Monday, May 2, 2011

The Apartment Building That Raised Me--Part 3

Remember, we're on a youthful and unsophisticated tour of the best memories of my ten apartment childhood home on the banks of the southern most tip of Lake Michigan, of course, with the Gary Steel Mills between me and the beach! The closest accessible beach is ten miles away and called Miller Beach, a place to hang out like the corner drug store, or so it seemed.

Since the eastside of my brick building had a wooden porch, glider, and steps with access to the best alley playground ever with its dramatic rain flow to one of the city's sewers, many hours were played out during sunny or stormy days.

The front side of 517 East 6th Avenue definitely had its own glamour, and the west side presented itself as a place to play pretend and more games. I want to leave the backyard last as this was the best and largest playground ever!!

When you walked down the 6th Avenue sidewalk, coming from my school (2 blocks away), you noticed as you approached the red brick building, the east side porch, of course, and the three floors of windows. The building had two stories but also had a basement and three basement flats. These basement windows always had blinds or curtains, so people on the outside couldn't look down into the apartments--never liked this floor of apartments except for one thing. My grandmother or as we called her "Baba" lived there later with my Uncle Walter. It was below ground, lower than the world, dark, and gloomy. More on the basement later.

As you walked past the first set of windows, you could see the front door to the building. This was home. It was a heavy brown door with a large window at the top and small windows on either side. There were also paned windows above the door. The door opened heavily and closed itself with ease. On the right were steps going to the first floor and on the left were steps going down to the basement. Since both sets of steps were curved, I remember falling down and up them frequently.

Before you chose which stairs to take, a set of 10 golden-like mail boxes all in one row were right in front of you. The apartment numbers were on the front with the last names of tenants inside when the postman opened all of them at once. One had to have a key in order to get the mail. If you looked above the boxes, you would see a short runway of a hall with a wooden bannister and two apartments on either side. I rather liked the looks of the entrance--plenty of light, open, and 10 friendly mailboxes where birthday cards, Christmas cards, and letters arrived--a highlight to everyone's day!

Out the door again and on to the west side of the building, we had bushes instead of a fence surrounding this side of the yard. I remember having to trim them when I was older and keeping them even. I also had other jobs to do around the apartment building because my Auntie Mary owned it, and my family lived in it.

On this side was an enclosed porch on the first floor the second with a large set of 7-8 (?) concrete steps with concrete bannisters leading down and out of the building. The steps were where the game Captain May I was played over and over. It was also the best place to take group pictures for birthday parties or to just sit on especially on the bannisters. The enclosed porch housed a pretend store and newspaper office. One summer, we held play weddings because some how we gathered fancy and formal clothing.

We also waited for the Dixie Dairy Man there who gave us pieces of ice out of his truck and then delivered the gallons of milk to our apartment doors. We also watched for the ice cream man and bought banana popsicles! There was an egg man who also delivered "fresh" eggs in a basket to whomever, but who bought them, we don't know. The sidewalk in front of the west side was where one could be pretty much alone, playing under the trees or walking down the block.

Those are the good thoughts/memories of the front and west side of the brick apartment that raised me. Thanks for being with me as I try to picture my home as I remember it.


  1. I again loved all the details, like the way the front door opened and the pretend games on the enclosed porch. You are showing such good memories that I imagine quite a happy, playful childhood. All that play outdoors and watching for the ice cream man, etc. brings back my own times in my little town.

  2. I like how specific you are in your memories. Makes me reach into the deep corners of my mind. They aren't as clear as yours. Nice memories!

  3. What a wonderful, detailed description of home.

  4. Thanks for taking me on the ride down memory lane. I think I lived next door to you==at least it seemed that way as I read what you wrote/

  5. I'm thrilled that you have such a vivid memory of your childhood home. Thanks for sharing glimpses of moments in your home. I imagined myself peeking through the windows. MaryHelen

  6. Thanks for sharing, it helps me get to know you better through these glimpses of your memories of your home. Happy slicing! :)

  7. I can just imagine you sitting either staring off into space or even closing your eyes to check details. It's amazing that you have carried this detailed stuff of your childhood surroundings for so long. Keep it coming!