Warning: This post represents a self-indulgence that was interesting to me, and probably me alone. It’s navel-gazing at its worst, or best — depending on whether you’re me or not.
So, yes, this past Monday I went down a rabbit hole made possible by the wonders of the internet. I forget how I got started, but am sure it was fairly innocent. Wherever it began, what I know is that several hours later I ‘came to’ having ‘visited’ every house I can remember occupying in my years here on earth. And it was interesting (and slightly disturbing) to note that I can’t actually remember the exact location of some of those places. But what follows is a basic chronology…with photos when I can find them, and links, when it’s all I’ve got!
It’s an enterprise that I highly recommend to you, dear reader. After Googling and pinning down every domicile I could think of in my history, I came away having remembered things long out-of-mind. And I felt like I had a much more holistic perspective on my life. Seems like that’s never a bad thing.
The first house:
I’ll not share the address of this one, as I use parts of it occasionally in passwords. Norton opines that this is not a great idea. But, as you may have figured out by now, I sometimes ignore good advice. So here’s the house, as depicted in a painting that my father did many years ago. This is where I spent my earliest years, up through first grade.
After this home, we moved, in 1959, to another house in Havertown, Pennsylvania. This is where I lived through the rest of my childhood and, off and on, until I left Pennsylvania in 1984. Click this link for a tour — I’m not too impressed with what the most recent owners did to the place, but unfortunately, what you see is all-too-often often the shiny face of ‘progress.’
Here’s the fireplace in the living room.
This is where Aunt Emma and I had our conversation.
Nothing looks the same, except the fireplace itself, the half-circle window above it, and the two French doors going out to what was a sunporch back then.
After college I lived in a few different places, starting with a row house on Lombard Street in Philadelphia whose address I cannot recall. It was great being in Center City back then. I remember seeing Melissa Manchester in concert on the steps of the Art Museum. In other concerts there I saw Mary Travers and also Manhattan Transfer. I biked all over, and thoroughly enjoyed the time. The first Star Wars movie came out while I was living there that summer, and Elvis died.
The entire area has been lavishly gentrified since that summer of 1977.
Here’s a photo of what the place looked like from the outside. Click the photo and you can tour the inside of another Lombard Street house to get an idea of what folks are doing with these spaces now. It’s all WAY fancier than anything was in that area back then.
My next landing spot, after Lombard Street, was Ardmore, where I began a 6-year visit to the Main Line. (Speaking of gentrified, I believe the Main Line may have invented the term.)
The place I call ‘The Ardmore House’ was at 207 Church Road and I’ve written about it here. It was an interesting and warm place to live, and may have been the first place where I experienced hints of what it was like to feel at home.
The house was owned by Philadelphia Electric and they basically ignored the place, which was great for us. There were 8 bedrooms, and a core group of 4 or 5 that didn’t vary much (myself included) lived there with others in and out. My third floor room, in 1978, cost $49 a month.
I briefly moved out of the Ardmore House and into ‘The Rosemont House’ in 1980. This was a feminist house and I was intrigued and also, I think, flattered when they reached out, although it was sad to leave Ardmore. At the time I moved in there were 4 women and 2 kids living there. I made the 5th adult.
Over the course of that year people started moving out. As the exodus gained momentum the household in Rosemont basically became unsustainable, so I moved back to the Ardmore House.
Sadly, the Rosemont House was torn down many years later. I don’t know precisely when, but now there’s a big vacant lot on Montgomery Avenue, where it used to stand.
Looking back, I shudder to think how many bricks and boards and books and record albums and other precious objects got moved from place-to-place during these years. But it’s what we all did. And some of those boards and wooden crates are still kicking around here in 2022.
A couple of years later, we learned that Philadelphia Electric was looking to sell the Ardmore House. So we all needed to move out.
I moved, with two other folks from the house, to a house in Narberth (another Main Line Town) that we rented from the family of someone who had lived at the Ardmore House during the summers for many years. We lived here for about a year.
And all this time I was working for the Lower Merion School District. But then in 1982 or 3 I applied for a job at Bryn Mawr College, more or less on a whim. Uncharacteristically, when they offered me the job I negotiated. I asked for things I wanted, like more salary, etc. They kept saying okay so it got to a point where I felt guilty NOT accepting the position. So I did, and I worked at Bryn Mawr’s Child Study Center until I moved to NH in the summer of 1984.
Meanwhile, while I was changing jobs, I moved again, this time to a house in Roxborough (part of Philly) that had been bought by the two friends I’d been living with in Ardmore and then again in Narberth.
I’m not sure of the exact address, but it was on Leverington Avenue. The house was a definite fixer-upper and I only lived there for a couple of months before moving back to Havertown for an easier commute to Bryn Mawr. Now, this is another section of Philly that is significantly gentrified. I’m pretty sure that the picture here is of the actual house that we were living in — but the environment was WAY different! Click on the picture to see more photos of the house. Its layout was very much like Aunt Emma and Aunt Helen’s house in Germantown (another section of Philadelphia).
I moved to New Hampshire in the summer of 1984, living first on Southwest Road, then Wyven Road, then Abbott Road, and starting in 1990, where I live today. And to end, here’s a picture of this last house, also painted by my father.