Saturday, January 10, 2009

The house on Jericho Road, Abington

(My parents owned this, our family house, for about sixty years. Then the house lacked the extension on the rear and, when I was young, the other houses in the picture had not yet been built.)

Visiting my grand-nephew’s bedroom at Christmastime reminded me of the room that I shared with my brother while growing up in the house on Jericho Road in Abington. Over the years the house and neighborhood appear in my dreams as the most desirable geography in this world. But, of course, the dreams also identify it as a place to which it is not possible to return, a place that has long ago disappeared. How can I describe entering the house on a cold winter’s evening when the sun light is setting over the snow and dinner beckons? We stomp our way into the basement through the side door and plaster a snow ball against the iron-walled coal furnace just for the pleasure of hearing the hissing and watching the steam.

Those who now live in the house purchased it from my father’s estate in 1993. The new owners transformed the house and even put a large addition at the back, an extension easy to see in the photograph. What my father and mother purchased as a simple house for $6,500 in the middle of the depression is now transformed into a home worth several hundred thousand dollars.

My Prep-student grand-nephew has a small study desk in his room where he tackles his algebra and Latin homework. His desk reminded me of my dad’s renovations in the bedroom that my brother and I shared, the room on the third-floor front. (Our window can be seen in the picture and a story can be told about the window, too!) When we were small the room had no electrical outlets, no desks and no closet. But my dad remedied all of these things with his own hands. He built two small desks in along the north wall opposite our twin beds. As my brother and I sat at the desks, we could turn on lamps plugged into convenient outlets installed at eye level. My brother and I often studied side by side, he working on college math that I found mysterious and I handwriting some clumsy essay that we Prep students were required to grind out every weekend.

My father loved the house and spent many a weekend on maintenance, repairs and renovations. What would he think of seeing it now, the silver maple he planted on the front lawn towering above the house, the brick and stone patio we built together at the back of the house destroyed with the extension? Whatever he thinks of Jericho Road, I know he prays for his thirteen great grandchildren with the hope that they all continue to grow in nurturing households like the one he and my mother created for their five children.