September 28, 2015 by kblumenau
I spent a fair amount of time at my grandparents’ house on Hope Street as a kid.
And through this blog, I’ve spent a fair amount of time revisiting it in my mind — most notably in a post from this week in 2012, when I wrote a room-by-room tour of the place from memory.
That’s why I was interested — though maybe not surprised — to discover that one of my grandpa’s recently discovered journals includes a year-by-year list of every significant improvement made to the house, starting in January 1946 and ending in October 1984.
The first page …
… and the last.
It would have been around October 1984 that my grandparents sold the house at 1107 Hope to developers, who tore it down the following year to make room for condos.
I can only assume that front porch roof really needed to be reshingled in the fall of ’84; I can’t imagine my grandpa enjoyed sinking $350 (about $800 in 2015 money) into a house he knew he was going to leave.
On the other hand, I am oddly touched by the $2.44 spent on a new toggle light switch for the bathroom medicine cabinet. It’s like a fresh young soldier reporting to a platoon that knows the battle’s lost. Here’s this shiny new part looking forward to a lifetime of service, and getting six months tops before the bulldozers come.
I won’t bore my Five Readers with a lengthy breakdown of what got spent, when. I know no one really cares about the details.
I will share some of the more interesting items, though.
For starters, here’s a list of the paint colors (besides basic gray, white, blue and green) applied to different parts of the house over that 38-year period. The house in my memory was fairly drab — maybe “plain” is a kinder word — but this parade of names makes it sound like a riot of color:
Candleglow (it appears to be a light beige-yellow)
And now for some journal entries:
October 1946. Twenty-five pounds of furnace asbestos. Wonder what that was — insulation, maybe? It was only a buck — good deal if you didn’t mind getting cancer years later.
April 1947. My grandpa splurges and blows eight dollars on evergreens. Wonder if they are the ones visible in this photo from circa 1973.
October 1947: Wood for the rose arbor. This might or might not be the (heavily weathered) wood from the cover photo of Hope’s Treat, the official soundtrack to the Hope Street blog.
March 1956. Remember when a radio was something you got fixed?
April 1957. Look, Ma, I made the newspaper. Wonder how many of these building improvements — heck, how many of these buildings — are still extant today. Also, I have always thought of Stamford as a predominantly Italian city with a minority of eastern Europeans, and this clipping does nothing to change my mind.
August 26, 1967. Home security is not a running theme in this journal, so the mention of a lock stands out. My grandparents’ home would be broken into in the early ’80s — perhaps a minor contributing factor to their eventual decision to sell.
October 18, 1968. This is probably the same clothesline my grandfather photographed, encased in ice, after the ice storm of December 1973.
January-February 1975. Regardless of what Fela Kuti might tell you, water is the homeowner’s enemy. I think this is the only reference to an insurance claim in the entire journal. At least it’s the only one that sticks out now that I’ve been through it three or four times.
October 14, 1977. No idea why my grandpa saw fit to illustrate this, but here you go.
October 1979. It’s a family affair: John Jacobellis, who replaced part of my grandpa’s porch floor, is my cousin on my mom’s side. (He’s been active in the building trades in Stamford for many years, and is referenced in passing in this post from four years ago.) He shows up in my grandpa’s journal on one or two other occasions in the late ’70s and early ’80s, as well.
March 5, 1981. Salty Grandpa shows up for a moment (“crap trap”).
Summer 1983. My grandpa tackles a home improvement task — and, by his own concession, does a “lousy job.” The roots of the sale of Hope Street and the move to Rochester might lie in moments like this, as my grandfather realized he was no longer as capable of this sort of repair as he used to be.