My childhood home, Ft. Smith Arkansas
As I am told, we lived in a rented house until I was born, and a few months afterwards, my parents purchased an old house on a hill in Ft. Smith. It was the only home I ever knew, and it was, for me, my kingdom!
The house sits on a corner, in Ft. Smith Arkansas, on North 13th are R Streets, and the property actually occupies two and a half lots, with a small rental house on the side street. It was that house where my dreams were born. In that yard I learned to ride my bike--first with training wheels and then later, when I got a sense of balance, I rode the real bicycle that I got for Christmas when I was eight.
The sidewalk on the front below the hill was where I learned to skate, and where I would draw the hopskotch markings and entertain myself. And I got plenty of skinned knees on that walk way. I also recall that many times the sidewalk on the entire street would be wet on a very dry day--stemming from an underground spring said to be someplace in the vicinity.
The sidewalk in front of house
For many years, we had a garage in the back--where I would sometimes get my nerve to walk upstairs and look at the old relics of the past-- including my old baby bed, discarded pieces of furniture, and memorabilia that I only wish that I had now. But it was later taken down and a car port was added to the back of the house instead.
The property at one time had lots of trees and shrubs---including my favorite plum tree that I used to climb and feel that I was on top of the world. A pecan tree and the plum tree provided shade in the backyard, in the hot humid summer. The side of the property had two massive elm trees, with two beautiful lilac bushes that always made spring so beautiful--not the mention the jonquils that would miraculously appear between our house and the small rental house on the side. Today the only remnants are one elm tree, one tree stump, and the old walnut tree that is immediately next to the little rental house on the side street.
Gone are the many trees and shrubs
The house was my place of refuge, and in my mind--my way to explore the world. Inside was the entrance foyer, a room to the left side was the front bedroom--my parents room. To the right, the living room, with french sliding doors separating it from the dining room with a built in china closet. The kitchen was in the rear, and my brother's bedroom was off the kitchen, and my own bedroom was in the back off another small hallway.
There, my dreams were made. My joys, and my imagination were filled with books, and music from classical to jazz. In the living room the piano was there, during my 10 years of classical piano lessons, but I much preferred music from my parents' record collections. When I was not listening to music, I was reading, and as much as I loved to be in that old house, because of the books that I read, I knew that I had to get out of the house, get out of the town and see the world that I had come to long for through the many books I read.
This was the place that soothed my soul.
When my mother died in 1997, the spirit of that house began to fade. Once her presence was gone, I knew that my own ties were fading. She had kept the spirit of my dad there, and once she left, I knew that a chapter was closing.
I look with memory at that house on the hill, and smile for it was a place that nourished me, that cradled me, and protected me, and that house on the hill planted seeds for me to go forth and see the world.
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