About Me

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Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, United States

Monday, April 30, 2012

History of Homes

When we got out of the Army in 1954, we moved to an apartment in Lodi, New Jersey,
so that I could commute to my job in Edgewater. Mom was anxious to buy a house so
we looked all over and settled on a new Cape Cod style in Washington Township,
Bergen County. It had only two bedrooms on the first floor, and an unfinished second
floor. We bought it for $14,300, with a $700 down payment from the Hicks. Moved
in shortly after Darcy was born in 1955. I did little with the house except have a front
walk laid with concrete, and build tree wells in the back.

Then came the interesting stay in Loveland, Ohio, in a rented house with a brick front
and a cistern for storing water under the garage slab. Next was the farmhouse near
Hamilton, Ohio, across from a cornfield. In 1958, we bought the ranch house in
Forest Park, a new development, for $18,700. There I put in a brick patio and
planted a live Christmas tree. The neighbors were our friends.

Mom and I had already scouted the Chicago area, before we moved in 1961, aiming
for the best schools. We found 585 Lincoln, next to a building of medical practitioners,
right in the heart of Winnetka. There, of course, we immediately became acquainted
with the Gundlachs, next door. We risked 25K on an 1878 antique at 299 Walnut Street,
buying directly from the owners. Everything went wrong with that house. I couldn't
wait to get out of it. (The market value is now estimated at 858K, with taxes of 18K.
Darcy drove past it on a visit and said it has been extensively rebuilt and added to.)

On to Scarsdale, New York, to another rented house on 9 Church Lane, at the foot of
the churchyard for our Church of St. James the Less. Having no equity from our
previous homes, I borrowed 8K from my mother as a down payment on One Edgewood
Road, which we bought for 38K. That was a glorious house to live in for three teenagers
plus Amy. When I said, "Go to your room!", they all could retire to separate quarters.
Living there from 1966 to 1975, we made lifelong friends (many now gone).

The three older children graduated from Scarsdale High School with a splendid
preparation for college. I was too busy to do much work on the house except paint
a few rooms. We sold the house privately to a Pakistani airline pilot for 60K.
(The market value is now estimated to be 908K, with annual taxes of 18K. We saw
it on our reunion visit to St. James. Looks exactly the same as we left it).

With the two boys out of college, and Darcy in college, we downsized and moved to
Mahopac, paying 46K in 1975 for the house at 21 Sycamore Terrace. It was an odd duck.
Sort of a Cape Cod style on the outside, but with a large living room leading off to a
patio. The other rooms were small; the two bedrooms on the second floor were
reached by a steep staircase. I transformed the house on the outside, covering up
asbestos shingles with Adirondack cedar shingles, and staining them grey. I painted
and wallpapered the rooms twice. Retiring to Cape Cod in 1993, we sold it to a
couple from Queens for 175K. (The market value is now estimated at 362K).

We bought 81 Maple Lane for 125K. It had been on the market for two years. I
did everything possible to that house, inside and out, except install gutters, which
the new owners have done. It is their vacation home, and they wrote me recently
how pleased they are with it. We did a lot of living in that house, but it became
a lonely place for me after Mom died. I held out for 365K when it was on the
market in 2009 and am pleased that the present market estimate is 363K.

Now I share a small corner of a grand house, designed and built by the owner,
who has it in trust for her daughters. With our two incomes, we can manage the
operating expenses, though they are steadily increasing. The price of oil is a killer,
but we can't get natural gas on this road. Since I moved in, we have already
invested 50K in capital improvements. I lent the owner 25K; she has a line of
credit for 20K. How long we will be able to stay here is problematical,
depending mostly on the state of our health. She has long term care insurance;
I am self-insured by investing the proceeds from sale of my house.

Anyway, it is a beautiful surrounding we live in, so we enjoy it as much as possible!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Venice -- A Look Back

Venice, Florida, that is.
The weather is perfect,
No doubt about it;
High 70s to low 80s with mild breezes.

The road traffic is abominable.
Two six lane highways blast through the town;
One a bypass with all the car dealers and such,
The other stops cars at interminable lights.

You have to know exactly
Where you are going and how to get there,
And become proficient in making "Uies"
From one direction to another.

Venice has the only dog beach in Sarasota County,
To which we took Tippy on numerous occasions.
She didn't like it, or the smelly, wet dogs,
And barked to be taken home.

The Venice island center is beautiful,
With handsome buildings carefully
Designed in Italianate architecture,
Along streets encouraging pedestrian use.

Local shopping is a delight,
Particularly the Publix supermarket.
The Venice Regional Medical Center
Runs a quick response walk-in clinic.

Superb bicycle trails abound in Venice.
A wide concrete trail borders the waterway,
Allowing dog walkers a safe path.
A converted rail trail leads to Sarasota.

The cultural delights of Sarasota,
As well as upscale shopping areas
Are an easy, fast drive from Venice,
Provided your destination is carefully planned.

Fort Myers is about an hour away;
From there it is another three hours of driving
Across the waist of Florida
To Palm Beach on the East Coast.

Renting in Venice is surprisingly easy.
Houses, condos, mobile homes
Are available during the winter season.
Apartments require longer leases.

Would we go back to Venice next year?
Probably not, too many variables to manage.
We are looking at a winter cruise from Miami
To Barcelona, Pisa, Rome, and Venice (Italy).