Thursday, September 08, 2005

My Childhood Helena---The East Side Victorians

The following homes are in the neighborhood where I grew up and I am intimately familiar with them. To this day I am able to visualize the interiors with the ornate and extensive woodwork and fancy staircases. As a child, my dream was to be able to live in one of these houses. As my life marches on, this is probably not to be. All of these homes have been refurbished and preserved, thankfully.

1.Haunted House
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Main House

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Carriage house

This is the scary one a block away from our little house. I had to walk by it on dark cold winter nights on the way home from my piano lessons and my imagination went wild. The windows of the carriage house are still broken out and it still gives me the creeps even in broad daylight. My brother spent a lot of time inside playing with the boy who lived there with his Grandmother.

2. My Lie
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A large family lived in this house for a short time when I was little. At the time, the place was falling apart but it was still fun to pretend in the large top floor rooms. Two of the children, Mary Catherine and Mary Elizabeth, thought I was spoiled because I had more dolls than they did. They talked to each other in pig Latin and for some reason they assumed I wouldn't understand "oiled--spay". They managed to convince me to lie to my Dad one summer evening when I was not supposed to leave our yard. I do not remember my lie but I remember my Dad's cold disappointment in me. I was so ashamed. Never again did I play with these girls.

3. The Halloween Party
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This home was immediately behind my house across the narrow alley. Interestingly, we never went in and out of these places through the massive front doors. The back doors we would run in and out of were always from the kitchens into the alleys. The first family that we knew in this home was one of my favorites. The parents were a combination of Turkish and Greek and at least for one of them, I believe English was a second language. They had two boys--one older and one younger than me and two German Shepherds. Sometimes, they would go to our church because Episcopal was the closest thing Helena had to Orthodox without being Roman Catholic. What I remember was that the Mom was a doctor and it was unusual in those days for a Mom to work let alone be a physician. My Mom really liked her. I played with these boys a lot and what I specifically remember is that they were scary smart.

They had the best parties. I remember going to a terrific Halloween party and when I have talked about it, my husband says, "Hey, I was at that party, too!" Small world. Unfortunately, they moved away before high school. The older boy was named Tony Markellis and I have discovered he has become a rather successful and well-known music producer and bassist. Who knew? [Edit: This is completely unbelievable but Lucas tells me that Trey Anastasio headlined at Seattle's Bumbershoot over this past weekend and Lucas, of course, took them in. Shockingly according to google, Tony Markellis is the bassist in Trey Anastasio's band. Wow! What a small world. Lucas's Mom and Dad went to elementary school with him.]
The next family that moved in had two little boys. I was asked to babysit often. The Mom was an interior designer and she did wonders with the inside of this place. I loved spending time there but I have distinct memories of trying to stay awake at three in the morning staring at the test pattern. These houses, with their Halloween parties, dark corners, and strange noises scared me in the middle of the night. Test patterns kept the shadows at bay.

.....to be continued.