My nearly daily walks in the Prep neighborhood sometimes include passing 864 North 25th Street, less than a mile away, where my mother grew up with her brother and sister and where her father died in the 1940's. Many a time in my first years of life, I visited my grandparents there. On our visits we would take walks to nearby Fairmount Park and around the Art Museum grounds. And I remember being in the second floor back room of the house with its bay window. There it was that I recall my last meeting with my grandfather who was sick and close to death. I can still picture him sitting in that room with the afternoon sun coming in the bay window.
I did not return to that room until one Sunday about fifty years later. My sister and I happened to be driving on the block and noticed a real estate sign on the house: Open House, Sunday 1 to 4 PM. We took advantage of the real estate agent who was kind enough to let us walk through the house. And what did we find in the back bedroom under the bay window in place of the bed and chair where my grandfather had died? A Jacuzzi! What would my Irish grandfather born in 1859 think of that?
Fast forward to just a month ago: I walked by the house and saw the owner tending to her flower box. I told her how I knew the house and asked about the Jacuzzi. “I knew about that but it didn’t belong there,” she said. And when she bought the house, it was already gone.
There is something fundamentally lovely about those rows of houses and the closeness of one’s neighbors. Parking a car is a headache but then the bus ride to City Hall is only ten minutes. And kids can walk to good schools. Even the young professionals realize that there is no need for a Jacuzzi..