Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 12:47:52 PM
As World War II ended, everything was scarce--apartments, automobiles, refrigerators and money. With luck, we found a place in an old house being renovated by a friend. Our $40 per month pied a terre was part of a rear, second floor addition, probably originally intended as a solarium.
At the top of a curved staircase was a long skinny hallway, just big enough for a sink and stove and a refrigerator we didn’t have. At the end of the hallway, on the left, was a multi-windowed room we filled with the maple kitchen set Uncle Charlie found at a wholesale price. On one wall was a boarded up door leading to the attic on which my artist husband did a pastel sketch of a rickety castle with a crooked chimney--a reminder of a future promise. We used to joke about someday being starving artists in an attic, and here we were, closer than we had imagined.
On the right of said hallway were three small areas designated as bedroom, living room and bathroom. The bedroom was snug with a double bed and one (small) nightstand. Since the house was near railroad tracks, our dreams were often synchronized with bells and whistles. Having lived in that neighborhood, I was used to the noise, but it gave my sweetie nightmares of bestial locomotives.
The living room was furnished with a couch, chair and desk, which was actually part of the bedroom set. Our decor was traditional hand-me-down, augmented by a 9x12 rug borrowed from Aunt Kate. On the wall was a fake oil painting of a girl seated at a grand piano. It must have been a standard wedding gift since many couples had one.
The bathroom was memorable with a 5 foot long, footed bathtub nestled under a slanted ceiling. My 6'2" husband managed to shrink himself into the tub by sticking his feet out the window, located at the foot of the tub. Standing was impossible so he solved the problem by showering in my mother's house a block away.
We also used space in her refrigerator until we got our own. One night, Uncle Charlie met a contractor friend in a bar and regaled him with our problems. The man sold us a small refrigerator he had purchased for his apartments. Not great, but an improvement over daily trips to pick up supplies.
If we had been as clever as the Obamas, we would have moved into Mom's three bedroom house. However, romance and common sense are mutually exclusive. We were young and wanted our VERY OWN PLACE.
I almost forgot. We shared our undersized space with a boarder. One morning, I discovered a half-chewed banana. When I was berating my husband for leaving such garbage, the peel began to move--a mouse!
Our landlady vehemently denied the presence of rodents until one fateful day. As we were chatting, she reached into the lower refrigerator drawer for a potato and came up screaming when she realized what she grabbed.
She was more than a bit frugal with the heat. When we complained that our gas cooking stove was a poor substitute for the house furnace, she suggested we go to bed. I had considered asking her for birth control advice until I realized that she and her husband had three small children, very closely spaced in age. Heat would have been cheaper.