Monday, April 18, 2011

The Apartment Building That Raised Me

I just read a "View" by Connie Schultz in Parade Magazine, April 17, 2011 in answer to the question,"What's your best memory of your childhood home?"

"The House That Built Me" was the title of her piece, and she started with this lead: "The plan was to drive slowly by the house and keep on going." Talk about a grabber lead--she caught me there!! I no longer have that opportunity to drive slowly or drive at all by the Gary, IN apartment building that I grew up in until I was 18 years old.

After college, I visited home very few times because my life was wrapped up in campus living and off campus living. My life was college. After I graduated in August of '69, I took a teaching job in Ft. Wayne, IN. A year after college, I married. I visited Gary, IN only once after that, but did not return to that apartment building because it was condemned and no one could enter. Later it burned to the ground--nothing to visit now, but maybe I should at least see the neighborhood. It probably would be a very sombering visit, however, due to the ongoing decline of the neighborhood. I saw online, inside pictures of my old Emerson School, K-12, where I attended my whole life, and it was a heartsick sight.

The author of the "View" had a picture of her old house and told of her memories, especially of her dad. She ended by saying, "Back then all I could think about was how scary it would be to leave home." I thought the same thing when I was younger. How could I leave the only home I knew, but yet I wanted to leave. I packed my bags for my new job and left my Gary, IN home forever. I cried the first few miles, feeling mixed emotions such as, "I'm leaving home, but I have to go." I would room with a girl whom I did not know and take on my first teaching job of 7th grade language arts classes! My rite of passage had begun.

The first thing I did after reading this Parade Magazine article was to sketch the apartment building I grew up in for 18 years; it had 10 apartments. I have no pictures of it--regrettable.

In my next few blogs I will describe what it was like to live in an apartment setting as I grew up. I guess, it's my way of making a photo of 517 East 6th Avenue.


  1. It seems something that should be done. You have pictures in your head, and it's the only way that anyone else will be able to see it!

  2. Our past experiences do shape us to be the person we are today. It will be interesting to learn of your life in an apartment, which is very different from my life of living in subdivisions.
    PS: The Pencil is by Allan Alhberg

  3. This post certainly speaks to me and makes me return to memories of my childhood home. It isn't there anymore, but when I stand on my childhood street I can picture the building, the garden, and the children playing there.

  4. As you worked through the piece & the memory, it almost seemed that you talked yourself into examining more about the place. I like the idea of the sketching; as you add in details, perhaps the memories will emerge more fleshed out. I also wonder if the local newspaper or former tenants might have photos?

  5. I like hearing about your past and it does tell something about us. It gives a depth to us! Keep writing about this. I like it! It's a part of you that I didn't know.

  6. Tam,
    You are such a wonderfully reflective person. This is a talent, a skill that I wish more of my students (and colleagues :) would do.


  7. Loved reading this Tam. Your thought process and how you arrived at a direction for continued writing fascinates me--and maybe gives me some direction for thinking through my pen (or keyboard!).

  8. My creative juices are definitely tempted by this topic. I agree with Ruth and appreciate your searching for topics and direction.