The house was ordinary by any standard, however when it belongs to grandparents it becomes special, especially when my Dad and his brother shared the room upstairs as children.
It was the first house I ever saw that had an archway inside, instead of a door. I marveled at that archway since I lived in a standard ranch house built around 1960. The drapes also amazed me since the house I lived in had curtains. Even today I remember the pull strings on the drapes and the ornate round pulls on the bottoms of them.
Upstairs is where my parents and I slept. There was no heat and it was so cold at Christmas my Grandfather put his Moxie on the steps going up to the bedroom. I was always impressed by the blast of cold air that would follow opening the door to the bedroom staircase.
The living room and dining area were together and the kitchen not far behind. My grandmother seemed to spend all of her time in the kitchen and she always wore an apron whenever I was around. Being a typical young lad I suspect I made more than my fair share of messes so her apron was probably a very good idea. My grandfather always had a stump of a Dutch Masters cigar somewhere on his person. He liked to blow smoke up my sleeves and tell me it was coming out my ears. To this day the scent of stale cigar smoke makes me feel good and comfortable and every time I see a smoke shop I think of my grandfather.
He had his tools all perfectly arranged in little drawers. His lawn mower had the off set wheels that are long gone today. He had a special cabinet for pipe cleaners and smoking materials and he liked those old lighters that were clear and had little mermaids floating inside. He wore string ties and always had on some sort of hat. He was the only person I ever met who shaved while smoke a cigar, and would then come into the kitchen to get his teeth out of the freezer (much to the absolute horror of my mother).
Columbia Avenue was a quiet dead end street in Warwick and I could play outside in safety. The ice cream truck would come during summer and I would be in awe of this event as we had no such legendary trucks where I lived in Maine.
As a middle aged adult, today I realized that what I loved was my family, but what I remember are the details of the “stuff” that comprised that love long after the situations, hugs and kissed, have faded in detail. Maybe this a “guy thing” or maybe it is because I was a single child for the first dozen years of my life. I do know it is how I remember what life was like, right down to the batter powered monorail and “Supercar” that arrived under the Christmas tree in 1965 at the house on Columbia Avenue.