Our House

Sits in a cluster of brick ranchers. My neighbor Ida has told me that she and ten or so other black families bought and built on this block simultaneously in '61. They paid $100 a lot. It seems that most of my neighbors are the original inhabitants of these houses. I expect we'll meet them once spring comes and everyone gets outside again, I just hope the yellow motorcycle and white pick-up truck parked in the yard haven't given anyone a bad impression.

There is a concrete slab that steps down from the main structure of our house on the west end which holds the laundry/mud room off the kitchen and a little wood-paneled den off the living room. There was a "window" with two hinged and paneled doors built into the wall over the sink in the laundry that peeks into the den. We have puzzled over the logic of this feature since we first came in with our real-estate lady. Also, on the floor of the den the builders set those old-school tan and brown flecked industrial vinyl tiles. If the light is right, you can see the tiles have hundreds of little round impressions dented into their surface, left as if by a cane or pool cue.

I dreamt the other night that black craftsmen came from all over the city to build these houses down by the river, and that this house was built for a man who's wife was a painter. The guys came and laid up the walls, got it dried in, hung the sheet-rock and ran the trim. An old man built the maple cabinets on site and ran them in place. The couple would come by occasionally to check on the progress, the tradesmen thought fondly of them, eventually finished and went away. The woman set up her easel in the den and would rotate it to catch the variations of light as the day traveled across the house, the feet of the easel leaving small indentions as she turned it. As she finished her work she would pass her brushes through the small opening in the wall to be cleaned in the sink on the other side.