The House at Pooh Corner

November 19, 2010 – My parents told me recently that they plan to move in the spring. The house is too large for them now, the neighborhood is changing, and it’s the right thing to do. Still, I’m sad when I think “we” won’t live there anymore.

We moved into the house when I was a few weeks old so it’s the only childhood home I’ve known. The street was populated by families with lots of children, there was always someone to play with, and many of the neighbors were second families to me.

The environment was Norman Rockwell like, but with alcohol because the grownups liked to party. We had wiffle ball games in the street on Sundays where the adults played and the children cheered from lawn chairs that lined the pavement, and block parties every Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day. Not to mention the water balloon fights and the Big Wheel races that my brother always seemed to win.

The family across the street had tracks in their yard with a miniature train that could transport about five or six kids at a time and it was a treat to be invited for a ride. And there was one incredibly hot summer when I remember many of the neighbors in our pool floating on large blocks of ice while listening to Frank Sinatra.

Every Tuesday night back then I would babysit my younger sister and brother, and it would always end with the three of us in a corner smacking each other with kitchen towels, kicking and screaming. I can’t remember why we fought, but it did.

I shared the middle bedroom with my younger sister. We swore it was haunted because sometimes our beds would shake and feel like they were rising off the box spring. I’m not exaggerating … and to this day I still can’t think of a reasonable explanation.

The parties hosted in the house through the years were incredible. My parents threw some epic events, and so did the four of us kids every time they went away. As a teenager, coming in late on a Saturday night, it wasn’t uncommon to be met at the door by my parents and other neighbors in a train line whistling and laughing as they made their way outside and down the street.

The house is over 100 years old now, with a high wrought iron railing surrounding the porch that was great for climbing. One spring day comes to mind when my sister and I were hanging off of it like a couple of monkeys (we were both teenagers at the time) and my mother was running up and down the porch steps (exercising). People in passing cars probably thought we were crazy, but the neighbors were used to us.

Although they may have thought differently the day my older sister left her son behind in an infant seat and ran like a banshee from the front porch down the street, just to avoid a few swarming bees while screaming, “Save my baby!”

I also spent many summer nights on that porch with my father listening to Phillies games  on the radio and swatting the mosquitoes away. I think it’s the place I’ll miss most.

Life in the McMaster house certainly wasn’t dull. I know I’ll always have those memories and I’ll try to take comfort in the closing line of The House at Pooh Corner:

“ Wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the forest, a little boy and his bear will always be playing.”

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6 thoughts on “The House at Pooh Corner

  1. In my defense, the bees were after me, not my baby! I wanted Mom to watch him while I ran away screaming and flailing. Yes, “Save My Baby” has certainly stuck through the years! Pretty funny. Still don’t like bees!

    Great memories!

  2. Your front porch is special, I will forever cherish the memory of your Dad asking Patti and I, ” What are you two simple asses doing out here?” It’s a classic!

  3. Thanks for sharing those memories. After much convincing from my siblings and I, my parents are on the list to move as well. Soon the Old Guard families of that street will be no more.

    I experience nothing but utter frustration each time I visit the folks. It hurts to see the old neighborhood falling to the urban blight which has robbed our fair city of so many great neighborhoods. That neighborhood nurtured us and provided a safe and convenient environment for us to play and grow. But such is the way of things and I will feel better knowing that our parents are safely removed from its final collapse.

    I doubt many of us would trade our childhoods there for anything. Great neighbors and life long friends, what more could you ask for?

    • Pete, it was a great place to grow up. But I’m glad your parents are going, too. I know it will be a big change for them, and I hope the Campbells, Fells and McMasters stay close forever.

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