Wednesday, August 19, 2009

House of Mirthlessness

This charming residence was my father's dream home. For the rest of us, it was just a house - a giant mirthless house. When my parents decided to have their divorce remanded, it called for a fresh start. So in 1968, they went out and started to look for a new place for new life.

Remember that Shaker is predomently a place of gracious living. Then how did we end up with this dump?
Why did my father plop us down in this masterpiece of bad 1950s design?

One reason: A circular driveway.

My father felt that a house with a circular drive way was a sure sign that he had made it in life.  Never mind that the house was bland and lacked character, never mind it was all wrong for us, it was that damned driveway that he craved.

The house on South Woodland (never call it just "Woodland" - Woodland is in a bad part of Cleveland and nowhere near South Woodland) was custom built for a guy named Irving and his family in 1956. Twleve years later when my parents bought it, Irving had ended his life and his wife wanted to unload the place and get on with hers.

The house 3,000 square feet - you can host 300 people in the place and never feel it.

But compared to our old house, this one was no fun, it was just big. And its design didn't wear well through the years. When we lived there it had four bedrooms. The property card now says three bedrooms (the fourth was just a tiny room). My mother tried her best to do something with the place - my memories of the house are that it big, cold and haunted by too many ghosts.  One of my father's more insane edicts were that no pictures - save for two - should hang on the walls for fear of damaging the drywall.

What this house did for me was to forge my desire for a cozy little place. Something simple. Something without pretenious overtones.

The only person who liked this place was my father. Like so many of my father's likes and dislikes, this one too, escapes my imagination.  And there were many years when he lived in the house by himself, rattling around inside of it by himself.

Yet when I drive past it on the occasional and rare trip to Shaker Heights these days, I am torn between my revulsion for the place and by my sense of melacholia for time past, when there was hope for a different outcome.

I hope that the family that lives there today is a happy one. I've never met them.  The first owner had a bad outcome, the second owner and his family had a miserable existence.  I hope our clan wrung out every ounce of bad karma in the house. So the people who live there today should have an easier time of it.  I think that even unhappiness gets tired of itself.  Their happiness should almost be guarenteed.

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