By Carol Preisler
Years ago, as my son was contemplating moving out, a friend of ours needed someone to oversee his apartments as a live-in-landlord. The flat was just five minutes away and the opportunity was a given. We had quite a bit of starter furniture for him and he was ready to go. It was time.
My son lived there for quite a few years before announcing it was time to leave. He wanted to move to Buffalo. Being born and raised there myself, I understood. It was my home. I had worked downtown in a law office and took buses everywhere. It was a great place to grow up.
When I asked him why he wanted to move, he said it was because he wanted a neighborhood. He felt isolated on his small street where people did not associate much.
Our previous neighborhood was friendly and I had a best friend across the street. There was always someone around with whom to speak, even if briefly. He felt that loss during the years he lived in his little apartment.
And so he moved into an apartment off Elmwood Avenue. It was huge! He adopted two cats that had histories of their own. One was a kitten he found in the downstairs hall. It belonged to the lower flat tenant who inadvertently let it out. He fell in love and she promised to give it to him once it was old enough.
He procured the second kitty when a new tenant in the same apartment let the cat out while on vacation. He took care of it and returned it to his neighbors, only to find it back on the porch once again. They had abandoned it, but it was not abandoning them.
My son still has both of these critters and loves them dearly. Nothing happens by accident.
Fast forward and it became his time to buy a house. Being unable to establish the neighborhood feel was part of that issue. Loving Allentown, the area his paternal grandparents had always resided in, we started looking.
He loved the porch on his grandparents’ home and the friendliness of the people in that neighborhood. I believe we looked at two places.
Both were very interesting but totally inappropriate. I kiddingly said, “Why not ask your Dad if he will sell you grandma and grandpa’s house?”
He did. And the rest, so to speak, is history. My son is now the fourth generation to live in the home. Many other cousins have lived there intermittently and his Dad has told him many, many stories.
Over time, my in-laws were unable to care for the property and it had become a rental. The running joke is that his Dad wanted to sell it because old homes require a lot of care. The irony is that his Dad is still involved in many of those repairs. Who would know the property better than someone who grew up there?
Wallpaper has come down, ceilings have been replaced, paneling has been removed and little by little the house is being renewed. The two small bedrooms are now one large bedroom. The walls have been painted great shades of burgundy, blue and green. A new chandelier hangs in the dining room, and tables hold colorful Tiffany lamps.
The house has the feel of old and the feel of new, but mostly the old.
I garden there a lot and one neighbor told me I remind him of my mother-in-law. She loved to garden and many of her plantings are still there, especially the huge orange iris in the backyard.
More importantly, what happened for my son is that he now has a neighborhood. Everyone speaks to one another. He has found home.