Now this was a definite kick in the pants. Anne and I have been looking at houses for sale off and on as of late as we’re hoping to use our income tax return next spring to put a down payment on a home and get the hell out of this apartment. Last night I was kicking around on Home Quarters Real Estate cause I’ve seen the ad a lot on TV lately and I figured I’d give them a shot. After awhile of looking at listings in places where I’d like to live I got the notion to look at listings in Pontiac, which is where I grew up.
For those of you not familiar with south eastern Michigan, Pontiac is like a smaller version of Detroit in being mainly an urban city with some decent sections here and there. The street I grew up on (Meadowlawn Drive) in the north-western section of the city had more than its share of hillbillies on it, which only makes sense when you consider my father was a hillbilly himself. The house was a three bedroom ranch of the smaller stater-home variety common in automotive orientated cities which got a little bigger when my family all came together at some time in the 70’s to build an addition onto it in the form of a big family room and an attached garage. Compared to the home we would eventually move to in Orion in 1984, the Pontiac house was pretty damned dinky yet I don’t recall ever thinking of it as such at the time. The house sat on a lot one spot over from the cross street of Meadowlawn and Fairmont and the lot on the corner right next to my home was empty. We used to call that lot “The Field.”
The empty lot was owned by the folks who lived right behind it and they kept it mowed and left it as a place for the kids in the neighborhood to play. There were two rows of trees stretching the length of the lot dividing it into thirds and there was a big circle path that surrounded the trees that had been worn by countless go-carts and minibikes that we kids would ride in the lot. We’d play baseball there, fly kites, set off fireworks were weren’t supposed to have and play with our pop can cannons (our take on the so-called potato guns).
So I’m cruising around on the real estate listings and I’m seeing some houses in and around my old neighborhood and they’re selling for well less than $100,000. Not surprising considering the town itself, but the very last listing that comes up is a home selling for around $149,500 and the photo looks surprisingly familiar.
It should, it’s the home of the Evjans who owned the lot next to my house that we had all those years of fun in. I’ve probably misspelled their last name, but it’s my best guess.
Cindy and I used to play with their kids, Victor and Heather, who were considerably younger than we were, but still fun to hang out with none-the-less. I can remember talking with their father, Don, about the lot he owned and why he never sold it or built anything on it. He told me that as long as he was alive it would always be available to the kids of the neighborhood to play in. I sent an email to my sister with the link to the listing as she’s kept in better contact with the old neighborhood than I have. Here’s what she said:
- Yep, Heather and Jeanette have lived there alone since Don died and Victor got married. Jeanette spends most of her time in Florida and Heather lives with her boyfriend so they decided it was time to sell. It’s still in great shape on the inside, it’s the outside that is falling apart.
It was a wonderful home as I recall. Four bedrooms, two bathrooms, lots of space. Victor and I used to build spaceships out of Lego’s and toss them down the stairway from the second floor pretending that space mission after space mission was going horribly wrong. Lego spaceships tend to fly apart in a most spectacular way when tossed down a stairway like that.
There’s a part of me that would love to own the home, but it’s in Pontiac and the school system is one I have first hand knowledge of. It’s sad in a way to think that the home will be sold soon and that empty lot may suddenly find itself being developed, but I hold out hope for the kids living in the neighborhood today. I noted with some amusement that the price of the home goes up by ten grand if the buyer doesn’t want the lot behind it as well. Maybe whoever buys it will hear the story of how Don and Jeanette left it undeveloped so the kids would have a place to play. Perhaps they’ll hear about all the joy an empty field brought to so many kids for the small price of an occasional lawn mowing by Don.
Maybe, just maybe they’ll decide to become the next custodians for the field of my childhood. If it could’ve been me I know I’d be happy to take on that role.