238 SOUTH MOORE AVENUE by KATHY MAIR
It’s strange to think that an inanimate object can feel like part of your family, but that is the sense that I get when I think back to my childhood and the home in which I spent the majority of my so-called formative years. It wasn’t the first house that I lived in; it isn’t the home that my mother still lives in; it isn’t even the house that I spent my high school years in. Yet, when I conjure up the memories of my youth, some of the best experiences are associated with the home at 238 South Moore Avenue.
One of the oddest things about this house was the address. The neighbor to one side also had a South Moore address, but the neighbor to the other had a Richardson Avenue address, as did the house next to theirs on the corner. All of the houses across the extra wide street were also Richardson. The two streets came together in a “V” several houses up from ours, but our house was the random demarcation point for the end of South Moore Avenue. It never made sense to me.
But there, on South Moore Avenue, sat a split-level white home with brown trim and shutters. The ivy-covered lamppost by the sidewalk was where we twice found abandoned baby rabbits, most of which my sister rescued. The path behind the post took you to three steps in front of a solid wood front door. That simple door would hold countless hours of blooper reels if only a camera had been running. Twice, my sister slipped on her approach and dropped her packages -face-down, of course: a pizza on one occasion and my eighth birthday cake on the other. It was the very door that I slammed shut in Brian Bell’s face when he gave me a candy heart for Valentine’s Day in the fourth grade. If only I knew then the things I know now. And it was on this door that our neighbor once taped a note to my mother on paper shaped like a giant butterfly. Well, my mother is deathly afraid of butterflies, so when we pulled into the driveway and yelled, “Hey, there’s a giant butterfly on the door!” let’s just say it wasn’t a good day for my mom.
Inside that door was our living room with the closet that held countless record albums. Engelbert Humperdinck was the one that always got us laughing. By the doorway to the kitchen was “the green thing,” a solid structure of wood painted very pale green that held some glasses and dishes and a lot of meaningless junk. It wasn’t a china cabinet or anything that elegant. It was a bulky monstrosity that no one in the family could stand.
Through the kitchen, by the stove, were six steps that led you to the rec room. For several years, the rec room was a small area with bright orange and yellow shag carpeting. We all gathered there to watch television each night. When I was about five, I spent almost an entire year watching TV from under the coffee table. I was going through a completely unfounded phase where I thought I was different than the rest of my family because I was adopted. On the back wall of the room was a large alcove with doors that housed all of our board games, Lego’s, Play-Doh sets and other toys. I would sit in there for hours and organize them all! In later years, after my mother took a trip to Virginia, we also housed a “souvenir” smoked and salted ham up there. It became a family joke that lasts to this day. When I was in middle school, we knocked out the wall that separated the rec room from the garage and made it into a much bigger family room.
Back through the kitchen and into the living room, there were six more steps leading upstairs. My brother’s bedroom was first on the right. Once he hit middle school, that room with the knock-off Star Wars wallpaper was dominated by an immense drum set. You could hear him playing those things a good quarter-mile away.
Next to his room was the bedroom I shared with my sister. Although it went through several makeovers, the one that sticks with me came after my mother finally allowed us to choose the paint color for the walls – one of the few major mistakes she made as a parent. Four walls of lavender, accented by hot pink curtains, holdovers from the previous design. Probably the best piece of decorating we did, though, was gluing the Adam Ant and Police posters to the walls because the thumbtacks wouldn’t go through. We paid for that stroke of genius when we moved.
Across the hall from our room was my parents’ bedroom, with the closet that held the Christmas gifts each year. Oh, the temptation.
Off that same hallway were the stairs – and, yes, there were six of them – leading to the tiny attic. With an angled ceiling, no one taller than a five-year old could have stood up straight; but even as a five-year old, I would hunker down for fear of the exposed nails coming through the roof. Despite that, and despite the fact that only a small pathway from the stairs to the other side was actually floored over the insulation, we managed to store quite a bit up there. Next to all of our Christmas decorations, luggage, old furniture and clothes were often found the Barbie dolls that my sister and I neglected to put away.
Despite all of those things (and a great backyard), there was nothing “special” about this house – I realize that. No hidden rooms or secret passages – just good memories that wouldn’t be as good if they had occurred anywhere else.
– Kathy Mair