Wednesday, April 22, 2009

So Much Better Than TV!

Today, we got this three page letter from a granddaughter of the original owner of our house. Before I share this piece of history, let me tell you a bit about our connection with this particular house.

Leo's family bought this house in 1985, and as a couple, Leo and I have lived in the back house since mid-2007 and rent the main front home. So, knowing that, here goes the letter:
"...while visiting last Christmas, I took a walk to you house....I had not seen it in years. You have beautiful landscaping in front (ehem - that's Leo's handiwork), and I can tell that you have made some improvements.

"You see, this house had been in my family from about 1924 to 1975. The house was owned by my grandparents. Enclosed is a picture of my dad, taken in front of the house in February 1944, shortly after he graduated from the Navy's boot camp and was shipped off, first to Hawaii, then to the Japanese theater at the conclusion of WWII.

By the way, this is the sweetest letter, and it brought tears to my eyes. A year and a half ago, we actually got a visit from either this writer's aunt or mother, who stopped by to see how the house had changed. Leo actually gave her a tour of our back house (the front wasn't available for viewing exactly) and she explained to us where the "Murphy bed" had been, and how big the original house really was - turns out this back house has been added into twice since her father, the writer's grandfather, had built it.
"My grandparents met in Bavaria where they were born in 1890 and grandfather got a job as a baker on a ship between Hamburg and New York. He jumped ship - literally - in New York around 1910...He encouraged my grandmother to come for a visit to New York. She saved her money, and she almost had enough saved to sail on the Titanic. She was disappointed she couldn't afford it, but later of course, it was a blessing in disguise.

"They got married and...migrated the "Wild West" of Montana...and moved farther west to Long Beach in about 1923. My grandfather opened a bakery (long since torn down) and from the profits of his thriving bakery, he bought the house around 1924 for $1000.

"Before refrigerators, the lower kitchen cabinets had a metal mesh screen to allow the cool air to circulate. This is where they kept perishable things such as milk, eggs, butter, etc. One cabinet was converted to an old fashioned ice box. An ice box was delivered daily and placed beneath that one cupboard, under the house. Also, especially during Prohibition, my grandfather loved his beer, so he made his own. My grandmother and the kids helped cap the bottles of "green beer" and they stored (perhaps "hid" is a better word) them in the ice box under the kitchen.

"I was told stories about bottles blowing their caps at odd times, especially during the warmer months, which sent everyone into a panic worrying about being discovered!"

Isn't this the sweetest letter? I definitely can't get over the $1000 part. I just totally love the photo, too! Wait till I get Leo to pose the same way (sans the navy uniform) right in that same spot!

The letter actually was dropped at the house while Leo and I were in the garage and he was putting up MY shelves! Yes, they are for me! He put them up using brackets and some pine, and after everything was set, I went ahead and put up my little "island" lights!

And then I dragged my mac in there to complete the transformation - but only for an hour or two. Since the garage is partially insulated - only one wall is 3/4 insulated, it is COLD in the winter and dang HOT in the summer. And right now, since the temps dropped really fast after the 98 degree days we just had, it's cold!

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