My Midwestern Family Home

405 S 15th Ave, MarshalltownIowa

I grew up in a modest 1,014 square foot 3 bedroom 1 bath house on 15th Avenue in Marshalltown, Iowa. It was a house built in 1955 from the ground up and bought with a down payment given to my folks by my mom’s mother. I think they paid $19,000 for it and it’s worth about $90,000 now. Can you imagine? It’s a home that could be in Madera right now.

The peonies on the right were planted by my mother and so was the juniper border. The only thing that’s missing is a big maple tree that was in the front yard. I think it blew down in a windstorm years after my mom went to the nursing home. Way after I left to see the world.

In hindsight it was a pretty small house for 5 people. Mom and dad, my sister and brother and me. My dad’s “man cave” was the garage. He spent a lot of time working on cars in the garage they built a few years after we moved in. I love that they built the garage separate from the house and not attached like they do most of the time now. I think it makes the home more inviting to not see the garage first thing.

As for the small size of the house we kids didn’t know anything else so we never had a thought how big or little it was. We spent most of our time playing outdoors anyway and in all sorts of weather. Mom only made us come in if there was a thunderstorm headed our way and snow was nothing to be concerned about. As a matter of fact the more snow the better! Snow forts were made out of a snow drift, there were snowball fights, and hundreds of snow men over a lifetime.

As a kid I thought the yard was giant. Plenty of room for annie-over and catching lightening bugs in the summer. Flying kites, hitting the baseball, having picnics in the back yard. When I visited later on the yard had shrunk by a considerable amount just like the first elementary school I went to. How does that happen? If you’re only 4 feet tall things look bigger, I guess.

Out beyond the back yard was Schultz’s farm with your typical two story farmhouse and animal pens and a big corn field. My dad was given permission to grow a half acre vegetable garden there. I also remember joyous Christmases and Thanksgivings, Easter and summer vacation. Those are all happy memories.

But it wasn’t always a happy house. As the years went on my mom and dad got to fighting more and more. Eventually they divorced and my mom stayed while my dad moved elsewhere. That’s the story of life. That’s the story of a house. Now every time I go into a house that I’m looking at for buyers or reviewing for a sale I think “If this house could talk what story would it tell me?”

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