Finding the Old Home Place with Zillow – 52 Ancestors #394

Would you like to visit the home where your parents or grandparents lived? Maybe great-grandparents? Does their home still stand? Did someone within the family inherit it? How about visiting the homes of aunts and uncles that you visited as a child?

What about the home you grew up in?

How would you feel walking through that house again?

I had never really thought about this before, but I got to find out this week.

One of my former classmates tagged me on social media.

I clicked, and there it was.

The house where I was raised.

I drew a sharp breath.

Was I ready for this?

Could I look?

How could I NOT look?

It was posted in a Facebook group called “Cheap Old Houses,” which made me kind of nervous. I was hoping it wasn’t a disaster inside.

Opportunity awaits to restore this charming 3BR/2BA home back to its original charm and character! Located in the Old Silk Stocking district, this all brick, 2 story features original hardwood flooring, crown molding, and two wood-burning fireplaces. With over 1500 sq ft of living space, home also includes an unfinished basement and upper 3rd level to be used as an office, playroom or whatever you choose!

“Opportunity awaits to restore…” I wonder what that means, exactly.

Take a deep breath. Should I or shouldn’t I?

Well, of course I looked. I couldn’t help myself.

I wondered when this house was last sold.

In August of 2001, it sold for $53,600. According to Zillow, it had dropped in value to $38,400 in October of 2016, and reached a high of $125,200 in June of 2021. The estimated payment is $380 per month including insurance. I’ve had larger car payments.

Each of the two floors has 778 square feet, which seems quite small today, but seemed just normal then.

Before and I do a walkthrough, I’ll set the stage a bit.

Let’s just say I went down a rabbit hole. A really, really deep rabbit hole. And wow – the surprises awaiting.

Have you ever done the genealogy of a house?

There’s a first time for everything.


This house was built in 1925 and described as a gable front/Colonial Revival according to the Howard County History site.

“Brand-Way House” c. 1915 Alberta Brand, who was a recent widow, purchased a small strip of land on the west side of the Haskett-Jay house, where she built this small brick house for herself. It is said the sale of this lot caused quite a rift between the Jays and the family of Dr. Lamar Knepple, who lived at 524 West Sycamore Street. Similar to other Colonial Revival style homes in the Old Silk Stocking neighborhood, this home features a massive brick chimney flanked with two quarter-circle openings, six-over-six windows, and flat brick lintels. The front gabled, projected entrance with segmental arch is unique in this neighborhood. Notice the rounded hood over the side entrance. (Colonial Revival: This style became popular in the late nineteenth century. Buildings of this type have strictly symmetrical facades and are usually rectangular in plan with no or minimum projections. Eaves have classical detailing, and windows are usually doublehung sash.)

I had always wondered if this house was the carriage house for the large, opulent home to its right, especially given the shared driveway. It was not.

Someone on the posting said, “I thought it was a church.” Now that made me laugh right out loud.

I don’t know when the photo above was taken, but those trellises were present when we lived there in the 1960s and early 1970s. The bush in the front corner of the house beside the driveway is a pink peony bush that I planted for Mom, possibly for Mother’s Day. Its matching companion bush is at the rear corner beside the driveway. When we lived there, I had given her rose bushes that bloomed beautifully along the side of the house, between the peony bushes and the side door and the driveway.

Also filling in that space were Lily’s of the Valley.

Blue Morning Glories climbed the two front trellises.

Before I move on to the history of 530 and 530 1/2 W. Sycamore, I’d like to add some additional photos with a bit of context.

This photo was taken with a traditional camera and was scanned into my system in 2008. I don’t know exactly when it was taken. The old maple tree in the front yard was still there at the time. And so was a second large tree whose shadow you can see near the front of the driveway. That occurred sometime after Mom sold it in 1972 and may have been in the early 2000s.

Gone was “my” tree stump in front of the house, just about where that small bush like thing is to the left of the driveway. I loved that tree stump. It was maybe 2 feet wide and was growing “shooters” from the roots. They were large though, 3 or 4 inches through. One side of the stump had no shooters and was open. That meant that I could sit on the stump and had a built-in back rest of leafy shooters. I sat for hours in my little playhouse in the front yard and read books, wonderful library books. Books were my first passport to the wider world. Sometimes I took my stuffed animals outside with me and read to them, but it took me longer to read out loud, so often they just got to sit with me.

I remember the summer when I was 10 years old looking across the street and realizing I couldn’t read the street sign very well. I got glasses before school started in the fall.

My corner of the world, meaning my bedroom, was the front corner of the upper level that’s most visible. I had two windows, one on the front and one on the side. Inside, there was a dividing wall between that front window and the fireplace which was in our living room. More about that in a minute.

The balcony railing in front of the middle side window was a “faux railing” meaning it was not accessible and you couldn’t get out there. I know because I tried. That small window was in my closet, which was also the access to the attic.

Looking at the house from across the street, one can understand why that family in the beautiful mansion next door was upset when Alberta Brand built this house.

Not only did she build a small house, but it’s right up against the property line on the right side. When we owned this property, the driveway was shared. I truly don’t know who actually owned it and suspect the property line may have been right down the middle.

Why didn’t the owners of the large house purchase at least this lot before Alberta built her house that is still standing a century later?

Neighborhood History

Kokomo wasn’t an old town. In fact, you could say it was a boomtown – and the boom was natural gas discovered in 1886.

In 1868, literally nothing was yet in place in the neighborhood that’s only two blocks from downtown. Both our house and the beautiful house next door would one day be built in that vacant lot with the red arrow. Most of Sycamore was still field and vacant land. The courthouse had been constructed and Railroad Street, now Buckeye, had probably one of few if not the only bridge crossing the Wildcat.

In the mid-1870s, Robert Haskett built that stunning home with a third-floor ballroom next door at 524 W. Sycamore. His land went all the way from Sycamore to Walnut and was truly an estate.

I don’t know for sure, but based on that 1877 map, I’d guess that the original 524 W. Sycamore property was about this size, with 524 just about in the middle, to the right of the red pin marking our house.

After Haskett’s death, the property passed out of the family and the outlots were sold off. At that time, orchards covered most of the land to the west and between Sycamore and Walnut. So our property was in orchards.

530 W. Sycamore was the first house built when the property was subdivided.

I understand why Dr. Lamar Knepple was upset with the sale of the property, but what I don’t understand is why he didn’t purchase the surrounding land, at least part of it.

The history site mentions this canopy over the side door. It was very unusual and I’ve never seen another. What surprises me is that the old trellises remain, and that the actual door seems to be the same too. I recognize the handle and lock. I bet my old key would still work.

There used to be an address and mailbox to the left of the door, for 530 ½ but this home was restored to one residence sometime after 1990 when it was still two apartments. According to the newspaper, in 1996 there was a whole-house sale and in 1997 it was rented as one unit with 4 bedrooms.

Throughout this process, I used, NewspaperArchive, and the newspapers at MyHeritage.

Alberta Brand

In the 1920 census, Millard Brand and his wife, Alberta, were living on Conradt Avenue. He was a real estate agent. They had married in 1890.

In 1921, he died. The newspaper printed the notice of administration for the estate of Millard F. Brand dated Oct 27, 1921. Alberta was the administrator.

She built the home at 530 W. Sycamore sometime in 1922 or 1923, because she was once again in the newspaper in January of 1924, and not in a good way.

Aberta died, suddenly, on January 15, 1924 in the house she was sharing with her daughter. Her death notice says she had built that house.

The Reverend and Mrs. Gerrard had come to visit Alberta that afternoon. They said they hadn’t been there long, and although Alberta’s health had been deteriorating since her husband’s death, as she had taken it very hard, she did not complain of feeling ill.

Suddenly, she slumped onto the shoulder of the minister’s wife, who was sitting beside Alberta. The minister thought she had fainted, so wiped her face with water. When she failed to revive, he went next door to tell the neighbor, who just happened to be the doctor. Apparently, since the article said he informed the doctor’s wife, the doctor wasn’t home at the time.

Alberta hadn’t fainted, she had died, instantly. I’d wager they were sitting in the living room.

The newspaper article goes on to say that she and Millard had lived on Conradt Avenue but at the time of her death she was living with her daughter in a smaller home she had built on West Sycamore Street. Her daughter is listed as Shirley Brand and her son as Gladstone Brand.

Alberta Brand’s funeral was held at her home at 2 PM on Wednesday, January 16, 1924.

So not only had 530 W. Sycamore seen a death, it had also hosted a funeral and it was only a year or two old.

A Mystery to Unravel

Now we have a mystery to unravel. What happened to Alberta’s house?

Fast forward 18 months.

On May 17, 1925, Fred E. Way and wife, Shirley, are listed as arriving passengers in New York (from Havana, Cuba). Their birth dates and years are given, and there is no question that this is the same person as Shirley Brand. They live in Kokomo, but no specific address is provided.

FindaGrave for Shirley shows her birth date as November 18, 1894 which correlated with the passenger list.

In the 1930 census, Fred’s wife is listed as Shirley E, age 34, married at age 29, so apparently about 1925. They are renting on Mulberry Street, directly across the street from the home I would own four decades later. He’s noted as a salesman. In 1920, he was living with his parents in Jackson, Michigan, listed as a traveling salesman. His draft registration says he is their sole support.

Now things get a bit confusing.

I found the house on Sycamore in the 1930 census by locating the neighbor. However, the house numbers are “off.” Dr. Knepple who we know absolutely is the neighbor in the large home to the right is listed at 534, but the address is 524. A different person is noted at 524 and 530 is shown on the “wrong” side of Knepple. It looks for all the world that the census taker wrote the addresses down, but mixed the residents up. Is this even possible? That seems like a really large error.

I float this as a possibility, in part, because on that same block, we find L. Eugene Smith, wife Glea, and 4-year-old son who are renting for $40 per month. He’s an engineer for Kokomo Glass and Fuel. You’ll meet him in a minute.

Ok, let’s check 1920.

Given that the 1920 census shows LaMar Knepple at 534 West Sycamore as well, I now suspect these houses were renumbered at some point after 1930.

The 1932 City Directory lists L. E. Smith, wife Mary G, an engineer for Northern Indiana Power Co at 550 W. Sycamore. 550? Is that a typo?

The 1933 newspaper for 530 W. Sycamore shows an ad for a lost dog Ph 6923

A 1934 newspaper ad – Boys bike for sale L. E. Smith Ph 6923

1937 – Board of works resolves to pay Shirley E. Way and Gladtone Brand, Heirs of Mrs. Alberta Brand $16,000 for “the property.” This had to do with land south of the city. We have a second confirmation that Shirley Way is Shirley Brand.

In the 1940 census, Fred Way and wife Shirley were renting on Mulberry Street. This is very strange, especially since we know she owned the house on Sycamore.

In 1940, Leander E. Smith (38) and his wife, Glea M, and son, Leander Jr. (14) were living at 530 W. Sycamore and had been living there in 1935. He is shown as a renter. By 1950, he is the chief engineer at the steel mill and living elsewhere.

Ok, this seems bizarre.

July 1941 – The 1966 newspaper in the 25 years ago column – 9 boys from Kokomo among the enrollees at Culver Military Academy. L. E. Smith 530 W. Sycamore. That would be July 1941.

Fred Way’s 1942 draft registration card shows that he and Shirley Way live at the Courtland Hotel and he is a salesman. In its day, the Courtland, a swanky, posh hotel, was THE PLACE to go in Kokomo.

In a 1949 newspaper ad – Mrs. C. F. Smith at 530 W. Sycamore – hems and alterations Ph 6923.

Now, here’s the curve ball.

On April 22, 1950, the Kokomo Tribute reports, “The marriage of Miss Shirley Brand of this city and Fred Way of Jacksonville [Jackson], Michigan took place April 20 at the home of the bride, the Rev. M. H. Garrard officiating.”

Wait? What? But Shirley Brand and Fred had been living as husband and wife for a quarter century, since 1925. During that timeframe, living together unmarried for 25 years was literally unheard of.

Are we POSITIVE these are the same people?

In the 1950 census, Fred Way and his wife, Shirley, are living at 530 W. Sycamore. Yep, positively the same people.

I found their marriage license in Howard County, Indiana and they were married on April 20, 1925 by the Reverend Garrard. Maybe they had divorced at some time? Looking at those dates, sure enough, that original trip was their honeymoon, but why were they remarried under her birth surname?

I strongly suspect that we have a mis-indexing issue, or that this news item was actually in the “25 years ago” column.

February 1952 newspaper article – Mr. and Mrs Fred Way returned from a month-long vacation. They flew and cruised and such. He noted that a lot had changed since they were there 25 years earlier.

January 1952 – Fred Way’s Lincoln automobile was stolen, stripped and burned.

December 31, 1953 newspaper ad – Looking for middle aged lady to stay nights. Mrs. Fred Way at 530 W. Sycamore

This is an unusual ad. Makes me wonder why.

October 14, 1954 – Fred Way was selected as a juror

January 20, 1956 – Fred Way retired from W. F. Whitney Company after 25 years as a sales rep for a furniture maker.

Fred’s wife, Shirley Eudora Brand Way, born in 1894, died on June 21, 1959 in the same house where her mother had died. According to her death certificate, she had liver cancer for three months and died of a hemorrhage.

June 18, 1961 – Fred E. Way hospital dismissal – 530 W. Sycamore

FindaGrave says Fred died in February, 1962 in Florida, age 74, of a heart attack. The Indianapolis news says he was a cattle breeder and spent 25 years as a salesman for the W. F. Whitney furniture manufacturer.

I didn’t realize that the home we bought never left the family who built it. I also had no idea of the age of the house. I did know she bought it from the Way family, and the owners had died.

Mom Buys 530 W. Sycamore

Mom bought the property from the Way estate with her inheritance money.

But it wasn’t quite that straightforward. As an adult, I fully understand what was going on, but as a child I was completely oblivious.

My grandmother had died in 1960 and my grandfather died in June of 1962. Following that, the estate was sold and the proceeds divided.

Mom was divorced and my father was not only absent from our life, he contributed either little or nothing financially, and certainly not on any type of reliable schedule. He fought his own demons which would claim his life less than a year later, in the summer of 1963.

Mom had been dating a well-to-do business owner whose name I refuse to utter. He took advantage of mother, and I’m not referring to the “typical” way, but probably that too. He owned the company she worked for, and he paid her $1.13 per hour, slightly above the $1.00 per hour minimum wage as the bookkeeper and office manager. That equates to about $8.20 today. He assuredly could have made other arrangements. HE certainly made substantially more, drove nice cars, and had nice clothes. We didn’t, yet Mom paid half of the bills, cooked and cleaned for no compensation at all.

Mom wanted to marry and have a normal family life. That had pretty much been her lifelong dream, and so far, it had entirely eluded her.

He-whose-name-shall-not-be-uttered, was recently divorced, knew she had an inheritance and apparently talked Mom into purchasing this property and renovating it into two apartments so that he could live downstairs and Mom and I could live upstairs. That way, should they ever decide to marry, the carrot he dangled, it was just a matter of opening the doors at the bottom of the stairs and voila – easy-peasy – one house again.

Of course, he had no intention of every marrying mother. His intention was to keep her beholden and dependent. It was a great deal for him. He knew she would never be able to afford that house without his financial contribution. He also knew she wanted to marry, and given the circumstances, she would never leave that job. She was now alone and trapped, although she had no idea at the time.

So, he paid her poorly to control her. He also knew that the living and financial arrangement would deter any other man that might be even remotely interested.

Mom bought the house. I think he co-signed the mortgage. I don’t believe he had any financial skin in that game.

His entry into the house was through the front or back door into his kitchen. No one ever used the front door.

Of course, his “nice” car got to be parked in the garage. We, on the other hand, got to dig our vehicle out from under snow, hope it started, and shovel the driveway because Mom had to be at the office to open it for business. He followed sometime later, arriving on an executive schedule.

That concrete block chimney wasn’t there at the time. The windows to the left of the door were his bedroom, but might have been a sitting room or maybe dining room originally.

The corner upstairs windows were Mom’s bedroom and the window at far right above the back door was our kitchen.

Our entrance was through that cute side door and we lived upstairs. I notice that cracks in the mortar have been repaired. I always thought of that useless decorative balcony as romantic. Maybe a way to elope with one’s lover.

There is no garage today, but there was then, although it wasn’t in great shape. No garage doors, just a three-sided structure with an overhanging roof. I think that this limb fell on the garage at some point, but I don’t recall the specifics.

Here’s the view from the house behind the wall that divided the properties, looking at the rear of 530 W. Sycamore today. The houses on this side of Sycamore sat on a hill and overlooked Foster Park and Wildcat Creek, another block away to the south.

The garage used to stand where the tall white fence stands today. To the right, the concrete area fenced with shorter lattice was where Mom parked.

This stunning pine tree towers over the house today, but it was no taller than the roof when we lived there.

I used to sit on a blanket in the back yard in the sunshine beside the tree. Today, the tree IS the back yard!

That pine is the only original tree remaining. At that time, there were two maples on the left side of the house, in addition to at least two mature trees in the front yard. Part of one of those trees came down on the roof in the devastating 1965 Palm Sunday tornado. We watched that tornado rip across the south part of the city from those windows in the front of the house.

The windows in the upper left corner were our living room.

When mother realized what was happening, she raced through the living room, into my bedroom, grabbed me by the hair and literally dragged me half-stumbling down two flights of stairs into the basement. I’m not sure our feet touched any steps. We flew.

On the way down, we heard that tree come crashing down – except we had no idea if it was a tree – or what. I had no idea that those fascinating green and black “clouds” were a tornado. That was my first.

Originally, the upstairs and downstairs floor patterns were identical. The downstairs had a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom and what became his bedroom, but I really have no idea what that room was originally. In essence, the rooms wrapped around the central staircase going both upstairs to the second floor and attic, and downstairs into the basement.

Looking directly at the front of the house, you can see that there is an archway with two doors to the right and left on the porch.

The doors aren’t in the middle because that’s where the fireplace is located, on both floors.

The original upstairs had one large bedroom with a fireplace, which would have been the master, plus two smaller bedrooms.

Either there was no bathroom upstairs initially, or there was only a toilet. I can’t recall exactly, but I think it might have been a closet. What I do remember is that some of Mom’s money went to add a bathroom with a bathtub directly over the bathroom in the lower level. The bathrooms are located in the area that is bumped out.

I planted gardens surrounding the house. On this side, we planted lettuce, tomatoes and lots of flowers. Some even grew. It seemed that nasturtiums, which don’t need good soil, were better suited. I tearfully buried my pet goldfish, Freckles in the garden, followed by a few other goldfish over the years.

There was originally no kitchen on the second floor, so one of the bedrooms was renovated and became the kitchen for our apartment.

However, that meant there was only one bedroom upstairs for me and Mom, both, so a wood panel wall was installed, essentially breaking the long master bedroom upstairs into a living room, with an off-center fireplace, and my small bedroom. The closet was large though, held a dresser, and was also the access to the attic.

I had never had my own room before, so I was ecstatic. It didn’t seem small. It was HUGE to me.

Mom purchased the property that fall, and we actually moved on December 23rd. I remember that I was very concerned that Santa would not know that we had moved.

The night we moved, I heard “Santa” come and put the Christmas tree up in the living room. The next morning, Mom assured me that Santa knew where we lived and the proof was that tree. What a relief!

Silk Stocking Neighborhood

Today, this home is part of the iconic Old Silk Stocking Neighborhood that was, back in the late 1800s, after the discovery of natural gas, where the mansions were built and the movers and shakers lived. Of course, this house was built in the mid-1920s on a small outlot, and far too close to the neighbors for their comfort.

It may be for sale today on the Cheap Houses website, but I prefer to think of it as vintage and stunningly beautiful – brighter, cheerier and far more inviting today than then.

Some things get better with age.

Someone commenting on the listing said they’d move back for this house. That made me feel good. It was my childhood home for a decade or so, where most of my formative years were spent.

I went back a few years ago when I did a goodbye tour in Kokomo. I mustered all of my courage, walked up the driveway and knocked on the door. That was all for nothing, because no one was home. However, I did get to take some closeup photos.

Let me share some with you as I share the history of the home while viewing the realtor’s photos. I’ll add some personal memories too.

On the lower level, which is not where we lived, the fireplace was in the center of the room. This fireplace appears to have been retrofitted with gas and glass doors, but the fireplaces were woodburning when we lived there. Having said that, I don’t recall ever burning them once.

At least some of the floors had wall-to-wall carpet back then. Carpet was all the rage. Wood was old-fashioned. These floors were obviously underneath and they are beautiful.

This view looks towards the side of the house overlooking the driveway. Outside through the symmetrical front doors, you can see the parking lot across the street.

To the left is the entryway where the side door enters to go upstairs. Closing that door, plus the mirror image one on the other side of that foyer, sealed the two apartments from each other. Of course, today, it’s one residence again.

You can tell from this perspective that the room is the full width of the house, but not terribly deep (left to right.) Just about room for a couch and coffee table, and not much more.

This view is from the corner of the downstairs living room beside the fireplace and front door. I had forgotten about that built-in hutch until I saw these photos.

The foyer, again, is painted dark at the far right. The other doorway is the passway to the other side of the house. Opening the door to the right takes you downstairs into the basement where the furnace, water heater and washer were located. We dried our clothes on a drying rack in the bathroom. That stairway divided the house in half, front to back.

Turn left after entering the hallway and you’ll be in the bathroom behind the hutch.

You can see the hallway on the other side of the white molding where there’s wallpaper. That leads to the kitchen and the room that was used as the downstairs bedroom when we lived there.

That hutch looks large, but it isn’t. That bathroom was literally just large enough for a bathtub.

I find this photo just fascinating. The downstairs bathroom is clearly under renovation. This exposes the internal and external walls. No insulation back then of course. The walls were literally lathe and plaster, long before drywall.

There’s room for a toilet and sink on one side, and a tub on the other. That’s it.

Of course, this is the original and the only kitchen today. During the time we lived there, this kitchen was nearly unused. I don’t remember anything about the floor, but I do remember the cabinets were wood and have been replaced.

Outside was a patio where we sometimes grilled.

This kitchen is not a large room. It’s directly under the kitchen of the same size, upstairs. You can see the living room fireplace, looking through the kitchen door.

Turning left from the kitchen takes you into what was the bedroom when we lived there, and what might have been a dining room originally. The doorway to the right exits into the foyer for the side entrance.

Originally, the entire house was heated by hot water, a “boiler” and radiators as you can see in this photo. That radiator, by the front door, was often used to warm coats and sweaters that we would wear outside in the winter. Or, warm something toasty for someone coming inside from the cold. A small table sat on the other side of the door where the radiator sits on this side.

Mom was utterly terrified of that furnace. Boilers were known to blow up, killing or brutally burning people. So if the furnace made a strange noise, she did NOT want to go downstairs to check it out.

I have to laugh. I see the old phone jack on the wall below the electrical outlet. Those were the days of “party lines,” so we had one phone number in the house that was also shared with neighbors. Gladstone 2-7510. Eventually that became 452-7510, then 317-452-7510.

I can manage to remember this number from decades ago, but I can’t remember where I put something 2 minutes ago.

Let’s go upstairs.

Our Apartment

The downstairs looks familiar of course, but I didn’t spend much time there. The upstairs was “home.”

Photos from that timeframe in my family were few and far between. Not only was a camera expensive, but so was film AND developing. Back in the day, you might have the same roll of film in a camera for a year or two. I often had forgotten what I had taken photos of.

Until I purchased a Brownie camera with my babysitting money, the only camera available was either the Polaroid owned by he-whose-name-shall-not-be-spoken or a small camera owned by my brother who brought it along when he came to visit. Let me translate – we only have a very few photos and those are generally only of special occasions like Christmas.

Let’s compare then and now.

How about that wallpaper on the living room ceiling!

Today, this front room has been returned to one room, but when we lived there, it was two. It’s maybe 30-35 feet in length and only about 10 feet deep (left to right.)

My bedroom was at the far end of the room which was divided by placing paneling between the fireplace and the window.

This view shows the two corner windows in what was my bedroom. The light in the center of my room is now the fan and overhead light. My bedroom was wide enough for a single bed, room to walk, and a desk against the outer wall. Maybe 6 feet wide, maximum.  At that time, there was a radiator in the corner between the two windows, against the far wall. I would stare dreamily out the front window, a block away, into Foster Park.

In the poor-quality Polaroid photo below, I’m sitting beside Mom and my sister-in-law at Christmastime 1964.

As a child, that fireplace looked huge and was the central focus of that room. We used to tape Christmas cards to the mantle and sometimes the bricks too, which were painted white then as now.

These photos independently were compelling enough, but combined, more than half a century apart, they literally took my breath away. “Seeing” us “there” again. Well, I just have no words. I did, however, shed lots of tears.

I don’t really know why this is so moving, but it is.

Many of these people are gone now and their memories are dear.

In this view, you can see out my bedroom window, at left. The paneling dividing my bedroom from the living room was placed about where the molding has been pieced, to the left of the fireplace.

The far-right corner of the room is visible in this picture taken at Christmas 1970, when, unfortunately, Mom had the flu. When someone was sick, we always defaulted to the couch for some reason.

I gave those end-tables to my friend, Anne, about a decade ago.

I believe the windows are still original.

Seeing Mom in this room again…I don’t even know what to say. The house she bought against all odds. She was reportedly the first woman in Kokomo to obtain her own mortgage. She never told me, if she even knew. A banker told me years later. I was so very proud of her.

In this photo, I’m ready for the prom and the photo is taken in the living room, with my back to the panel wall that separated the living room from my bedroom.

My brother’s family has that beer stein, brought from Germany by one my maternal great-great-grandparent’s families.

I had purchased that wall painting for Mom at Woolworth’s a few years before. You can see it wrapped in some of the Christmas photos. I thought it was pretty. She kept it until her death. I hope she actually did like it.

You can see where the panel wall joined the outside wall.

My date’s name was Roger. This was the only prom or formal dance I ever attended. I think Mom was at least as excited as I was, if not more. She had high hopes for me and Roger. He was a very nice young man.

You can see through the door into my room. It was barely large enough for the closet door and the door from the living room not to touch.

I believe this is the only photo inside my bedroom. You can see the paneling wall. I had purchased prints overseas in 1970 and Mom had them framed for me for Christmas. In 1970, we begin to have more photos because I bought a camera.

My bed extended in front of the window just slightly. There was room to stand comfortably beside the bed, and the radiator, and not much more.

The leaves on the maple tree, now gone, through the streetlight created graceful dancing patterns on my wall. I found them comforting and almost hypnotic. Today, leaves are often found as themes in my quilts and artwork.

Another photo from around Christmas 1970. We cleared the furniture out of the middle of the room and had a slumber party. Not much sleeping happened, but a lot of laughing and giggling did. Mom and I had tied that comforter that all of us girls used to cover up with on the floor. Mom and I recovered it again with fresh fabric years later, and it eventually warmed my children at my mother’s home.

I think I just used the last scraps from the recovering in a quilt a year or so ago.

I’m not sure if I was sleeping or hiding from the camera.

Mom had to be careful not to step on us when she checked on us. I wonder how many times she had to tell us to go to sleep. Marianne has been gone for decades now, far too soon, her potential unrealized.

In 1970, Mom, holding all 3 of her grandchildren, sitting in the corner with the fireplace (unseen) to the left.

This photo reminds me that those windows would sweat, then freeze, when it got cold outside.

Mom was her happiest when her grandchildren were with her.

We were SOOO excited when we bought that used record player. We played the same records over and over again. I probably just donated the last of those records a couple years ago.

Today, this house is much brighter, lighter, and far more beautiful.

Mom, holding Santa who still lives with me. So does that quilt made by her grandmother, Nora Kirsch Lore.

I remember the mug tree I had bought Mom for Christmas that’s visible on the floor. She was drinking 7-Up out of that teal and white cup.

The radiator in this room is gone now.

In a way, placing these photos in the rooms is like resurrecting Christmas past. I can hear Mom singing Christmas Carols.

I can’t see what Mom just opened, but she’s smiling. I miss her smile.

We always hung those candle wreathes in the windows. Those were our only holiday decorations visible from outside.

I can’t help but notice that Christmas ornament in the lower right corner. I still have that too. It was my grandmother’s.

One last much-less-cluttered view of this corner. Our house was jam packed at Christmas, but not so much the rest of the year. With 700 square feet, with part of that used up by a hallway and stairway, there just wasn’t room for much of anything extra.

I’m a teen here and certainly thought I was grown.

I would like to talk to that young woman. I wonder what we would have to say to each other. Would she believe that I’m the future her? Would she change that path? If so, who would I be?

This window used to look out at the large maple tree that fell in the tornado. The far doorway exits to the hallway with the bathroom and that leads to the rest of the house.

The white small door in the corner is the access to the bathtub plumbing.

The doorway to the far right, painted white inside, was my closet. To the right inside, against that small window with the exterior balcony, there was room for a small dresser. Good thing, because there wasn’t any place else. Inside that closet, if you turned left, you opened the door to take the finished stairs to the attic. By finished, I mean there were stairs and it wasn’t open. We will go upstairs later.

You can see how small this corner really is. Mom, at left, me, my mother’s brother, Lore behind her, beside my sister-in-law, Karen, and my brother, John in the red shirt. Plus, he-who-shall-remain-nameless.

You can see the carpeted portion of the floors in this photo. I don’t know if this is original hardwood or has been replaced.

I think that lamp in the corner made it to my daughter’s college apartment.

Glancing back to July of 1965.

Often, our Christmas tree wound up in that corner. I gave many of my ornaments to friends when we relocated a couple years ago, but I couldn’t part with my mother’s and grandmother’s things.

I wonder if any part of the essence of “us” remains there.

This photo from Christmas 1970 slows the light fixture where the fan hangs today. You can barely see it but there’s mistletoe hanging from it. You can see the window, of course, and the plumbing access behind that very old television. We only bought used appliances, and it was old even then. But it worked and that was all that mattered. Mom and I watched Lassie and Bonanza every Sunday evening, and sometimes Tom Jones too.

This photo made me laugh out loud. No, it’s not a mistletoe memory. See that plumbing access door behind the tree? It’s cracked open.

Our cat, Snowball, used to open that door with her paw just because she could. Normally we kept it blocked, but we had to move the furniture to accommodate the tree.

This will be a beautiful master bedroom suite for someone, with a large walk-in closet. There’s even room for a Christmas tree if they want.

Hey, there’s the fluffy culprit, under the Christmas tree.

This photo is interesting, because I just noticed that the carpet was not wall to wall, and some of the beautiful hardwood is showing.

That carpet was hideous. Hideous!!! I think the carpet pad was horsehair and was constantly unraveling. You can see an example. Mom and I both hated that.

Against the long wall, Mom and I had metal bookcases from my grandmother’s house where we displayed family heirlooms and collectibles.

I still have some of those and so does my brother’s family. Other items I’ve gifted to family members. I remember dusting those shelves every Saturday morning. Mom told me that’s how I helped her earn a living.

It seemed like a huge job at the time.

You can see a few sets of salt and pepper shakers. Those swans on the top shelf are in my display case, today.

In Nov of 1966, I displayed those salt and pepper shakers at the local library.

I was very excited about this opportunity.

I had nearly forgotten about this event, were it not for searching for the house address. I remember how delighted I was to have my picture taken by the real newspaper photographer. I also agonized over what to wear.

That long photo hanging on the paneling wall in my prom photo was wrapped in that striped paper. I purchased it in 1970 for Mom.

Ok, anyone recognize that record album cover?

The hallway into the bathroom was gold when we lived there.

Today, the upstairs bathroom is about the same color as the hallway was back then. I remember those knobs on the walls. Seemed like such a strange place. I’m fairly certain that tub is the one Mom had installed. We only ever used about 3 inches of water to keep the water bill to a minimum. To this day I cherish a long, hot bath with a FULL TUB of water.

I don’t remember anything about the original bathroom floor, but this doesn’t look new.

I can tell that this house has been retrofitted with forced air heat, which assuredly includes air conditioning.

This is not the same vanity, but it might be the same mirror. After dinner on the day Mom had it installed, I was brushing my teeth. She was nagging me to hurry up. I did, but begrudgingly.

I walked out of the bathroom and I mean literally, not 2 seconds later, an ear-piercing CRASH right behind me. There was a horrific, horrific, piercing deafening noise. The mirror, which was only glued in place had fallen and shattered across the sink and countertop, with shards scattered EVERYPLACE. I was so close I had little cuts and scratches on the back of my legs.

Mother ran screaming towards me. I froze in place because there was glass flying around me and on the floor and I needed to figure out what had just happened before moving.

Mother realized how close I’d come, and so did I. She grabbed me, hugged me, and just held me for the longest time. She told me later I would have been decapitated had it fallen across the back of my head and neck if I were still brushing my teeth. I’ve always been very leery of large mirrors. I think I used one of my 9-lives that day.

Mom of course used that opportunity to remind me of why I should always mind her.

Notice there are brackets on that mirror today. I always notice brackets on mirrors.

The reason the towel bar is on the back of the door is because there isn’t anyplace else to put one.

Let’s go across the hall.

This was Mom’s bedroom. It looks out over the driveway at the large house next door. I don’t recall it being so close, but it obviously was.

I remember putting our clothes over the radiator to warm them on cold winder days. I also remember “bleeding” the radiators to purge the air bubbles so they didn’t make so doggone much noise. Mom called the man in the furnace “Mr. Clank.”

“Mr. Clank is at it again.”

The small telephone table, which I still have, was positioned beside the radiator. If a boyfriend called me, there was literally no such thing as privacy. Worse yet, Mom screened all my calls😊

Our one radio which doubled as an alarm was in Mom’s bedroom. I wanted to listen to WLS rock and roll in Chicago. That was a flat “no.”

You obviously can’t have a slumber party without doing your hair and makeup as Marianne demonstrates. No, I do not understand this logic, but it clearly made sense then. That’s a hair dryer, for those of you fortunate enough to have escaped those. I think it might have been attached to a vacuum cleaner, but I’m not sure.

That window behind the hideous gold drapes overlooked the driveway. The good news, or bad news, is that no one could come or go up the driveway in either house without everyone in both houses knowing it.

Me getting ready for the prom a year or so later. You can see the drapes in the mirror. I still have many of Mother’s vanity items, along with the vanity. They will be my daughter’s one day and then will hopefully find their way to either a cousin or collector who will appreciate them. They aren’t monetarily valuable, per se, I just couldn’t let them go.

You can’t see much of Mom’s bedroom here, but her vanity was to the left of her closet door. In fact, the door would hit the vanity so we had a trash can sitting there to act as a buffer. I still have her bedroom set, at least part of it, although it’s much the worse for decades of wear.

From the far corner of Mom’s bedroom, you can see into the bathroom across the hall. Mom’s closet was not large, was crammed and in addition to clothes and the vacuum, she hid Christmas gifts in there. She probably figured if she hid them under the vacuum cleaner that there was no chance of anyone ever finding them.

Mom’s bed was along the wall to the right. My grandmother’s wool rug was underneath the bed, but that rug was threadbare and motheaten to death and was disposed of years ago. It might be even beyond shabby chic today.

If you walk into that hallway and turn right, you’ve entered the kitchen.

The kitchen was small, maybe 10 by 10 or 10 by 12. One window, at left, looked to the west towards the white house. A huge maple shaded the kitchen from the afternoon sun and the squirrels used to come and sit on the windowsill. I might or might not have given them treats. Don’t tell Mom!

We had no air conditioning, of course, so we placed a window fan in that window and pointed it OUT, not in. Mom and I disagreed over that, but she wanted the hot air to be ejected. Of course, I argued that it simply sucked hot air in from the attic where it was hotter than outside.

I used to sing out through that fan because it caused interesting, rippled acoustics. Those poor neighbors.

Mom left the house closed up all day and said it kept the cool air in. Couldn’t prove that by me. There was nothing cool about the second floor of a house with no insulation in the dead of summer.

The kitchen table was located in front of the rear window at right. We loved to watch the birds in that pine tree flitting about. I didn’t understand until years later that they were mating.

I can close my eyes and see that Formica table and chairs. The table was pushed up against the window because the room wasn’t big enough for the fourth side of the table to be pulled away from the wall.

I did most of my homework on this table, at Mom’s secretary, or on the couch in the living room. When I had to type a term paper, this is where that happened on the old manual Olivetti typewriter. I actually loved to type and I loved to research. Apparently, I still do.

Every night, the same routine occurred. Mom, came home at 5 PM after working all day. Then she cooked dinner. He-who-shall-remain-nameless took his fine self down to the bar at the Frances Hotel for a drink, or three, or six, then came home in time to sit down to dinner. Often, we got the silent treatment for some imagined slight. However, that was often better than when he said something.

He would finish, put his cloth napkin IN HIS PLATE, then get up and go downstairs to his apartment. He was tired, don’t you know. Mom and I did the dishes and cleaned up, because of course, Mom wasn’t tired.


Mom and I ate out once every year. Just once. As a reward when I passed from one grade to the next, I got to pick where to eat, and it was always the same place. I always ordered spaghetti at the Capri Club, now long gone. The other 364 days, we cooked.

As time went on, he came home drunker and drunker and later and later as we held dinner and tried to pretend all was well.  He became more and more abusive.

Finally, I’d had enough.

I put a thumbtack on his chair, pointy end up.

That man roared like a lion.

Yes, I was in a lot of trouble and paid for it, but it was worth it.

He was not a nice man by any measure. That was someplace near the beginning of the end of that relationship. As far as I was concerned, it could have ended right then and there, but Mom had a lot of factors to consider, and she was still at least somewhat hopeful. “If he would just stop drinking.” How many people have said that!

Mom’s default was always hopeful, happy, trusting, optimistic. She would have liked to have been treated well, not just on display like a trophy from time to time. She was a beautiful woman, full of life and charisma.

She reminded me of Cinderella. She spent most of her life either at work or in the kitchen, with no time, money or energy for much else.

Ok, back to the kitchen.

Out of sight, to the right, on the back wall of the kitchen that was shared with Mom’s bedroom was the fridge.

The stove was located on the wall to the left of the window where the picture is on the floor in the Zillow kitchen photo. Above the stove were cabinets.

I clearly surprised Mom with the camera. How we all hated those rollers. Anyway, you can see the kitchen curtains, which we made, and the cabinets butting up to the window frame at left. The stove took up that space, below, then the corner to the cabinets. We couldn’t open the oven door and the cabinets at the same time.

The sink and the rest of the cabinets were to the left, out of sight in these photos. Remember that this room is small and the entire wall to the left with the sink is only the length of the bathtub. That’s it. That wall is shared with the bathroom wall. We had about 2 feet of counter space, yet Mom made do and never complained.

Obviously all of that cabinetry and plumbing is gone today, and has been now for probably 25-30 years, based on newspaper rental and sale advertisements.

The Attic

Let’s look at the attic, back through the closet in my bedroom. We used to hang the “rag bag” on the outside of the attic door. My closet was always freezing cold in the winter. No heat combined with the attic stairs and door. Brrrr.

The attic was always an alluring, mystical place to me. I just knew secrets were hidden there.

Secrets like those suitcases with stage costumes. Where did they come from? Whose were they? Why did Mom not want me to wear them for Halloween? They would be just perfect.

Nope, Mom really didn’t want me poking around up there at all.

Mom’s old travel suitcase with documents was up there too. I had no IDEA what a treasure-trove was contained there.

By the time Mom gave me her “Suitcase of Life,” she had pared it down substantially. Probably the goodies I’d want to see. I remember some things that are missing.

This attic photo just warms my heart. First, the attic was not drywalled or heated when we lived there. Just open lathe board, dust and a few spiders. It was very drafty in the winter but had an exciting “attic” musty smell that suggested unknown mysteries.

The flooring is original. I remember thinking how beautiful those fireplace bricks were, and how sorry I was that they had been painted in the house.

Notice one of the removed radiators.

Those unique half windows used to remind me of eyes. I never thought they were creepy, but someone commented on the listing that they are the same windows at the Amityville Horrors house. I’m glad I didn’t know that.

The rear attic window looked out back. There was only one light bulb at the time, and the switch was in the stairway near the bottom. It was easy to hear bears, or something, maybe ghosts, in the attic from time to time, and since the door exited into my room….well….you get the drift.

Sometimes I went and crawled in bed with Mom.

The Rest of the Story

Viewing a home you lived in brings back the good memories, and all the rest too.

There’s more to this story.

There wasn’t a good way to weave this into the photos, because the photos aren’t a linear timeline.

We bought the house in December of 1962.

We lived close enough to the YWCA that I could walk the few blocks to and from and began taking swimming lessons on Saturday mornings. That eventually evolved into lifesaving and competitive swimming.

I loved those days because we had so much fun, created crafts and all kinds of things you can’t do as an only child, without others, and without supplies. It was also less structured than school, and school didn’t have fun activities like trampolines, roller skates and a pool. Nosireee.

I came home one Saturday noon and told my Mom that my head ached really, really badly. It got worse and worse and very quickly. Within a couple hours, I couldn’t move. Mom took me to the hospital. I had Meningitis and very nearly died.

I drifted in and out of consciousness. My fever soared. I remember ice baths and excruciating pain. I was so sick, I wanted to die, then I didn’t care.

I remember parts of that experience vividly, and some, not at all.

What I remember most was the out-of-body experience.

Mom sat by my bed, alone, for days. She was always there when I roused enough to open my eyes. Sometimes I just heard her voice which was comforting.

Looking back, she had to have been a hot mess because not only was I very clearly critically ill, with a poor prognosis, but she couldn’t pay the bills if she didn’t work – and there literally was no buffer. Nonetheless, she wasn’t leaving my bedside.

The doctor came into the room and asked to speak to mother – outside. I was in an oxygen tent that was sort of opaque. I could hear fairly well but everything was foggy.

I was too sick to move and there was no way I was getting up.

Mom left the room with him and turned left in the hallway.

I “went along,” sort of floating at shoulder level, or sometimes just above their heads. I wanted to hear what they said.

They went to the seating area at the end of the hallway. There were windows looking out over the parking lot and street.

It was a sunny day. I can still “see” this.

He asked Mom if she needed to call anyone. The staff had obviously noticed that she was alone.

She asked what he meant.

He asked if there was anyone who would like to see me, or I might like to have visit.

She seemed confused and told him that my father and her parents were all deceased.

He told her that it was likely that I would not live.

My mother asked him to explain.

He did, telling her how sick I was and that the extremely high fever was the most worrisome.

She stood up, looked at him dead in the face, stomped her foot and proclaimed,”SHE IS NOT GOING TO DIE,” twice, and walked off, back to my room.

I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, well I guess I’m not going to die then.”

I went back to my room too.

Yes, I realize this all sounds bizarre, but in that time and place, it all seemed very normal.

I later told mother that I had heard that conversation and she told me that wasn’t possible, because they were not in my hospital room. Then she paused and said she had never told anyone about the conversation.

I told her that I “went with them.”

She just looked at me. We stared at each other for a long minute.

Obviously, I didn’t die.

Mrs. Cooksey, my babysitter from when I was younger came to see me in the hospital. But my brother didn’t, although he lived an hour away, and neither did he-who-shall-remain-nameless.

My mother did. Just my mother. It was becoming increasingly obvious that we really only had each other.

According to the newspaper, on May 6, 1966, I was released from the hospital.

Also, in May 1966, this was printed in that same newspaper. I only recall that in Sunday School, we were encouraged to write a prayer. I don’t know if it was before or after I was so gravely ill. Odd that I mentioned “time,” because that was the gift I had been granted.

The Secret

I discovered something rather shocking when using the various newspaper archives to research the address.

On September 28, 1968, I found this:

Marcum Realty, New Listing – 530. W. Sycamore – brick 2-story, 7 room duplex, perfect cond, new wall to wall carpet. Built in oven and range, all draperies, washer, refrig. A 3 room apt down, 4 room apartment up. Private entrance, separate light meters. This is a beautiful home and must be seen to appreciate. $25,000

My first reaction was that the address was wrong in the ad, but the description of the two apartments pretty much cinches that it’s the right property. Plus, this ad was printed several times for at least a couple months. If the address was incorrect, it would have been changed.

I was dumbstruck to see this. I had no idea.

Looking back, I know what was going on, and why, but it just makes me heartsick.

By 1968, mother’s relationship with he-who-shall-remain-nameless had been deteriorating. He was drinking heavily, becoming progressively more abusive, and let’s just say I was getting older. His behavior toward me was becoming increasingly inappropriate, until one day he stepped over the line with his advances. I was 12.

Let’s just say a brawl ensued. Mother heard me screaming. I had grabbed a table fan and was beating him with the fan, attempting to get him to release me.

Mother jumped on his back like a tiger and grabbed him around the neck. Then we were both beating on him, on the floor. He extracted himself and left.

Mother called the police.

I was questioned, she was questioned and eventually, he was questioned.

It was all very disconcerting and frightening. There was discussion about taking me away from mother. That utterly terrified both of us.

No charges were ever filed. I was fortunate that the event was “only attempted.” Having said that, it was an incredible violation of trust and had I not screamed, grabbed that fan which was the only thing within reach, and mother had not come running, it would unquestionably have been far worse. It also confirmed that my instincts in not liking him were 100% correct. From that day forward, my feelings towards him flipped from dislike to much worse. I despised him.

Mother was still working for him, but she was utterly furious in a way and to a depth that I think only a parent whose child has been put in that position can understand. I don’t know how she managed to even look at him. Mostly, we avoided him. No more meals. Nothing. He was gone most of the time and we were grateful.

The problem was that, aside from working for him, I think he co-signed for the house. I’m unclear about the actual title. Given his behavior, at that point, it didn’t matter.

He got told in no uncertain terms to move. No option. I suspect that the fact that charges were not filed had something to do with why he complied, moved, and did not fire mother. Those statements I gave the police were pretty incriminating.

However, mother was utterly and completely miserable, but not because he was gone. More because he had turned out to be what he was and the situation she had to deal with.

Day to day she was not only worried about her job, she was worried about not being able to pay the mortgage and utilities. Plus she was worried about me, and about me being taken away from her. That’s when she took side work doing legal transcriptions and such. I was babysitting regularly. We pooled our money.

At least our grocery bill had shrunk substantially and we were both, separately, and together, much happier.

What I hadn’t known, until now, was that mother actually listed the house for sale.

I recall one time she was sitting on the side of my bed and told me that we might have to sell the house. I asked where we would live. She said she didn’t know. She was a wreck. We both cried.

The assaulter continued his downward spiral too. Drinking ever more and developed issues with the business. Two or three years later, he would sell it to keep it from going bankrupt. Mother was quite relieved when it sold, because even with a new owner, at least the constant baiting, passive aggressive manipulation and drama was finally over.

Mother was constantly, continually dealing with uncertainty and danger. She tried to shield me from as much as possible, which is why I never knew she had actually put the house on the market for sale. There was never a sign in the yard, but maybe that wasn’t a thing yet back then.

Clearly, she didn’t sell the house – at least not yet.

She rented the downstairs apartment to a very nice lady, Maxine, who was either a widow or divorced, with an adult son who was away at college.

I remember her telling us that Snowball, the cat, sounded like an elephant upstairs when she got the zoomies.

Maxine was a lovely lady. Our life settled down and a great deal of the uncertainty and chronic anxiety evaporated. I don’t think we had realized how bad it had gotten until it stopped.

Maxine lived in the downstairs apartment until Mom sold the property. I made clothes for her for a little extra income.

The house was ours. He wasn’t involved anymore, ever.

For the first time in my life, I was actually joyful. Life now looked like a smorgasbord of opportunity, just waiting for me to make selections. It was. I earned a scholarship to study overseas in 1970.

Mom and I were doing any number of fun things together. We visited relatives and parks. She took me to New York to catch the flight for my study abroad. After what she had survived, even NYC traffic didn’t frighten her.

In 1970 or 1971, Mid States Electric was finally sold to Universal Electric and her job was finally not in jeopardy every day. By this time, I think she had been interviewing and had backup plans.

I hadn’t realized before that Mother had never been truly happy – at least not in the part of her lifetime I could recall. Now she was.

New Chapter

Mom joined Parents Without Partners and became the newsletter editor.

Mom is barely visible to the left of the lady the blue dress at the officer installation dinner in 1971.

According to the August 15th edition of the newspaper, she was also in charge of a VERY important event – the Ice Cream Social.

I remember that ice cream social well.

Ice cream was hand made in a crank-turned barrel, much like this. We all took turns cranking.

That social did not take place at our house. Nope. We didn’t have enough room for either people or parking. It took place at the home of another PWP member who lived on a farm – Dean Long.

I remember Dean well too. He was just the nicest man. Everyone loved Dean.

PWP had far more female members than men. Most of the male members had custody of and were raising at least one child. Dean was a widower and had a son, Gary, just a couple years older than me.

Dean would come to town in the evenings, after his farm work was done, and after dinner, usually bringing some kind of treat. He would visit the various women in PWP, offering to fix whatever needed fixing. The lady would make coffee or tea. He would fix whatever. They would share the cookies or donuts or sweet treat, visit for a bit, talk about whatever needed to be discussed, then off he would go.

He managed to visit everyone about once a month or every 6 weeks.

One day it was our turn. He walked up the driveway with a spring in his step, wearing his blue suit, carrying a box of donuts.

He rang the doorbell. Mom whispered not to answer it. She was tired and didn’t want company.

He rang again. I looked out my window at him. I felt awful. He was so nice and obviously lonely.

He paused for a long time, then rang a third time.

He surely, surely had to know we were home because the garage out back didn’t have a door and our car was there. Maybe he didn’t look. I hope he didn’t look, because he would have known we were home and intentionally not answering the door.

When he walked away, the spring was gone. His shoulders were hunched over. He looked at the ground, and he was dejected as he walked down the driveway, got in his car, and drove away.

I was furious with mother. I told her I would never, ever do that again.

Mother was afraid that he was “courting,” and she did not want to get involved in a relationship again. Plus, he was a farmer and she swore she’d never move back to a farm again. Famous last words.

If the name Dean Long sounds familiar to you, there’s a reason. Mother’s resistance didn’t work at all. I’d like to take a small amount of credit for that. Not only did I answer the door, I was just awful enough that she needed to be comforted from time to time.

The Sale for Real

On August 19, 1972, the newspaper carried a classified ad for the Sycamore property.

Garage sale, Avon bottles, some antiques, misc, Sat 9-2, Sun 11-?

The house sold that August. I believe the neighbor’s son bought it, but I don’t recall for sure.

We had a LOT of sorting and packing to do.

Mom was also in the process of changing jobs again. It was time.

Problem was that the house sold and closed quicker than mother anticipated.

Two or three weeks before the wedding and she was not ABOUT to move in to his house before they were married. Snowball, however, moved and met his dog, Spot.

Dad in the background, my step-brother, Gary and Spot during the moving-in process.

Combining two households was challenging and messy, but we were all very happy to create our blended family.

Dean became Dad, and we, much like the proverbial fairy tale lived happily as a “normal” family for many years.

What About You?

What can a combination of googling an address and using newspaper subscription sites reveal for you? What does Zillow say?

Is the house where you grew up still standing? If not, can you construct its genealogy through your local newspapers, tax and real estate records, and historical sites?

What about your grandparents’ homes?

Let me know what fun things you discover.


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16 thoughts on “Finding the Old Home Place with Zillow – 52 Ancestors #394

  1. As ALWAYS, Roberta, an incredible amount of research, combined with your memories (both good and bad), interspersing photographs old and current, makes for another of your COMPELLING reports.

    I’ve revisited former homes and memories, but never with the detail and story-telling that you do.

  2. Roberta, What an incredible story and documentary on the house. I told my sister if the house we grew up in ever comes up for sale to let me know. It wouldn’t be before that I’d even attempt 10% of the effort you put in on this. Love how you showed past photos with current photos. Who ever is selling the house did a good job with the many views. Hope someone nice buys it.

  3. The house I grew up in is probably not mentioned in newspapers at all. For me, the interest is in the neighbours. Several were mildly famous at one time or another for all sorts of things.
    There are few family photos in the house. But I do have a little notebook my father used to record lots of details during the building of the house. Money was tight, and every last penny was recorded. Even then he had taken on extra work to cope. And came home at night to hammer in floorboards himself. There is one wonderful photo of my mother assembling sash window frames in a room with only a few floorboards. She is sitting on one with her feet on the earth beneath. And looks so happy.

  4. This really touched me Roberta. I got tears at one point and then really did shed some later in the story. Thank you for sharing. My mum too attended PWP here in Australia and I have many fond memories of the family outings they held in the late 70s.

  5. If only you could access the pictures, the realtors took (over the last hundred years) of the houses that were for sale.

  6. I see that Sycamore St in Kokomo is also known as E 100 N

    My brother in law (deceased) lived for 30 years on N 100 E.

    Kokomo mailing address although I think its a bit out of the city limits. Property still in the family.

    At one time, I had visited Kokomo so many times, I knew my way around.

    • Those number roads are so confusing. 100 E runs north and south and is located a mile east of the center of the county. 100 N runs east and west and is located a mile north of the center of the county.

  7. I love this! What a beautiful house. I’d buy it, except I don’t really want to live in northern Indiana! Being that close to Fort Wayne would be a real bonus, though. I have second cousins in Kokomo. They are older than you and their children would probably be younger, but you might have known some of them. Their name is Harrell. One of them owned a pizza place. Yes, they are from Claiborne County!

    • I wonder if that is the other Harrell line. Who would ever have guessed that there would be two distinct lines in the same county. The “other” Harrell line is from south of Tazewell, near the Granger border. And like you, I don’t want to live in northern Indiana either, or anyplace with snow anymore.

      • I’m related to the Harrell second cousins through their mother, who was a Monday and born in Speedwell, Claiborne County. Their father was James Scott Harrell born in Grainger County, so he was probably a “south of Tazewell” Harrell.

  8. I loved this story, you brought that beautiful house to life, I too visited our house on Zillow it was where we lived from 1947 to 1964. It was a three story tenement in Providence, Rhode Island, built by my Great Grandfather, all four generations lived there at one time or another. The pictures of the third floor where we lived first were so different from when five of us lived there, Mom, Dad, me, my brother and my mother’s mother our Nana. They had turned my brother and my bedroom into this luxurious bathroom and the old bathroom into an office space. They had removed the wall seperating the kitchen from the parlor, so it was one large open space. I did love seeing that third floor again, wish there had been pictures of the two flights of stairs that had to be climbed to get there, they both had turns in them they did not go straight up, loved those stairs. Everyone should take a look at their childhood home, it does stir up memories. Thanks again.

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