Saturday, September 18, 2010

It didn't have purple stripes on it then.

Our first rental in Madison. We came out here to visit and find a place to live in spring of 69'. We didn't have much more than a weekend to find a place. By midday we were snapping at each other and not to happy with our situation. Zeus left his favorite pen in a telephone booth and was unhappy. I was disappointed by the places we had seen. I don't remember how we came to be in the Union looking at some information board but there was a list of housing opportunities for students posted. We read the ad, three bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen and basement. It never said it was a house. We thought it would be huge and really expensive.
It was huge for a couple that pulled, all their worldly belongings in the smallest attached U-haul trailer, Blue Beetle, one 6 month puppy, from Boston to Wisconsin.
The rent was unbelievably cheap.
The owners lived in the house next door and shared a driveway with our house.
The owned and operated a cabinet shop behind their house.
They liked us. We were amazed and excited, a WHOLE HOUSE.

Of course, the reality hit us when we arrived, tired, hungry and poor at our new door.
No furniture.
A puppy, we had forgotten to mention, to our new landlords, what if they said NO PETS!

We were pretty stupid kids.

Turns out we had the greatest landlords. They loved Sarah. The wife took me back to the extended garage, which was piled full of furniture and sorted us out. We acquired, on loan, a green sofa with worn cushions, which she pointed out were perfectly good on the bottom side and didn't that black and white checkered fabric just really give that couch some punch?

We also moved a dark brown Victorian style, heavy as a backhoe, horsehair couch up to the second floor. Sarah though it was perfect for her new bed.

We painted the rooms, I'm not sure we even asked permission. We just blindly did things and our indulgent landlords smiled at us. One room was blindingly bright yellow and we found an incredible rug remnant, bright orange that just made that room. Made it what I'm not sure but it sure was bright. I think that was my space.

Zeus had the other bedroom for his study. Painted a soft green, Sarah spent time during the day staring out the windows in that room at the street, in front of the house. Watching the factory guys coming outside during their breaks to have a smoke. She also could see Sid, her favorite person, sitting on his front porch, smoking his cigars.

Sid was an artist. He and Sarah seemed to bond the minute they met. He would stand on his side of the street and talk to her and she would lay on the terrace, paws hanging over the curb and talk back to him.

By the time we met Sid he had come to that time of life when we was making LARGE CEMENT things in his backyard. I mean HUGE, HEAVY CEMENT THINGS and most of them were either Buddha or nudes. When it was time for the piece to be moved to it's spot in his tiny little city back yard he would call on all the neighbors to come and help move it.

Long after we had moved from this house, Zeus met up with Sid, then a very old man and went back to his house to visit with him. Sid offered him some stew, something he said had been sitting on his stove for a number of days, getting better with age.
Zeus wisely declined.

Sid showed him his dining room that he had been working on painting the ceiling, it was full of nudes.

You can drive around the East side of Madison and see some of Sid's statues in parks. Not the nudes. I think they are still in the backyard of his old house. But, some of the other ones are around town.

I drove by the old house when Hayden was visiting. The railroad tracks behind the house are gone now replaced with a bike path. The big old Catholic church on the corner no longer rings its tower bell to call the locals to mass because the newer folks moving into the neighborhood said it was to loud and noisy. They said that about the train too and they keep saying it about the factory across the street. The factory has had testers come and announce that their noise levels are safe. That still doesn't make the new comers happy.

We were young, we were excited to even have a place to live. We walked the train tracks with Sarah, we heard the trains go by at night, Saturday evening and Sunday we were comforted by the ringing of the bells for church and the factory? It just was. Just like the planes that went overhead from the nearby airport. It was part of where we lived.

We were so young.

:)Bea Who managed to clean up her creating space to create again.


  1. lovely, interesting post. I also remember being that young...

  2. Anonymous7:51 AM

    Some of your post really took me back, Bea, made me recall our younger days as married students in Oklahoma, and how exciting it was to find a jewel of a place to rent. I've never been back to see what things look like now, but it would be fun!

  3. When I think back on all of the places I've lived over the years - some good and some not so good - the memories are there and they are all good, or funny, or crazy. I keep thinking I ought to write it down before I forget it all.

  4. I forgot all about Sid. I remember he used to always have a big cigar in his mouth, but never lit? Funny how Sarah took to him, they must have liked each other's aura.

  5. Sometimes change is good, other times not so good. Loved this look back on your first place that held so many wonderful memories for you.

  6. Bea, what a great post. I read this with the thought that right this very moment my youngest (girl) is out looking for her first place. sigh. The innocence of it all tugs at my heart.

  7. Hi Bea, I remember this house from a different story, although this story is about other things...I love your stories :)
    I live in the same town I grew up in...The train only goes by a couple times a week now...I miss it. We still have the church bells.
    But the fire sirens go about six or seven times a day...the new developement has a lot of faulty burgler alarms...The fire trucks scream through our side of town, turn around and scream back to the station, two blocks from our house.
    The only thing I would want to steal from these new people is their burgler alarms!


  8. Another beautiful post Bea. Lovely to see your first home. I was with you there and how lucky to have such helpful and friendly landlords. I guess you spent some super times there with your little dog and Zeus.