just a lot of pillows on the landing. There seemed to be a lot more snow then, too. Or perhaps it’s like the schewed perspective you get with tiny sinks and chairs in the kindergarten classroom when you go back to visit your old school.
We only live 8 miles from this house right now, but it might as well be in Tokyo. I’ve always wanted to, and never have, knocked on that door to show the current owners some pictures of what their house was like 45 years ago.
I was brave enough to knock on someone else’s childhood home. My great uncle, Harry Kelly, won his second term as governor of Michigan in 1944. Back then, they didn’t mind putting addresses in the paper, so they ran the following publicity shot in the Detroit News, including Harry’s brother’s address in Bloomfield Township…
I sent a copy of this clipping to the current residents of the home, figuring they’d get a kick out of it. I got a call right away and it turns out they’re genealogy fans as well. So when my cousin Sharon was in town from Florida, we were invited to stop by the house she hadn’t been in since she was a young girl in the early 1950’s. It was quite sentimental as we toured the home and she was able to extract story after story as we went from room to room. I even got a picture of the same corner of the living room where Harry explained to his parents that he’d indeed won re-election:
It was a great day and maybe, just three years later, I’ll knock on that door and show them a picture of two previous residents of their kitchen…
I think the pool table is gone, but it would be funny if that spice rack was still there.