Tuesday, April 10, 2007

You can't go home again...

My grandmother sitting out front - 1954 83 Ocean Ave. - 1953

A week or so ago I had the pleasure of traveling with my friend Sally down to Long Island to find a place for her son's wedding rehearsal dinner. (That's a whole separate story in itself for a later time.) Anyway, it gave me the opportunity to visit the neighborhood I grew up in. For those of you who don't know and those who do, I grew up in Massapequa Park, Long Island, NY. I was then, am now, and will always be -- a Long Islander (accent and all).

This past winter I had heard that the people who bought the house I grew up in had made a few changes. I also heard the neighbors weren't real thrilled. I wondered how bad it could be? Well, I found out. My area of Massapequa Park is filled with identical blocks of cookie cutter houses. You might have a two by four block square that are all Cape Cods, then next to that several blocks of ranches, then several blocks of split levels. Not very original in the initial design, but it was post WWII housing for the thousands that flocked to Long Island after the war to work in the city and in the growing white collar industries popping up on the Island. Everyone took pride in their homes and while they looked identical from the outside, everyone found a way to make their house their own and distinct from the one next door or across the street.

My parents were one of those newlywed couples who began their American dream in the suburbs of Long Island. I have a picture of my mom and one of her oldest friends standing in front of our house just after it was finished. I may not have even been born yet when the photo was taken. There are no trees, just saplings and the lawn is marked out with stakes as the grass seed hadn't taken hold yet. My brother and I grew up in this house, I was married from this house and my parents had a "burning of the mortgage" party and finally a going away party for all their Long Island friends when they sold the house and moved to North Carolina for their retirement. The last time I was on the front steps of the house was shortly after the new owners took possession. Trying to hold back a tear or two, I wished them a lifetime of happiness in the house that had provided us with so much happiness.

May 1989 - The Day my parents moved

Well, what they say is true, you can't go home again. Sally and I pulled up to the house and for all intents and purposes, it's gone. There is a fairly attractive, country, farm style, two story house with an awkward one car garage in it's place. It takes up almost the entire front lawn and I was too awestruck by it to actually cross the street and peek into the backyard. All our neighbors homes are as they were, maintained with loving care, small changes in colors, porches, etc. but a block of mid-century Cape Cods. I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I'm glad I have pictures of the old place and to be honest, it's not my house anymore. I think I feel the worst for my old neighbors. They must look at it and just remember my parents and what it was like for the 30 years they lived there and realize the past is really past. I know my Dad would be very upset to see it; he put so much work and care into it. I think my Mom would just be sad but would acknowledge that we have no more say in what happens, life moves on. I think I feel the same way too. So for those who remember 83 Ocean Avenue, here it stands today. No longer the Kenzie's.


Tracy said...

Wow - Donna. You must have been shocked to see the new building. Photos are such simple treasures!

Debby said...

I know this isn't your first post, but I wanted to congratulate you on your blog! Welcome to blogland...the pleasure and pressure begins!
See you soon!

Jan said...

Just read your 4/10 posting and boy did that bring back memories... wonder what #88 looks like? In my opinion new#83 is nice enough, but somehow violates the integrety of this postwar community. But like your Mom would have said, time marches on. Did your friend Sally choose a restaurant for her rehearsal dinner?

Meghan said...

I am so glad that you included me to read your blog. I am enjoying it so much, especially the pictures. I cannot get over what a little lady Alexa is. I really enjoyed reading about Long Island - you know as a fellow Long Islander myself. The pictures were great!