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Lake Oswego House



With the help of the G.I. Bill, my parents built this house in Lake Oswego, Oregon in 1946, after Dad returned from World War II.

There were two bedrooms upstairs, one for me and one for my great Aunt Edith who lived with us then. There was a large backyard where Mom grew vegetables and in the summers we set up a badminton game. Beyond the yard was a dense woods for me to play in.

I remember the day my Dad planted the hedge in front, telling me that someday the individual shrubs would grow together and look like one big plant. And so it does today.

When the house was built, Lake Oswego (then named Lake Grove), was a modest suburb of Portland populated by ordinary, middle-class people, many who were newcomers like my family, with young children and infants – the first of the baby boomers. When I visited Portland in the summer of 2007, my brother and I drove past the house. It was shocking.

The house, which in my childhood matched others in the neighborhood in general style and size, is the smallest on the street now, and shabby. The paint is peeling, the plantings are untrimmed and the lawn is overgrown with weeds. It almost looks abandoned.

It is surrounded these days by large McMansions that sell in the millions of dollars. I neglected to take a photo, but the house across the street - a small bungalow in the late 1940s where a playmate lived - has been replaced by a sprawling behemoth that is magnificent enough for a movie star.

No doubt my family’s little home, 60 years old now, will soon be replaced by something more grand.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Norm Jenson tells of an nearly forgotten catchphrase surprising resurrected in an elevator, in Good Night, Agnes.]


I can imagine how you must have felt to see the home of your memories in such disrepair. A year ago for the first time in about fifty years I visited the house in which I was born. The house seemed quite non-descript from what I had remembered, but was reasonably well kept. The other houses on our street seemed far less impressive, too -- small in size and unattractive. I prefer to remember the house and neighborhood as I've held it in my memory all these years.

I read it in my country, korea.
it is very exciting and miracle.
my English is very poor, but i will continue visiting your home.. and will read your story..
have a nice day and i wish your good health.

Ronnie, once again you bring back memories. My childhood home looks exactly like this and my much loved grandmother's home. In my child eyes they were so much grander then they appear now. My childhood home was in Michigan and I now live in Nashville where my grandmothers home is located. When I made a special trip to see it I could not believe they way it looked. So small and shabby. I remember the flowers, hedge around the front, large tree in front where I had a swing, the small vegetable garden.
I remember the swing on the front porch where she would brush my hair and we would hear the night sounds before we went to bed. My happiest childhood memories were in this little home. My parents were teenagers and my grandmother worried about me and would make a special trip to Detroit to bring me back to her home in Tennessee. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Have a wonderful day.

Reading such stories and seeing such homes -- rich with memories, most of them tender and life-giving -- brings to mind ALWAYS the classic, The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton. This tome for preschoolers is old enough for me to have treasured it as a child and to have read it to all my head start students and to have stocked their libraries with copies when I was professionally engaged in such worthy pursuits. Just thinking about the book and picturing the wonderful illustrations brings comfort that lessens the pain of decay, deterioration, and forsaking of roots and values untarnished by greed and showing off.

See more on the book —

Amazon's description

Thomas Wolfe said you cannot go back. I should have listened. I grew up in an unconventional home. It was the living quarters at the end of a big lodge building which served as the office of a very large cottage court and trailer park. There were also four houses in our property at the back of the court and the whole acreage was at the mouth of Red Rock Canyon. At various times in my life I lived in 3 of the houses. When I returned to Colorado Springs for my High School's 50th reunion my friend drove me past it. All but a front strip of ground was buried under tons of dirt that was now the freeway going up Ute Pass. A Safeway store now stands where the Lodge was. It was horribly depressing to see. I felt like my childhood had been buried.

I go back to Lake Oswego every so often because it also holds a lot of memories for me. In 1967, we bought our first home in Lake Grove. It was on a little side street off Boones Ferry, not too far from the small stores. One of the last times I went back, there was a huge townhouse development that had taken over our street, very ritzy, big brick homes. I didn't have the heart to drive up the street and see if the small ranch house was still there at the end of what had been our cul-de-sac.

The same thing happened to the home in which I grew up which was in the hills out of Camas, Washington. I used to literally dream I could buy back that 80 acre farm on a dead-end, gravel road. Then one time I drove back and it had been remodeled, a road went into the hills behind it and the whole acreage had been turned into mini-estates. I never again dreamed of retrieving it.

Because I still live in the area I grew up in, I can visit old home places and towns of my childhood.

A few months ago on a warm Sunday morning, Kman and I drove to the little sleepy town of Poolvile, about 50 miles west of Cowtown. My mother taught school there and we lived in the teacherage. The house is still there, right across the street from the very old Baptist Church where I attended Girl's Auxillary and took piano lessons from the preacher's wife - Mrs. Redwine.

We parked the car and in the quiet of the summer morning breeze, we could hear the church congregation singing a hymn. For a few minutes, I could easily pretend it was 1963.

Such a strange feeling it always is, trying to reconcile our special places in the heart to present day realities and change.

I haven't seen my childhood homes since the 50's and 60's, so I imagine I probably wouldn't recognize them either.
It's a shame that so much has to change and even sadder is the fact it's usually NOT for the better. That was a great looking house in it's day, Ronni. Even in the photo it had a feeling of comfort and love.

I was so happy to see your post today. I wondered if you went back to Lake Grove on your recent trip. I grew up in Lake Grove as well. What street was your house on? Our first house was on Burma Road and our second house was on Douglas Circle. It looks just like your house. Did you enjoy your visit that day, or did it break your heart? What grade school did you go to?

Annie: the house is on Canal Circle. I don't remember where I went to school - geez, I have no memory of it at all except for big, fat Brenda who beat up on me and terrorized me about my red raincoat and made me cry.

It didn't break my heart to see the house. Time goes by - did I just say that? - and things change. I felt bad for the little house - that its owners haven't taken care of it.

I just love little houses. They were comfortable and though me and my siblings had to (gasp) share a room and sometimes a bed, it was fine for our needs. I remember driving past large houses and my parents saying how expensive they must be to heat. Well, now that heating fuel has gone through the roof, lovely little houses might just come back into fashion.

My grandparents moved from the city of Montreal to the suburbs in such a home as yours. They kept the place up so well the thirty or forty years they lived in the house. I drove by, ten years after they had died and was shocked at the shabby state the subsequent owners allow it to become. Homes are so much like people; they deserve a bit of love, care, and dignity.

The same think has happened in my old neighborhood. Our cottage looks about the same from the front, but I could see that there has been an addition on the back of the house. The thing that struck me was that the house seemed so much smaller than it did when I was a child. lol

On my old blog, I posted some of the homes I lived in as a child, and most of them are in areas that are now changing or have changed over the years. It makes me sad to see the places I loved so much run down and facing demolotion.

I grew up in a similar house in Toledo. I was 4 when my parents built it in 1951. Funny thing is the owners now still paint it the the way my mother did love gardening as much as she did because her flower beds were still a riot of color. I wanted to knock on the door to see if they'd send me to my room.

I feel the loss of old homes almost like I feel the loss of a friend. Maybe because my childhood home was taken by eminent domain and burned to the ground to make room for a town sewage plant. It left me feeling sort of rootless.

For us life has come full circle. I grew up in a one bedroom apartment in Chicago, my partner in a house in Wisconsin very similar to yours, Ronni. Now, in our 70's, we moved to a small house in a neighborhood of small houses in Columbus, Ohio. There are many young singles, people just starting families and some of us Elders. It is plenty for us again.

My parents grew up in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and their homes and farms are completely gone. How sad for upscale Lake Oswego. Does cause us to dwell on the places of our past. My childhood home in Whittier is much-changed yet my parents still dwell in the split level ranch style house of my teen years. Now that home keeps company with grown sequoias and many native plants. It will be be a big life marker when my parents leave that home.

Our first house was on Buena Vista Street in Detroit. The road was shaded by arching elms and every house on the block was a different style. Ours was a miniature Tudor.
Quite a while back the trees were all cut down because of elm disease. But the biggest shock came just a few years ago when I was on a nostalgia tour. Every single house on the street was covered with aluminum siding. Must have been one heck of a salesman working there.

I grew up in Montreal;a three-floor-house with outside stairs and a private entrance on each floor, all the houses (maybe 20) sharing side walls from beginning of the street to the next corner. We knew everyone... want it or not. I felt claustrophobic just looking at it 50 years later. Yet I survive in a Toronto high-rise!!

I live just up the street from (I've lived here for over thirty-five years) your former residence and wanted to let you know about some of the changes taking place in our neighborhood. There was an older couple that lived in the house for many years until the wife passed away. Within the last year the husband moved into an assisted living establishment and the home was purchased by a younger couple. They have freshened up the interior of the home, cleaned the yard, and have painted it. Unfortunately, I have not met them yet and give you no new additional information about them.

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