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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Things I remember about The Mansion

As you might recall, The Mansion is what we called a very large Victorian house on O Street in Sacramento, where we lived for three years starting right after my 5th birthday. It was converted into medical/dental offices after we moved out.

The house was partially furnished with antiques and there was an old Victrola in the living room, with some records. Sometimes we'd get to play them. Most of the time, the TV was on, and our antenna had a rotor on it so we could rotate it from inside the house. Cool beans. Please don't ask my oldest brother about E-skip.

We had a full dining room that was separated from the living room by sliding wooden doors. There was a dumb waiter from the kitchen to the second floor, but we never used it. I always thought it would be a blast to try riding in it, but no such luck.

I remember standing at the very old-fashioned sink in the kitchen. I think it was aqua blue, but I could be wrong. There are no photos. That kitchen is where I learned how to make sugar toast.

I think there was a front stairway, all wood and polish, that we hardly ever used. There was a back stairway that we used instead. I remember jumping the last few steps all the time, wishing I could fly.

My grandma came and lived with us for awhile and took up the whole side-front room, which my mother called The Library. I suppose the built-in bookshelves were the reason for that. The full bathroom was between that and what was called The Study, but was really my dad's bedroom. My mother took the very back bedroom on the second floor. I remember being very surprised once when I found my mother and dad in his bed together because it was so rare.

The bathtub in the full bathroom was an antique clawfoot which my mother de-valued by painting it elaborately and gluing fake jewels all over it. She did the same thing to the bathroom walls. It was big and pink and maroon and fairly hideous. She wanted to be a hippie, I think. 

There was a laundry room off the kitchen that led to the back porch. Or maybe it was the back porch and was just closed in. There was a small stairwell that led downstairs to the basement; my dad kept a workroom down there, in the small finished part. We could go out under the rest of the house from it, which was all dirt and cobwebs and musty. One year, my mother decked it all out as a haunted house for a church Halloween party. I didn't go down there for the party, it was for the adults.

Our front porch was huge and I remember sitting on it once in awhile. I also remember my next older brother getting ahold of the movie camera and making several short films of my little brother and me, stop action; and of flowers, bees, butterflies - you name it, he filmed it. Those are in the box in storage too.

I remember sliding around on the hardwood floors in my socks with my little brother.

I remember there was one full bathroom and one water closet on the first floor; and one sink and bathtub upstairs on the second floor. 

I remember my oldest brother built a miniature golf course in the window box of his bedroom.

I remember my sister and me sharing a room for a bit before she left for the Army, and it seems to me we had a walk-in closet. I remember her dressing to go out with friends in all orange, including stockings and shoes. Possibly.

I remember the entrance to the attic was in my next oldest brother's room, which he shared with my little brother. 

I remember for awhile I had a black and white TV in my bedroom - the height of luxury, because then I could watch TV from bed, something I eventually grew out of (in my 40's).

I remember being told to clean up my room, then getting the only spanking in my life from my dad because I had just shoved everything under the bed. No joke, I was a cliche from the beginning.

I remember the back yard was huge, at least to a five-year-old, and we had to go down about 25 steps off the back porch to get to it. My dad grew purple irises and there was honeysuckle and an orange tree. When the house was converted in the mid-1970's, they paved paradise and put in a parking lot.

I remember my dad mowing the front yard by hand. With a push mower. There are home movies of me mugging the camera and imitating him.

I remember swimming in a little 2-foot wading pool in what was laughingly called a bikini. There are movies in The Odd Saga of my older brothers splashing each other and running around. 

I remember chasing bugs in a field on the corner, which is now an office complex. It's where I began a love of ladybugs and pretty much got over my fear of insects. The grass was tall; I think we were lucky there weren't any snakes in there as well.

I remember having my "boyfriend" from school come visit for a playdate. He was the baby boy in a fairly prominent Sacramento family, from what I was told. He only ever came over once.

I remember our last Christmas together as a family. My parents blew out the stores, apparently, and there are photos of me in a brand-new blue satin robe, pretending to iron clothes with a toy iron and board. I remember figuring out there was no Santa that year, too. A few months later, my mother was moving us all to a two-bedroom house in a different part of town, where I had to share a room with her and my little brother, while my two older brothers had the other bedroom.

I remember running downstairs to my daddy in the basement, because I had asked where he was going to sleep in the new house and my mother told me he wasn't coming with us. 

I remember for years after we moved out, whenever I dreamed at night of home, it was The Mansion that filled my head.

I don't remember everything about living there, but what I mostly remember is I was happy, when the family was still a family and I was young enough to believe it would be that way forever. The home movie that was my life, and which, childlike, I believed God was watching while eating a bag of popcorn, was mostly perfect.

I'm not sure I wasn't right.

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