Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

After the Flood

Whatcha goin’ do when you're standing in your flooded out house?
You are going to call on two beings. First, you are going to pray to God to help you through the waters or the destruction the departed waters have left behind. Then you are going to call your insurance agent.
Mr. Heaney had carried a homeowner’s policy. I don’t remember for certain what company it was, I think it might have been State Farm, but maybe it was Allstate. Doesn’t matter anymore. An adjuster came around and finally they gave an offer on the damages. It wasn’t a lot.

We had another choice to make and not a lot of time for deep pondering. Our lease was expiring on the Congress Avenue rental at the end of June. We had a month to make the ruined Cobbs Street home livable. The decision was as to quality. We could do the basic bargain basement repairs the insurance settlement would cover or we could go to a better upgrade.
We had lived mostly in apartments since we gave up the Cape Cod in Malvern. Lois wanted a real home we could call our own. She was comfortable here in this neighborhood. She had grown up on the street, knew a number of people and had relatives living on the same block. She had not been happy anywhere else we had lived, including the General Warren Village home. I was never particular about where we had a roof over our head and had not understood why she always found something offensive everywhere. After all, some of the places were very nice. Her problems stemmed from her Bipolar, but neither of us knew she had such a thing yet.
We talked about our situation and in the end decided we were going to live here on Cobbs Street for well into the future. We opted to go for good quality repairs and replacements. This meant we would be spending quite a bit above the insurance payout. It meant for the first time since leaving Malvern we would be in debt.
We had, of course, a mortgage on that house we purchased just before we married, but in the years since we had sold it, we did not incur debt, at least not much. I had one credit card through the 1960s, an Atlantic Card. I was given the card when I was originally hired as part of the benefits package. It was very limited. It was only good for gas, auto repairs, TBA (Tires, Batteries and Accessories) and anything you could buy at ARCo or affiliate service stations. When I left ARCo in May of 1969 I had to turn in the card and pay off any balance.
Lois and I got a JC Penney’s card in the 1970s in order to purchase a VHS Player-Recorder.
This was at that time new technology available for the public consumer. I always wanted to be able to collect actual films and now it was possible, if you could afford it. It cost around $100 dollars to purchase a taped film. So, for a long time you rented such things, unless you taped off the TV. The machine was not easy to use. It had a lot of settings, including a bunch of dipsticks on the back you had to push up or down to program what you wanted.
I think the purchase was about $400 and we kept our use of the card small. When I began working at Wilmington Trust I received a MasterCard as part of the benefit package. It had a $5,000 limit. UT oh, plastic temptation in the wallet. Still, we did well at resisting using it even though we now faced lingering medical bills from Lois’ last pregnancy, young children to provide for and my recent unemployment. And now we had to take out a mortgage to rebuild the Cobbs Street house to our standard of quality. We were entering a world of debt that we would never really escape.
The new repaired house was nice. The appliances were all top grade and new. We purchased new furniture. Oh, the daily commute back and forth to Wilmington was a bit of a nuisance, but I was use to long commutes. Driving from Drexel Hill to downtown Wilmington was nothing after years of driving from Pine Hill, New Jersey to South Philadelphia every day. When I began working in Wilmington I would hear my co-workers complain about traffic on I-95. Ha, it was nothing compared to Route 42, the Walt Whitman Bridge and Philly streets. I didn’t think Wilmington traffic was bad at all.

Bad weather didn’t faze me either. People in Delaware would go to panic mode if an inch fell.
I was use to Pennsylvania snows. I grew up with real blizzards and I learned early how to drive in adverse conditions. People in Delaware didn’t know how to drive in snow. The first winter I was showing up on time at work and half the staff wasn’t making it in from a mile away.
No, we felt happy and set with our little family of four in Drexel Hill. The house was small by some standards, but it was like new after the repairs and had enough bedrooms for each of us. There was the master bedroom for Lois and I, the smaller bedroom where we had stayed in the ‘sixties when we lived with her father and the third and smallest bedroom, which made a nice nursery. We believed we would be here for perhaps a decade, maybe longer.

Until Lois uttered those magic words, “I think I’m pregnant.”

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