The house on Kent Street

FOF sister, Shelley, and I took the train to Hartford, CT. yesterday, so we could check out an event called the Women’s Expo. On the way to the Expo Center, I asked the taxi driver if he’d  stop at Kent Street. That’s where my grandma Rosie and grandpa Sam lived when I was growing up and I have fond memories of my visits. There were two types of excursions, either a weekend visit with my parents and two sisters or alone for an extended stay.

At the train station

I slept in grandma’s living room, on the odd-shaped forties sofa, when the whole family traveled. The makeshift “bed” wasn’t especially comfortable, but  still, I loved making myself all cozy on a cold winter Saturday night, while all the grownups sat around the dining room table gabbing about goodness-knows-what and having coffee and cake.

I slept in a real bedroom when I visited my grandparents, sans family, often over Christmas vacation. One holiday, grandma and I were consumed with finding an outline map of Europe, because I had ruined the one I was supposed to color in for my homework project. I was in 6th grade. After we traipsed over every street and into dozens of stores in downtown Hartford, with no success, we returned home, where I sat in her big kitchen, distraught. How would I ever be able to do my project?

It suddenly occurred to grandma that her cousin, a teacher, might have an outline map. Happily, he did. When I brought it into the kitchen to start my coloring, grandpa suggested that he do it for me. He had artistic talent, so I gladly agreed. Grandpa used a different watercolor for each country and wrote in their names with his beautiful printing. I gazed at the map for years. I wish I had kept it.

When the taxi driver stopped today in front of grandma’s house, I looked up at the living room windows and thought about my nights on the sofa, just beyond them. I also thought about how much my grandparents loved me. The last time I saw the house was about 35 years ago, when my widowed grandma moved to New York to be near her daughter (my mother) and her son. The street looked as I remembered it and the house was repainted and in good shape.

Grandma's living room windows are the ones behind the satellite contraption

Hartford is a dramatically different city than it was a half century ago. When we reached the Expo Center, Shelley turned to me and said: “I imagined that we’d go into grandma’s house and she’d be there.”

Maybe she is.

 

2 Responses to “The house on Kent Street”

  1. Toby Wollin says:

    My mom died in 2006 and after months of sorting, throwing away, giving away, and general frantic cleaning, we sold the house. We must have priced it right because it literally sold within 24 hours. Once the closing happened, I never went back. Even when I pass through the city I grew up in, I steel myself NOT to pass that house. It’s someone else’s house now, filled with their new things and memories. It is not ‘my’ house any more. My sister is very disappointed in me that I don’t – she’s asked me about whether we stop by all the time because after they sold their first house, she’d plan her commuting route so that she’d pass the old house to see what the new owners were doing with it. Several months after the closing had taken place, she passed the house to find construction equipment there, bulldozing it down. The people who had bought the house, who had been so anxious to have their ‘wonderful’ little house, basically had only wanted it because the lot was huge. They took down the house and built a much larger house which takes up the entire lot. No back yard with a swing set for children, no room for a little garden. Just a strip of grass around the house. She was devastated and upset for months. I told her to let it go – once we sell houses, they no longer belong to US. Move on.

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