Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Dec 07 2022

The New 213 Biscayne

From Google Streetview I gleaned that the house where I spent most of my formative years, a two-story house built in 1960 in El Lago, Texas, has been extensively remodeled, most likely due to flooding damage as the area is pretty much at sea level and sinking. I realize I’ve written about it before, but I recently found a tour of the inside of the old house on a realty site, and hoo boy did they do a number on it.

Outside, the old cracked driveway where our 1969 Buick Electra and 1972 Pinto were parked is now newly laid white concrete. All the tudor-esque 1960’s windows have been replaced with more storm-resistant but rather boring frames. Most of the old trees in front are gone, and many of the backyard ones as well. A patch of bare grass is the only sign of the old shed and pear tree that used to stand there. The concrete semicircle that was once our vegetable garden is now full of trees; one of the photos is taken from where my old fort was located, a place where many delicious afternoons were spent reading and snacking on peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches after school. The house is now painted blue, as it has been since not long after we moved away in 1981; no doubt the new owners didn’t appreciate me writing things like “Please take care of Grey Kitty” on the sides of the house, nor the mustard yellow color we painted it (believe it not, that was an improvement on the original dark brown, complete with orange front door, resulting in a very Halloween-esque vibe). Grey Kitty was a local cat who made her home with us when we lived there, and I was quite fond of her. My parents decided she wouldn’t be coming with us to Florida, but the elderly couple who bought the house from us assured us they would take care of her, and as far as I know they did. But I was a sentimental child and wanted to make sure.

Inside, as is seemingly mandatory with houses these days, any potentially offensive colors have been removed, and a few walls have been knocked down for that “open” look that is currently all the rage. Flying in the face of fengshui, the front door is now visible from the back of the house through an opening where the coat closet used to be, and the stairs, which once turned 90 degrees into the kitchen where a coffee bar is now located, now lead right into the back door, which is bad news for anyone pummeling down the stairs in the morning. The dining room, with its romanesque murals and fancy silverware, where so many people looked up at me towards the end of Christmas dinner to exclaim, “Oh that’s right, today’s your birthday, isn’t it?” is gone, turned into a home office and laundry room, which is reasonable as we mostly ate by the kitchen in what is now the “dining area” anyway. The puke-green carpet of the living room is now wood floor, no doubt an improvement visibly but much worse to sit on when opening Christmas presents, and a door to the garage has been added, which makes sense as we always had to go outside to get to the garage. All that remains besides the basic floor plan is the brick fireplace in the corner of the family room, where I used to play with my Matchbox cars, and the place where our huge Zenith TV stood how boasts a large flat screen that takes up not only that space but the space where our desk full of old National Geographic magazines and board games stood.

Upstairs, my room (formerly my sister’s room before she left for college) looks basically the same, though it’s grey now instead of bright blue. I don’t recall if the doors were cut to fit the ceiling’s crop; I wasn’t tall enough to notice then. I suspect the back of my old closet still has a secret entrance to the space over the garage. I’m a bit surprised no one has put an extra room in there. My brother’s room is also largely the same, except of course grey. There is one photo taken from my room with the door open and looking down the hall to my brother’s room, and I recall that view and listening to whatever he was playing on his stereo, which could have been anything from classical music to the latest rock. When he was practicing the flute, or I was practicing the trumpet, however, the doors would of course be closed.

It was kind of a shock to see that most everything had been cleared from the house, no reminders of the place that it once was, but then again, if it remained in the 1970’s it would be more of a museum piece than a place anyone would want to live in the 2020’s. The world is so different today! I understand why the old round-ended kitchen bar with the ceramic cookie jar that was filled with treats is gone, why the fake brick linoleum has been removed, as well as the thick rope rug where I used lay watching the Muppet Show, MASH and WKRP in the evenings and cartoons on Saturday mornings. I know why the shed is gone, that little corner of shady horror full of rusting metal lawn instruments ready to inflict tetanus on any unsuspecting intruder. I can see why the mullioned bathroom window of my parent’s bathroom is now a featureless glass square. I understand all of this; it makes all the sense in the world. But I am a sentimental man and kind of wish it wasn’t all gone.

posted by Poagao at 7:52 pm