Saturday, July 13, 2019

I Lived Here

This is getting bizarre. I wasn't sure about the address. After all, I left this place when I was three or four years old, but some numbers came back to me, and when I plugged them in, up popped this duplex. Sure enough, it's where I lived with my mother and sister in 1951. Not sure when we moved in. Nor am I quite sure when we moved to the other side of the tracks* -- either 1951 or 52. I remember that in 1953 we moved to Los Angeles County. This duplex is in Santa Barbara County.

The exterior is almost exactly as I remember it. The colors are the same. The windows are different, the front doors are solid --they were multi-pane glass when I was a kid -- and the fence and overhead on the left side (the side we lived in) weren't there, but otherwise it's remarkably preserved.

The interior is a different matter. It's been so radically renovated that I barely recognize anything. It almost looks like it's been made into a four-plex rather than the duplex it had been, but I can't tell for sure, and the listing states a duplex with two two bedroom one bath units. The interior photos, however, are very confusing with bathrooms opening off living rooms and kitchens tucked into odd corners, nothing at all like the place I remember fairly well after all these years.

The trouble is there's another house down the street -- two bedroom, one bath single family home that strongly resembles this duplex -- where I think we lived before we moved to this place. Or possibly after. My memory is scrambled when it comes to these houses. I distinctly remember living in a duplex but the picture I have in my mind's eye is not this one -- although we definitely lived here. It's a duplex on another street and my memory of it is quite dreadful. It was tiny, stinky and dark. This one is quite light  especially in the morning for it faces east.

The house down the street is similar, but it is laid out differently. The bedrooms in that house, for example, are on the right side with a bathroom in between. There's a living room, dining room and kitchen on the left side. There's a fireplace in the living room. All of which I remember, and none of which are/were in this duplex. So I don't know what's going on. It's possible that we didn't live in the house down the street, but I stayed there during the day while my mother worked. But maybe not..

I don't know.

This is the house down the street I remember:

There was a big field behind it. Maybe we lived there briefly before moving to the duplex or maybe it was the other way around.

The confusion is part of the reason why I'm working on a mapping project as an artistic way to remember or forget. I've lived in so many places in my life, and honestly, I don't remember half of them, or if I do, it's just snapshots divorced from locations.

We'll see if another one turns up in a real estate listing.

*the tracks mostly aren't there any more, but like most California agricultural towns, the railroad was critically important to moving produce and people and for the development of the town and region.  In this case, the tracks which ran north and south divided the town in two. West of the tracks was Tigertown, very much a working class area of very modest homes and industrial/equipment plants. East of the tracks was something better, whiter, and much more at ease.  When we lived in the duplex above, we lived just west of the tracks -- close enough for me to hear the whistles and the clanging bells in the morning, but not quite close enough to see the engines and cars passing by.

Living in Tigertown didn't bother me, but then I was three, what did I know? Moving across the tracks was more of a culture shock than one might think for a white boy, but there you are. Certain assumptions were made by our new neighbors since we had come from "over there" and given the fact that my mother wasn't married, well, you can just imagine...

Again, though, it's another story for another time.

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