Archive for March, 2010

My Mother’s House, RIP

This is my Mother’s house.  The one she grew up in, the one she shared with her brother and sisters, the one her parents lived in for 50 years.

As of today, it’s not theirs any more.

Mom has been gone from that place for 45 years, and her parents essentially died there a few years back, but her brother was still there, and more importantly, the soul of the home was there – Grandpa’s records.

Yesterday, we took them out.

Our estimation is that there were over 10,000 records – that is vinyl and shellac, people – in the house in all sorts of places, though the overwhelming majority were in the custom record shelves constructed just inside the front door.  Almost all of them were in pristine condition, played maybe once, definitely not more than a few times.  No one could possibly listen to them all, not in a lifetime.

We tracked across all sorts of gems while we (my brother, father and me) were boxing them all up.  We found the recording of Peter and the Wolf (A side) and Carnival of the Animals (B side) that I remember listening to in that very house as young boy.  We found the complete Beethoven’s symphonies recording, identical to the one that started me loving classical music myself.  We found Bongos from the South’s version of My Old Kentucky Home (look, it’s not all classics, folks).  We found a recording of Enrico Caruso, the first recording he ever made, from 1903, and then we found the last recording he ever made (can’t wait to hear those).  And we found a Benny Goodman 4-record collection – signed by Goodman himself.

All this stuff weighed close to two tons.  It was never meant to be moved.  As long as it was there, the house still belonged to my Mother’s family, even though the glass wall around the fireplace was gone, the teardrop-shaped planter peninsula that jutted out from the living-room wall was gone, the apricot tree in the backyard (still the best apricots the world has ever known) was gone, the marble game in the downstairs cupboard, the long rug in the hallway in the basement, the innumerable jars of peaches, the trinkets in the kitchen drawers, all gone, and yet when I close my eyes I can see them still.  I know those things better than I know any of the nooks and crannies of any house I lived in save one.

The bathroom is still there in pink, the same as it ever was.  And there are still rosebushes outside, likely the same ones my father and I used to catch nightcrawlers under, the night before we all went fishing.  But the people are gone, and now the records are gone.  That was what that house was for.  It’s not our house any more.

But tonight, my Grandpa and I are going to get back together, with Enrico Caruso and friends, for a little reunion.

Adieu, Dallin Street, my port in many a storm.  Fare thee well.  Thou shalt not hear Herald any more.