House Hunting, Part II

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?

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The “Administration Building” in Atascadero.  It would have been completed around the time both of my grandparents came to the tiny town.

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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.

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I wonder how many times my grandparents passed by this building only a short distance from where they each lived.

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.

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My family has learned that trouble may be on the horizon when my cousin and I are together!

Both of my paternal grandparents were from Atascadero.  My great-grandmother brought my grandmother here 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.

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My great-grandmother worked in D.C. for the War Dept. during WWI after her husband died in the mine accident.  She returned to Dawson and moved with my grandmother to Atascadero shortly after.

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.

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This picture was taken at the doorstep of the house my cousin and I drove by on our trip.  L to R: my paternal grandmother, my aunt, my great-grandmother, and my great-great-grandmother.  We call this picture “Four Generations”.

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.

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My grandfather’s parents, sitting on the porch of the house up the hill from the house where the “Four Generations” picture was taken.  I wonder how much the car in the garage in the background would be worth today?

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?

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The house “Mrs. Smith” lived in.  I have a door at my own house just like this one.  Now I know why I like that door so much.

 

7 thoughts on “House Hunting, Part II

  1. Since I live in the same region than my ancestors are from, I see familiar places somewhat commonly. Because the Santa Clara Valley developed the way it did, not much of the familiar remain. My parents first home was replaced with a monster home. My maternal grandparent’s home is now a pink palace. My paternal great grandparents home was remodeled into a sleek modern bungalow, but supposedly really came out nice. Some things, I like to see. I avoid others.

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    • My grandparents lived in town when I was a kid. I lived in their house for about a year after my grandma moved away. After that the house was sold and it just got trashed inside and out. Their lovely roses, camelias, trees, all gone. Makes me so sad.

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