Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Streets that Bind -- Washington Avenue
But if one asked about my boyhood home, I think of Washington Avenue. I moved there three times, twice to the same address. I lived on that street for 13 of my first 15 years.
It wasn't the longest street in the world, although it seemed so when, as a child, I walked it. It ran probably less than a half-mile end to end. It ran one block east of my own block, but I seldom had reason to go that way. It ran two long blocks to the west of mine and at the end of these, just before the creek, were my church and the movie theater. A half block off Brandywine Avenue also called Creek Road, at 120 Washington, was an apartment building where my life-long best friend lived when I first met him. (I've told the story of our meeting in "The Kid Met Him in the Funny Pages".)
On the left is 120 Washington as it looks today (actually not much different from then) and my not quite yet best friend sitting in the window of his apartment there.
Gee, he was kind of cute back in those days.
We were eight years old in this photo and you won't find any other pictures of me getting quite so chummy with a girl that early on in my life. Now it is true I kissed a girl named Michele around this same time period (and got in a bit of trouble because of it) but I never had any true feelings for Michele as I secretly did for Mary Jane.
I suppose I should explain how I came to be a Washington Avenuer.
I know why my parents moved from the Modena apartment (bedbug infestation combined with financial need) to Whitford; but why the move shortly after to town I don't know. The "big house", as they called it, in Whitford appears to be large enough to accommodate two families, in fact, was probably larger than 424 Washington Avenue.
The Whitford house was where my mother grew up, so it had been my grandparents long time abode and was near to my grandfather's own family roots.
Why a second time? Why did we even move away from 424 a first time? Easy to explain, the war ended.
My dad had been in the South Pacific most of those first years at that 424 address. He got his discharge a couple years after the war ended and returned home in 1947. He got his first job as a long distance truck driver that fall, driving milk tankers for a man named Hines. A friend of his had told dad the company was hiring, but not to tell Old Man Hines he knew mechanics or he would never get outside the garage. Dad got the driver job instead at $100 a month and the house in the swamp.
That house in the swamp was to have a great impact on my life and personality, but that is a different story. This one is about Washington Avenue.
So how did I get back there for the next five and half years of my boyhood?
Easy, my dad changed jobs for more money. In late 1949 he began driving for Atkinson Trucking; goodbye Hines, goodbye house in the swamp.
That is a picture of 417 Washington taken several years after I lived there as a child.
Eventually I will tell more tales of life on Washington Avenue.