The Old Neighborhood

By Kay Gardiner
June 24, 2021

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33 Comments
  • Such a coinky-dinky — I just yesterday looked up my grandmother’s house on Google maps. This was brought on from my having watched the first episode of the truly bizarre tv show “Kevin Can F— Himself” — I watched because it is set in my hometown, Worcester, Massachusetts. When one of the characters walked down the street in the first episode and I saw the familiar cityscape of three-deckers I was almost overwhelmed with nostalgia. My grandmother’s house is situated between two three-deckers on a city street. I was so pleased to see on Google Maps that it looks well-cared for and almost exactly as I remember it.

  • Oh I do love the random nature of the writing on this page – I have never even been to the US, but your wonderfully evocative writing transports me there, thank you! I shall follow your inspiration and look up some of our family’s homes… I love the shawl too, will look forward to Cecilia’s patterns coming soon, love her work!

  • Loved your walk down memory lane in Omaha since I live across the river in CB. Omaha is alive with the College World Series this week and doing a great job of welcoming all the out-of-state fans.

  • OMG what a treat this was. As usual, thank you for sharing your journey. A few years ago, my daughter asked me to offer a a short “story” for an Anthology collection. I felt limited by what I had to offer given the audience I was addressing. But reflections of the 1940s called out a favorite memory. It was a simple essay based on an open kitchen window and Mother cooking summer okra from the garden. To my amazement , it was accepted. What came to mind was the fact that others were able to travel thru similar memories while experiencing mine. So Kay today while I read yours I got to visit 2706 and looked it up. Thank you

  • I love these random posts that send me off to random places and times. My kids and I once spent a fascinating hour “walking” (online) through my father’s childhood neighborhood in a rural corner of Slovakia. Amazing stuff. Thank you!

  • Oh Kay, this was so much fun to read! Thank-you!

  • Bear with? SUCH FUN! (In my mind that’s. Miranda reference!)

  • Thank you for bringing me home, with you. Started reminiscing, writing, and knitting!

  • Well that was depressing. EVERYTHING in my home town (Sunset Beach, CA) has changed since the 60’s-early 70’s. I am grateful to have grown up there when I did. Great memories! Just that nothing looks the same now

  • Really enjoyed today’s piece!

  • LOVED this piece. As it turns out, my husband and I took a driving trip from North Carolina to the Midwest last month to see our old haunts, visiting family along the way.

    In Peoria, IL, I knocked on the door of my childhood home asking if I could please take a picture of the outside. The owner and his wife were so sweet! They invited us in and gave us a full tour of the house, even including the funny twin tiny linen closets upstairs. Of course, much has changed from 60 years ago, but some had not! The “new” fireplace was still there, seemingly untouched, where we had posed for important family photos; the unwise trip-hazard step leading down into the family room had not been corrected; the bedroom my sister and I shared and where we snuck our first cigarette looked small and precious and the sole bathroom which 6 people shared was there. How many times one of us would pound on that door, yelling over the sound of the shower running “don’t take all the hot water!” The rooster weather vane on the garage roof was still there that Grandpa had crawled up to mount was heralding the wind direction as he intended so long ago.

    Memories of hundreds and hundreds daily acts of living that happened in that house and on that little street came in waves, creating an epic movie reel in my head. I feel so blessed that those owners could sense, and honor, how meaningful it was for me to “feel” the house again.

  • What a great post!! You’ve inspired me to look at my childhood home on Google maps and my grandparents’ house. What an oasis their house was when I needed to get away from my 9 younger brothers and sisters. My Nan was always glad to see me and I’d spend an idyllic day with her. Thank you for reminding me of that.
    The shawl is BEAUTIFUL too!!

  • What a wonderful post! I did this type of tour with my 96 year old Dad last year, looking at every place he ever lived. He loved it. Most of them hadn’t changed much, if at all. What struck me most was your comment about your grandmother’s pleasure having you there. My delight in our two grandchildren has given me insight into how much my Nana must have enjoyed having me stay with her when I was small. Thanks for a great start to the day.

  • Such a lovely post Kay, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting your childhood homes and memories with you! And your shawl is looking gorgeous, I’ll be on the lookout for Cecelia’s pattern when it arrives.

  • Some years ago the google street view car caught my husband and daughter in the parking lot of the local public library, and it’s a nostalgia trip to visit that space and see them frozen in time.
    The New Yorker wrote a great article about this phenomenon: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-ghosts-in-our-machines

  • Thanks for sharing this beautiful story, Kay. While you were reading on your grandparents’ porch, I was making the trek to Clarkson Hospital kitchen from 2409 South 46th Ave. to squirrel away money for college in 1970. Fifty years later and back here where I put down roots in 1982, the journey across town feels worlds away.

  • Kay, thank you so much for your lovely and evocative trip down memory lane. I really enjoyed the picture you painted of that time in your life.

  • Love this!

  • I was stationed in Spain for three years in the 1980s. It was fun to take a trip down memory lane and see my old apartment building and haunts via Google software. The corner store where I bought yarn is gone, but my friend’s family restaurant is going strong. Fascinating to wander Rota and see the changes of all these years.

  • My Mom was FURIOUS when we showed her Google Street View. You could see the mended crack in the driveway. 🙂 I however, love going back and remembering fun we had in Des Moines.

  • The last time I was “home”, I measured the distance we walked to and from high school every day for four years. It was 4 miles one way! And I couldn’t help but wonder how many of our kids nowadays would or could do that.

  • This made me remember an estate sale I took my father to a number of years ago that was held in a house he grew up in. He showed me the underside of a window sill in an upstairs bedroom that he and my uncle had carved their names in.

  • I will think of you while watching the rest of the College World Series (while knitting, of course!). A friend and I shared views of our childhood homes on Google earth a few years ago, and I share your delight! Now that you’ve reminded me, I have some more searching to do! Recently my husband was in his hometown for a funeral and stopped by his grandmother’s house which housed his best childhood memories and has only had new owners for about 10 years. The new owner happily showed him around and the work he’s done, and was happy to gift my husband the ornament on the front door with his beloved grandfather’s name etched on it still.

  • I often use google street view when pricing tree jobs. Do you think the neighbours to the left know that their tree is dead? Thanks for these lovely reminiscences Kay.

  • Thanks for the lovely meander!

  • I currently live in the same city, and fairly close to a neighborhood that I spent 4th and 5th grade in. As the child of a Navy family, I lived in 13 homes from birth through the end of high-school age.
    I see the old house, the streets and wild areas that we biked and crept through. 50+ years ago.
    Sadly, it was my brother, the favorite child to be sure, was the rider of the ultra cool Stingray bike. xo

  • It’s all good. ❤

  • What wonderful memories this brings! When my now-husband and I were first dating, we were living in Japan, far from our homes in the UK and USA. We spent an afternoon on Google Street View together, showing each other the special places in our hometowns.

    I was also lucky enough to grow up with my grandparents next door. (My other set of grandparents lived a thirty-minute drive away, next door to my cousins. So as a child, I always assumed having a grandparent next door was Just How Things Were.) My grandma had dementia from the time I was very small and was in a nursing home, but Papa cooked dinner every night for our family until he died when I was 16. My mother still lives in my childhood home, and now my family lives in Papa’s old house. Our daughter is growing up to know the joy of having her grandma next door, and it makes my heart happy.

    Odd story about the house: the rooms had been repainted white in the years since Papa died. Too dull for color-loving me. I selected 5 – 10 possible paint colors for each room, and my husband made the final choice. Imagine our surprise when we removed an old knife block in the kitchen to discover we had painted the main part of the house the very same pale green it was in my childhood, which I had no memory of! Life is funny sometimes.

  • When my Mom was too old to travel anymore, I would take her on “trips” overseas to see her childhood home in the Netherlands, or visit her brother in New Zealand, and many of her other relatives scattered far and wide. We both loved it – not as much as an actual trip, of course. Five years ago, we had a family reunion, and the US, New Zealand and Dutch cousins walked by our parents house and reminisced. Priceless.

  • I’m in Omaha so this was especially fun. Then I went down the rabbit hole. Looked up my home in Bartlesville, OK. Then the neighborhood and school. Then chatting with my brother and sharing fun memories. Thanks!

  • Stunning shawl!

  • Kay- you are my people! I knew it! I grew up in Omaha as well (103rd and Center) and my dad grew up right around the corner from you. My mom and I have a favorite mexican restaurant in that neighborhood and it does make me sad to see all the changes (some good – some frustrating) but knowing a revitalization will be coming in the next few years. Thank you for the the post – happy memories! Traacey

  • You can sometimes see street views from multiple years, too. This works on Google Maps (desktop). If there’s a clock icon under the address on the left-hand side, click the down arrow to bring up a slider that will take you to multiple points in time.