August 2, 2012
Last week, I was at my friend Amy’s house for bookgroup. She introduced me to her husband, John, because he’s a big fan of "This Old House." While we were chatting, he mentioned that his father grew up on the same street where our house is. When I asked which street number, John wasn’t sure, so he called his father. Turns out that his father, Web, grew up in “our” house!
At that point, John put me on the phone with his father. Web was amazed to hear that the house was going to be renovated by "This Old House," because he is a long-time fan, and we were both stunned at the improbability of us making this connection.
My conversation with Web helped us answer some of the questions we had about the house. Web’s grandparents bought the house in 1909. They were the second owners, and lived there for more than 60 years. Web’s mother was raised in the house. Right before the Great Depression, Web’s grandfather invited Web’s parents to move in with their new baby (Web). They lived upstairs on the second floor while the grandparents lived downstairs. There were two separate apartments, with a kitchen in each unit. The house was built on a former pear orchard, and there were still two or three pear trees in the yard when Web lived there.
Shortly after we made the connection, Web, his wife Sylvia, and a total of three generations of their family came to see the house. Web told us many stories about living in the house—where people slept, and how the rooms were used. He said the house was full of good memories for his family, and he wished our family many years of happiness there.