Scrolling through Twitter, I discovered an account by a Canadian guy who lives in Japan. He’s celebrating turning 50 by going through boxes of his possessions that have just arrived by boat & posting the contents online… an interesting way to look back before reaching a milestone. I’ll turn 50 this year as well! The exciting combo of lockdown + unemployment gave me time to organize all my photos by year. Task complete, so I thought of this series: a look back at all the places I’ve lived. This will take several posts because I’ve moved around a lot, but feel free to come along…
Too young to remember anything about this house at 6101 Park Street, I love how happy my mom looks just a few days before I was born in 1970. Our cat, Chippers, seems focused only on me… which makes sense. My mom told me how she watched over my crib & ran to get her if I started fussing. How could I not love cats after such attention? Listed on my birth certificate, I’m surprised to see this open-plan home still around. I bet all the faux-wood paneling is gone now… or maybe not.
Des Moines, Iowa
Here’s where the story becomes unclear. No one is alive to ask, so this is what I’ve pieced together from memories & documents left behind. My mom & dad had been married for nine years when they had me. Was I an attempt to save their marriage? Perhaps. My dad could never hold a steady job (a polite way to put it), & I can tell from their tax returns + correspondence that they had financial difficulties. I also know that their relationship suffered as well.
Whatever the reason, my mom took me in 1971 to live with her parents in Iowa. I believe I have interior photos of my grandparents’ former house on 3501 SW 12th Place (above), but I’m not sure. Nothing is labelled. My grandfather was about to retire, so they looked to move back to southern Iowa soon. I’m 95% certain I spent time in this house, but I don’t know the exact dates or even the circumstances. The Super8 movie below shows a family picnic in the backyard before I came along, sometime in the 1960s. My great-grandmother is there, along with my grandparents, my dad, my mom & my aunt… cheesy music added much later by whoever transferred this to video.
In a letter, my dad tells my mom he’s landed a job at the greyhound race track in St. Petersburg. From what I can put together, the original plan was to move to Sarasota but we ended up at 5320 Pine Street D in Seffner (an eastern suburb of Tampa). All my father’s family lived along the Atlantic coast of Florida —from Jacksonville down to West Palm Beach— so this must have been a big change for him. Seems like a nice neighborhood from the photos. Not sure why I was nude on an Inchworm for Christmas 1972, but there you go. Most interior pics show the same air conditioning unit, curtains & tv… not much variety:
All the even-numbered houses on this block have been torn down to make way for a strip mall, including a Dunkin’ Donuts. Oh joy. 1352 Navco Road may no longer exist, but at least I have an exterior photo (with me!) of the house that once was. I have no idea why we moved from Florida to Alabama in 1974, but I recall a fig tree in the back yard. Probably my earliest memory. Also, cameras only came out for vacations, birthdays or Christmas back then, so I’m lucky to have interior photos from my 4th birthday party… even if I have no clue who any of those other kids are. Adore that clock on the kitchen wall & the piece of furniture in the corner; they’d look fantastic in my apartment now if they’d survived.
This post took more detective work than expected, & I still don’t understand it all. To be clear, my parents never owned any of these homes; they always rented. After reading more letters, whatever job my father had in Mobile didn’t last long, & my mom’s wedding ring wound up in a Jacksonville pawn shop. Mom & I went back to Iowa with my dad along for the ride. At some point, my father went on another job hunt odyssey: Columbia, Kansas City, Denver, Phoenix, Houston, back to Alabama, & then on to Florida to crash at his mother’s apartment. So bizarre. But 1975 means next stop, Memphis!
Places lived series: Florida/Iowa/Alabama 1970-75 ● Memphis 1975-88 ● On campus 1988-94 ● Seattle 1994-98 ● Cádiz 1998-99 ● Memphis/Seattle 1999-2000 ● Buenos Aires 2000-08 ● Sydney 2008-09 ● Buenos Aires 2009-13 ● Esquel 2013-14 ● Seattle yet again 2015-16 ● Sevilla 2016-present ● El Pedroso 2021-present
I am interested in this story and research. As you say not so many photos back then. All film and developing costs. Trying to get ones early life can be a huge job. No one talked of my family when I was young as opposed to my husband. He can natter about his family back a few hundred years ago arriving in Canada.
And eeek I am old enough to be your Mum.
Hi Brenda! I completely understand… my family never let me know much about my early years, perhaps because they were ashamed or had just moved on & didn’t want to discuss it ever again. I’m fortunate to have a lot of correspondence & some photos to piece together some of the story. My ancestors came to the US from northern England in the 1860s, just after the Civil War. I know more about them than my immediate family! But I’m determined to find out more.
The RS tours move much too fast for us – we’re in our mid-80s.
The RS website is busy putting together company tours right now and not available to recommend independent guides.
Could you recommend guides for Malaga and Valencia – not area’s covered by RS books?
Please & thank you
Hello Diane – Thanks for the message. Unfortunately those are two areas of Spain that I don’t know very well… I’ve only been to Málaga once & that was with family, so they showed me around. And I haven’t been back to Valencia since 2016 or so. I’m sorry I can’t help! There must be an online source for finding guides in those areas. Enjoy your trip!