My grandparents lived in a pink house on the same street as my parents’ home in a small village in upstate New York. To my family, Grandma and Grandpa lived down the street. To anyone else who knew them, they lived in the pink house in town.I’m not sure why the small two-story home was pink. One family legend has it my grandfather got a good deal on pink slate shingles. That’s plausible given grandpa’s penchant for squeezing every last cent out of each one of those hard-earned dollars that came into the household.
Inside the house was the center of our family life in the sixties and seventies. The front room, or parlor as my grandmother occasionally referred to it, was lined with chairs and a daybed. Overhead was a fluorescent light which offered a harsh well-lit view of our faces and the rest of the room. I can still hear the clicking sound of the light fixture when the switch was flicked on
This was the room where all the conversation started. The latest news about family members, updates on unusual things seen or heard in the area over the past few days, and a weather report were among the topics brought up for discussion.
Eventually, the conversation shifted to the kitchen where a teakettle would be on the stove warming up, a jar of Maxwell House instant coffee would pass among the adults at the table so that everyone could adjust the strength of their beverage, and a box of donuts that came from the bread section at the grocery store would be opened. Topping all this off was the jar of peanut butter. Spreading peanut butter on a donut was as much a part of life for me growing up as going to church on Sunday.
The pink house was across the street and one house down from the local school. We passed the house when we would walk to school, so my grandmother could see us every day. On the last day of the school year, I’d stop in along with some of my cousins to show Grandma my report card and prove that I once again passed all my classes and would be heading up to the next grade in the fall.
Calling hours when my uncle Billy and my grandmother passed away were held in their home. We celebrated birthdays there. Grandma and Grandpa celebrated their fortieth and fiftieth wedding anniversaries with parties at that house. Later milestone anniversaries were held at their winter home in Florida.
After my grandparents passed away, an auction was held to sell off the possessions that were accumulated over the seventy-plus years of a life together. I think the auctioneer, along with my dad, and others who attended were surprised when several of the grandchildren started to bid on some of the items. It seemed as though each one of us wanted to hold on to some piece of that home. It truly had been a part of our lives.
My nephew bought the house from the estate, and changed the color. It’s no longer the pink house in town. He and his wife have made a lot of changes and that’s a good thing. They have made it their own just like my grandparents made it their own many decades earlier.
The pink house still generates a lot of fond memories about growing up in a small town.
It’s forming new memories with a younger generation keeping it in the family.
Steve Newvine lives in Merced.