How far back into your childhood can you remember something from? Real memories, not just recreations of stories you have heard from others. It’s tricky to know for sure, isn’t it?
As I mentioned in my first episode of “House Hunting”, I’m not moving. Not if I can help it. Packing is tedious and overwhelming and unpacking is even worse. However, earlier this summer I found myself on another house-hunting mission. This time it was to reconnect with memories from my father’s side of my family.
My cousin, who might as well be my sister, and I went on a “Moms Gone AWOL” trip to the coast. We hadn’t taken a trip together in a while and we were itching to get away. We settled on Morro Bay, a lovely, quiet town on California’s central coast. It just so happens that another little town of family significance is on the way, Atascadero.
Both of my paternal grandparents were from Atascadero. My great-grandmother brought my grandmother there when she was a young child, not long after she was widowed by the mine explosion that occurred in Dawson, New Mexico, in October of 1913. My other great-grandparents brought my grandfather and his siblings from the Great Lakes area, and wound up living just up the street. Ironically, my grandparents didn’t really get to know each other until they were older even though they grew up so close by.
My cousin and I decided we wanted to try to find one of the houses that my great-grandmother had lived in while she was still in Atascadero. This was the only house either of us had ever been to and had any memories of. Both of us would have been really young, as our great-grandma had moved when we were little kids. But we each had similar memories of the house and of a little trick our great-grandma played on us. She told us that she had a cat named Mrs. Smith, and if we were very quiet we would be able to sneak up on Mrs. Smith when she was hiding behind a chair in the family room. Alas, the moment we got close, our great-grandma would exclaim that we had scared Mrs. Smith and that she had run away! We realized much later in life that Mrs. Smith didn’t exist, but it has become a fun memory of our rather spunky great-grandma.
My father was able to scrounge up addresses for the first house my great-grandmother and grandmother had lived in along with the house my grandfather grew up in. My cousin and I had never been to either one of them, but as it turns out there were pictures that had been taken decades earlier that had become part of our collective memories and it was neat to see these places that had been occupied by our ancestors going back almost a century ago.
Unfortunately, my cousin and I weren’t able to get an address for the house we remembered visiting until after we returned home. My dad was able to find some old pictures and from there we were able to piece together the location. A quick “drive by” on Google maps showed us that not much had changed over all these years other than the color of paint and the sizes of trees. Still, it would have been neat to see it in person. Perhaps another trip will be in order?