Old house hides memories

Under the circumstances, it seems appropriate that the piped in music consists of songs like – Glenn Miller’s “American Patrol.” or Vaughn Monroe’s “When the Lights Go On Again, All Over The World.” That is, after all, the music that most of them danced to, as young adults. Like my father, a huge number of the men in this building also marched off with it ringing through their heads. ( Not a unique phenom. My memories of Desert Storm are always sound tracked to “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “Proud To Be An American.”)

I am, for the first time, visiting the retirement community to which my parents have moved. Yesterday we went back, my father and I, to the house which is no longer theirs, which will belong to someone else just as soon as they, meaning my parents, can unload it. We needed to make sure it is functional for an open house which the realtor has scheduled for Sunday.

Devoid of furniture, devoid actually of anything, it is an ambiguous place, a shell with memories.

This was the room which my brother and I shared as we grew up. Looking out a fairsized picture window, I still see the trees which, growing up, I took for granted. I assumed, until a certain age, that everyone lived in an area surrounded by hills and trees.

The back window opens on the expanse which, for my friends and I, served the purpose of an athletic field. A disproportionate number of boys, within a year or two either direction of my age, created another bias on my part. I assumed that everyone grew up surrounded by a suitable number of playmates, and that everyone learned the manners and mores of male peer group functioning at an early age.

It was also in that expanse that we learned that, if you hit a golf ball with a baseball bat, it really flies. It flies with such speed that windows shatter amazingly.

Relatedly, we learned how to repair broken windows. Parents in those days did not believe in rescuing you, nor in making things quicker for themselves by fixing it instead of taking the time to supervise you in doing so, which takes longer but teaches several valid lessons.

On that porch, on summer nights, we would gather and listen to baseball games on the radio, playing a game called Smackeroo. This is not a game of bullying; it was a large plastic board on which a selection of games could be enacted. I cannot find it defined under the web search, but others might also remember it.

Life passages, like this one, are strange and take a while to sort out. My parents had to move because my mother has mobility challenges, and like most houses in the east, their house had numerous stairs, and steep angles on those stairs. The houses mirror the hills that surround them.

I am sleeping on the couch in their apartment, which reminds me of returning, during my years in college, sometimes with a group of friends, which would also result in people sleeping on the couch, or the floor, or any available space.

There’s plenty of available space in their former house now, but no couch to sleep on.

Just before we pronounce it clean, I open a closet in the basement. I have gone through it many times, in the vain hope of finding one of the no doubt valuable baseball cards that I once possessed.

This time, it does unveil a surprise, though not a baseball card. There is a game called Punt’n’Pass. We played the game as kids, but it was ancient even then; my dad and uncles had played it during the 1940’s and 30’s. A web search [gamegeeks] actually did yield the following results:

Developed: 1910. Developer: Arnold Specialty Company, Burbank, CA. Number of players: 2. Genre: American football board game. (1910 ? It was even older than I thought…}

My dad and I thought the game long ago discarded, but there it was, hidden in a corner of a cupboard that we both believed empty.

Somehow, there’s a new type of closure as we tucked it into the car trunk.


Clyde Davis is a Presbyterian pastor and teacher at Clovis Christian High School. He can be contacted at:


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