Coincidentally, after I blogged about Capturing a Sense of Place yesterday, I received prints of my old neighborhood from a childhood friend. Despite my almost one-quarter century away from the place, the appearance of the home in which I was raised shocked me. My father had landscaped the whole yard. It now favors grass. More recent residents of the home have also removed a fence and in-ground pool. Trees in front are much larger. My favorite tree, a beautiful dogwood by my bedroom window is not only gone, but there is no trace that it was there. Even the facade of the building is different. The plot even look smaller than I remember. If my friend hadn't told me that this was my home, I would never have guessed it.
I remember when I was growing up how my mother reminisced about her old neighborhood in the Bronx. I remember passing through the area in a car and looking at burned out city buildings thinking, "This is near where mom grew up?!" And now I know somewhat how she felt though I'm sure that place was even more unrecognizable to her than my old home is to me.
I have been told that my childhood home has changed hands many times since I lived there. Some of the neighbors with whom I grew up remain. We have created a Facebook page to document our reminiscences, to share memories, and also to touch base to see where we all our now.
I remember last year reading about a town that encouraged residents to keep a house scrapbook in the front hall closet. (Unfortunately, the web page I had bookmarked for the story has been removed.)The scrapbook gets passed from old residents to new resident so that the house history always stays with the house for the next resident to see. I love this idea and think it would be a great project for local historical societies.
My neighborhood was built just a few years before my parents moved in. They told me that the area was once covered with potato farms. I now wonder what this site looked like 25 years before I arrived there in my mother's arms. I think that a little research work may be in order.
Have you documented your childhood home?
How does it differ from where you are today?
Are you in touch with former community members?
What memories do you share? How do your memories differ?
Can you combine your memories to create a resource that tells about your life?
How can you use, share, and pass this resource on to future generations?
Can you involve your local historical society in encouraging residents to create house histories that remain with the house generation after generation?