By L. Avery Brown
Founder, Real Bloggers United
Editor-in-Chief, RBU: The Group Blog
When I was a little girl I, along with my parents and 2 of my 4 siblings, lived in a one story house that was built in the early 70s. It was a far cry from ‘big’. In fact, it was probably a tad smaller than most homes 35 years ago as it was somewhere close to barely 1,600 square feet. Though, barely 1,600 square feet was actually spacious back then. And today I suppose a realtor would describe my childhood home as ‘cozy’ but to me it was simply ‘home’.
Our house had 3 bedrooms. My parents had their room which to my youthful eyes was huge and it even had a small ½ bath. My sister and I shared a room and my brother got a room all to himself. And even though his was a room just slightly larger than the full bathroom minus the tub, it was, nevertheless, all his. But truth be told, I didn’t mind sharing my room with my big sister although I’m sure she wasn’t too keen on the idea considering she was in her early teens and I was only 7 when we moved into our house.
I had my side of the room with my twin sized bed and Barbies and stuffed animals. And she had her side of the room with her bed and her posters and her AM/FM stereo/record player that took up the entire top of her dresser. All in all we enjoyed a harmonious division of our space.
We never had to resort to drawing a line of demarcation down the center of the room. Especially since doing so would have been disadvantageous for both of us when one takes into account that her half had the door, a rather valuable commodity considering it would have been difficult for me to enter and exit the room via the window by my bed, and my half had the closet where she hung the majority of her clothes. Quite frankly, I think my side of the room was much more valuable because nothing must ever come between a teenage girl and her clothes.
Nearly half our house was made up of our ‘good-sized’ living room and our open kitchen/family room with its très chic pinewood paneled walls and built-in pinewood bookshelves filled with all sorts of books including what eventually became a complete set of Funk and Wagnells encyclopedias and bonus World Atlas. To this day I can still remember dashing excitedly out to the mailbox when our mailman came down our dirt road in his beat up old Buick hoping that this delivery would have the next encyclopedia in the set or maybe even...gasp...a record from the Columbia Record Club.
No one could beat the ‘Get one at regular price and get 11 for 1 penny’ deal offered on the back page of the Parade Magazine, the colorful Sunday newspaper insert. But waiting 6 to 8 weeks for delivery was tough even though it was worth it to be able to hear the mellow sounds of the Carpenters’ ‘Kind Of Hush’ or Foreigner’s rocking ‘Head Games’ and...be still my beating heart, Duran Duran's 'Rio'...even if my father did insist that we also order things like ‘Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops’ so we could get the special deal.
However most days the mail was filled with bills and advertisements for the local furniture store or the Winn-Dixie super market where you could not only get a six pack of 10-ounce bottles of Pepsi-Cola but you could also return your empties for cash. In our house we were Pepsi purists; Coca-Cola very rarely ever crossed our threshold. Of course every now and again one might find a few bottles of SunDrop hiding in the back of the fridge.
But sadly ever since the advent of plastic packaging you’d be hard pressed to find a store that stocks Pepsi in little glass bottles. Though if I close my eyes I can still remember the quick ‘pfffsst’ sound that was made when my father would open up a bottle releasing the pent up carbonated pressure. And what’s more, if I’m very quiet I can hear the unique clinking sound made by the empty bottles when we would drive to the grocery store to return them.
My humble abode also had 1 ½ baths. Granted ‘1/2’ baths are generally little more than glorified closets with a commode and sink but for some reason having that extra ½ bath can make a small home seem positively palatial. Unfortunately one cannot easily utilize a ½ bath in the pursuit of daily personal hygiene so the 5 of us all had to share our one full bathroom. I imagine the logistics of figuring out who got to use the bathroom in the morning and for how long, especially since 2 of the 5 were teenagers, was a real headache for my parents but somehow we managed. And whenever there was complaining my father was quick to point out that even the people in Hollywood have to suffer through a shortage of lavatories.
After all, the Brady Bunch lived in a massive home that apparently only had 2 bathrooms (both of which were upstairs) even though there were 6 children (who not only shared 1 bathroom but who also had to sleep 3 to a bedroom), 2 parents (who had a spacious bathroom along with their stunning master suite), and Alice, the maid (although no one ever saw where she stayed when she wasn’t over stirring cake batter or consoling lovelorn teens).
What I always thought was interesting about the Brady’s house was that it did not fit them. Which is odd because I seem to recall that Mr. Brady was a pretty good architect (after all his firm sent him, his brood, and his house keeper to Hawaii for 2 episodes) and that he had a grand home office that was larger than most people’s living rooms so why couldn’t he have thrown in a few more bedrooms and couple more bathrooms? For Pete’s sake, he could have at least turned one of the closets downstairs into a powder room.
But I digress...back to my reminiscing (after all one cannot go through life lamenting over a lack of bathrooms). Although maybe my lavatory deficient childhood is one of the reasons why whenever and my husband and I have had to go through the rigmarole of looking for a new house one of my basic requirements has always been multiple bathrooms. I wonder.
We didn’t have air conditioning until many years after we moved in although my parents did have a window unit that ran nonstop during the summer and kept their room comfortable. As for the rest of the house if it was anywhere near warm outside our windows were always open and all that separated us from the rest of the world was our screen door which would squeak no matter how carefully you tried to open it. In the summer when it was the air was thick and it was hotter than Hades in the shade, every single box fan we owned was put in the windows and set to high. And even in the dead of winter, when the cold north wind would twist and turn itself around anything that had the misfortune of being in its way, my father always kept the window above the kitchen sink opened up just a little bit for a breath of fresh air.
Yes, the cozy little house on Belvedere Drive was more than just ‘the house where I lived’ it was home. A home which might have been a bit smaller than the average but it was my castle albeit a small castle but a castle nonetheless. But small isn’t so bad. After all, I’m small and my parents always used to tell me what I lacked in size I made up for in personality.