Our Own Home
Every year we had a lot of medical bills - most of the children had asthma really bad and we went through a large/type humidifier every year, plus a lot of prescriptions and doctor bills. Our medical insurance didn't pay for either one of them. We were about $1,000 in the hole each year, and when it came to tax refund time, we got about that much back - so, we always broke even - but never could save anything.
About this time we figured we had better try to get a house of our own. We knew if we were ever going to get our own place, it would have to be a miracle. We began praying for a miracle and God was faithful to us. We found out that Joe could get a G.I. no down payment loan because he had been in military. Then we began looking for a house that they would okay; it had to be inspected for termites, etc. by the government. We had to have a house without hot air heat, because Rose and Mary both had asthma and we needed something as dust-free as possible.
We found a rundown house, on a side street, just over the hill from the center of Leominster, close to the Leominster Hospital. It needed paint inside and out. We didn't have anything extra, so knew we would have to live with it that way for a few years; we couldn't afford the paint. The owners came down on their price and the government okayed it; we moved in when Peter was 17 days old. We paid $10,800. There was the house, attached two-story barn (carriage house), and attached chicken coop - also 7/8ths of an acre of land.
We had bought a gas and gas kitchen stove back when we lived on Pleasant Street, that was used to cook with and it also heated the apartments we lived in. Now, we had a big house and didn't need the heating part of the stove. It was still a very good looking stove, so we had it in the kitchen.
One of my girlfriend's parents sold us a dining room set for $25 - they were always very good to us. It had a china cabinet, buffet, table and six Windsor chairs.
My Mom had just bought a new washer and dryer set, and gave us her other set. It was a real treat to wash things automatically - the day of the wringer washer and rinsing in the bathtub were over - also hanging things to dry and hoping they would...
We had a mud room with back door entrance; it went into the kitchen, then into bathroom off the kitchen, then dining room, den with fireplace that didn't work. (It had rusted shut.)
In the front of the house was the living room and a hallway that had stairs going upstairs, to 3 bedrooms. In the bathroom (the one and only bathroom), there was a skylight over the tub, as that was the only light. There was a window, but it only looked into the barn. The barn was a carriage barn with an upstairs and a chicken coop off of it. Under the barn there was storage - a lot of the fancy "gingerbread" trim that had fallen off the house in by-gone days.
The back yard had a little grass that was never cut, and a jungle of woods and poison ivy vines across the end of it. There were a lot of very old and very tall trees - in front of them was a peach tree that had nice blossoms on it, but the fruit was dwarfed and deformed, so we cut it down.
We had a crab apple tree right in the middle of the far/backyard. It was the first crab apple tree I had ever seen. I got out my cookbook and found a recipe for crabapple jelly. I did everything it said, and the jelly was beautiful, a nice pink color and very tasty. From then on, the children got to the apples before they even matured, so that was the end of jelly-making.
There was a real jungle out in the back yard; so much that we couldn't see our backyard neighbors at all. Joe began to pull down the vines, pull up the weeds. He found that there was a lot of poison ivy growing in throughout this "jungle". He had read that its dangerous to burn it, as the smoke can be inhaled and people can get the poison ivy inside their bodies. So, he began to pull it up, to cart it away later. It took many weeks to get all of it. (He had tried something that was sprayed on; it died, and then it all came back even stronger than before.)
Our house faced North; it had three huge maple trees in the front yard that gave off so much shade that no grass would grow - we tried planting some a few times. There were yew bushes along the driveway side of the house, they had the poisonous, red berries on them. The driveway was dirt - we had blacktop put there, many years later.
To the East of us, was a very new and expensive house. They had planted trees all around their house; had a sprinkler system and during the war-scare years, they had built a bomb shelter in their basement.
To the West of us was a house almost as old as our house. Our neighbor's house had the original shutters on it and a slate roof - was very well kept up. A very old couple lived there, Mr. & Mrs. George Emmerling. They had come to the States before the war in Europe. She was very heavy and had a bad heart; could only sit on the porch under the grapevine he had planted years earlier, for shade. He was very active in the yard, always had a garden and also flowers everywhere.
Mrs. Emmerling held Peter a couple of times, while she sat there on the porch - loved babies. Their son and daughter were both married; the son was a High School principal in Connecticut and smoked a pipe. The daughter was newly married to an antique dealer, lived on Long Island. She was working in a lab, with genetics. Mrs. Emmerling died and George Emmerling went to her grave all the time - had it covered with flowering plants and bushes.
We got Mr. Emmerling to feed our tropical fish when we went on the one vacation we ever had (the summer after Matthew was born and died) - the dear old soul couldn't see too well (used to be an engraver), and he really filled up that aquarium with food. I wasn't a fancy cook, but had him over a few times for a meal - once I wanted to really please him, so I baked a boxed cake they had just come out with, "German Chocolate". I asked him if that's the kind he had back in Germany, and he said (in his broken English), "No."
When we first moved into the house, we went on a "treasure hunt", and found all sorts of things in the barn, in the eves of the barn, under the barn, etc. We found a very old photograph that showed, perhaps, someone who had lived in the house. They looked like they were American Indian, or perhaps Spanish. We found many old fashioned light bulbs, a very long and pointy/sharp hat pin (that women used to stick in their hats, to fend off the "mashers", if anyone bothered them). We found many, many clay marbles scattered around the back yard - the kind that children used to play with so many years before the glass marbles. We found a large flatiron and the trivet that it sat on; we also found a small, toy flatiron. I still have the large flatiron and trivet.
We found many Indian Head pennies scattered around the yard, also; these were added to a coin collection that Joe had started. We left some of these things in the house, along with a sheet of paper stating everything we had learned about the house - who had built it, lived in it, etc., when we moved to Canada.
When we were in the house a few years, Joe decided to check into the history of the house. He looked up information in the Deeds Office in Fitchburg, MA. It showed who had bought the land, built on it and then everybody, through the years, who had bought the house. He found out the builder (in 1892) was no longer living, but his daughter was in a local nursing home. Joe went to see her and her mind was still very sharp; she told him that her Dad had built about 4 of the houses in the neighborhood, they had lived in our house, originally.
Joe found out that one of the owners had disappeared and we had a standing story in our family, that he was buried down in the basement where it wasn't cemented (in the area under the added-on den).
We had bought the house from Paul Brassard, who cooked in the house and also on a stove in the barn; he catered to different plastics shops in our town; coffee, donuts, sandwiches. He made a good living doing that, his wife helped him.
Brassards had bought the house from Parkers, and this Mrs. Parker was the old nurse when I was in 2nd grade, who always checked the kids for head lice (bugs). And, their daughter was also a nurse - I had run into her when I was having one of the babies; she name was Mrs. Pillsbury. She had a son named Parker Pillsbury, who went to school with my sister. Mrs. Pillsbury and son lived in the house with her parents, the Parkers - so, all of them lived in the house that we had bought. Such a small world...even in the small town of Leominster (30,000 population at the time).
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Pen Name: Aimee Love
Our first home - 27 Myrtle Street, Leominster MA 01453
Moved in when Peter was 17 days old (October 19, 1962.)
No downpayment - GI Bill of Rights!