As my friend and Friday golf partner always says, Father time is undefeated. It’s a phrase bandied about in sports more than anything. Athletes get old, skills diminish, the wear and tear becomes more visible. They become a shell of what they once were. As I approach 50 years old it becomes more painfully obvious sports has no monopoly on this condition.
But take heart, this is no woe is me I’m an old man screed. My golf game is better now than it was 10 years ago. Nope, this is just a miss-mash of revelations that occurred to me on the drive back to Knoxville TN, my current home, from the Jersey Shore and the home where I grew up. And as is the custom, if it occurs to me I tell it to you.
So here’s to the tellin. 50 Years a Memory: Where did the time go?
July 4th weekend was a big deal. Aside from our nation’s deceleration some 241 years ago, it was on this date July 4th 1967, construction was complete and my family moved into the only house I ever knew. One month and 16 days later I was born. Three years and three months later my little sister and the last of the eight Linardo children of Frank and Marie was born. Yep, eight of us in there. Plus parents, plus my dad’s mother eventually. That’s 11 people, 3 adults and 8 kids, if you’re scoring at home.
And until someone buys it, only one family has ever lived there. Us. Here we all are in 1973(?). With a photo bomb by our house.
I’m the tiny dude up front wearing horizontal stripes way before they were in style. It appears I’m also wearing my trusty one rig holster complete with an ivory handled six shooter. Well, it’s Jersey after all.
Now the distinguished lady in the back right is my mom’s mom; Granma McEntee. She was just visiting from Phila. Lots of history and memories standing there. Some faces are gone but most are still here.
The house, well the house remains. But as hard as it is to contemplate, it’s on the market. At some point in this year I would imagine, another family other than us will live there. Weird really. That’s just not the standard anymore. So it’s weird to think about us being the only people to ever live in that house.
You might be able to tell from the first picture the house is losing to father time. No different than anyone or anything else really. We all feel the effects sooner or later. For 50 years old and the wear and tear it’s still in great shape. Yeah it’s got some age marks, but those are some righteous age marks. The phrase if walls could talk would be appropriate here. But I bet the can could say much more. The can? That’s South Jersey speak for the bathroom.
You, my friends, are looking at the one and only bathroom in that house. I took that picture when I was home this past June. Almost 50 years after it was built. Numbers are important. Eleven people, three adults, eight kids, all using/sharing that. Did I mention five of those eights kids were girls. I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin. That’s a sturdy room.
Now lest some of my kin jump needlessly, there is a half bath downstairs. Referred to then as a powder-room. But that amounts to a toilet and sink in what could generously be described as a water closet. That joint could tell some stories too. But not like the main hub of the house.
No the main bathroom is where it all started every morning. From my dad rolling out to work at 5am, to my sisters hogging the shower, to my brother yelling The bus is at the corner! when it really wasn’t, just to see the mayhem and maybe clear a space for his own assault on the can.
I remember coming out of the shower only to see my glasses lenses covered with shaving cream and all manner of insults, also in my dad’s shaving cream, scrolled across the double mirror. I can remember my brothers yelling through the door from the hallway and my sisters, some of them anyway, yelling right back from the high ground; inside the bathroom.
From there the action always moved to the stairs. Either my brothers running down and out the front door trying to escape the wrath of my older sisters, usually with an old hunk of hot-wheels track in hand, or me and my little sister using our blankets wrapped around the rail to ride to the bottom.
Look at those stairs. You can almost see the history in the treads beneath the carpet. When I was a kid the rail was black wrought iron. Same rail, now white. It’s a testament to the manufacturing how well that damn thing held up. Yeah man the house is 50 years old, but they truly don’t make em like that anymore. Our house was put to the test daily for almost half a century and it’s still solid.
Now it’s empty. Sort of. Fifty years is a lot of memories but it’s a lot of stuff too. That stuff has to be dealt with. I’m a bit conflicted of being 660 miles away at this moment in history. I would love to be there going through all the stuff and reliving things. But then again I’m pretty lazy and that seems like a crap ton of work. My little sister, the warden as we call her, is on the job. The whole gang except me really has been going at it for some time now trying to get it ready to sell. Like expert archeologists they tackle one layer at a time.
The pics my sister sends me are great. Talk about memories. The tractor in the pic below is older than me I think. A little worse for wear, I believe this was unearthed from the downstairs attic. Yes kids, in those days houses of that type were built with an upstairs and downstairs attic. It’s amazing to see the pics sides by side. At least to me it is anyway.
Appropriately my trusty old tractor is sitting next to an Amazon Prime box.When Frank saw this picture he thought it was of him. Father time is indeed undefeated.
No Frank that’s not you. You are looking at your old man, way back when, younger than you are now, sitting on a tractor thing that still works, in front of a house that’s as sturdy as ever.
When the new people move in, and the carpets pulled, and the walls painted, and the memories erased, the dust will fly. There is a history in that dust. Those floors bear our existence. Those walls hold our jelly stained fingerprints. The stairs contain the drum beat of eight kids growing up.
In that dust, in the commotion of remaking old into new, lies the story of us.
Great memories. Remember when ur Mom was expecting u & moved into this house. I bet the realtor wud love this story. It wud b great selling point!
Well said Fran, Well said. I do enjoy reading your blog. But this one hit home for me. Especially being part of a larger family myself.
Thanks John. Appreciate that man. Nothing like growing up in a big Italian family at the Jersey Shore.
I am blessed to have set foot in your family’s house!!! And to hear bits of history of how the Linardo’s “managed” to survive in it!!! Great stuff Fran!
Thanks Tom. Can’t imagine a house that size now. Crazy the way things have evolved.
Beautiful Fran. Thank you.
Thanks Aunt Clare.
thanks for sharing this piece of your life with us. As I was reading it, I thought what if these walls could talk. Fun read!
I’m not crying, you’re crying!
Not gonna lie. I choked up once or twice writing it.
Nicely done Fran. I have to admit I got pretty choked up reading this. So many memories flooding in as we go thru all the stuff.
Thanks. Yeah same here.
Great post! I can relate. My did built the house I grew up in over a 16-month period. I was a year old when we moved in. Two years ago, my wife and I moved in with our almost one-year old son 50 years later. You stirred some memories and I’ve wondered what happens when another family moves in, somewhere in the future.
Thanks. Appreciate the read.
I got very sad reading this.