People move more these days than they did when I was growing up—into different houses, across the country, over oceans. But in the 1950s, my family had their first house in the town of Galesburg, Illinois. 692 North Kellogg Street. We stayed in that house until I was in college. It no longer exists because it was razed in the mid-1960s to build a hospital parking lot. But in my mind, I can still see every nook and cranny, every pattern on the wallpaper, the living room drapes, the layout of the rooms, the office my dad added on for his tax business, and the backyard where I used to play with neighborhood friends. I can even visualize the cherry tree in that back yard, although none of this exists anymore. It’s only in my mind.
When we lived there in the late 1960s, our apartment took up the entire first floor. To give you an idea of size, ten feet longer north to south and it would have been the length of a bowling alley lane. It had gorgeous wooden pocket doors that opened into the front foyer, an entrance with stained glass windows where people probably left calling cards in the 19th century. Black gas fixtures were still in the walls from the date when they changed from candles to gas lighting. Four other apartments were above us on the second and third floors. Imagine a family with six children, like the Allens, living in this vast house built as a family home. Although it didn’t have a carriage house on the north side, I added one to my book just for fun.