RT Cunningham


This Old House Looks Strangely Familiar - A Google Street View Image

house The old house my parents lived in before they died is still standing. It doesn’t look so good now, but it’s been around since before my parents bought it from one of my uncles.

As far as I know, I only had one Uncle John and he was married to one of my father’s sisters. He was the guy who built the house. He did everything himself, including the original sewer and electrical lines.

When was the House Built?

I remember someone telling me Uncle John built the front part in 1948. Supposedly, he obtained the lumber from buildings torn down after a World War II Japanese internment camp closed.

As I mentioned when I wrote about the shelf partition, Uncle John converted it from a 3-bedroom to a 4-bedroom house sometime before he sold it to my parents.

We moved into the house in 1963 or 1964, when I was still at the age of three and my younger brother, Joel, was still at the age of one. If you go by the 1948 date, it’s been around 68 or 69 years. Using 1964 (when I turned four), it’s been around at least 53 years.

Unless some big-time development starts taking place in that area, or the house gets condemned, it will probably still be around in 20 years.

The House and a Serious Lack of Maintenance

My father died in August of 2009. He kept everything going, and growing, until a year or so before that. He couldn’t do much of anything after he found out he had multiple myeloma, a form a cancer.

My mother died in August of 2010, just under a year after my father died. I don’t know if either of my parents had a will, but it doesn’t matter. Neither I nor my siblings wanted any part of their estate, which included what my mother had stashed in a bank safe deposit box.

My divorced younger sister, Tammie, and her children were living with my parents when they died and they’re still living there today. I think the oldest of three no longer lives there, but I wouldn’t know. I haven’t been there since before my parents died.

Out of curiosity, I looked it up with Google Maps and then captured the Google Street View image. It’s from September of 2016, so it’s fairly recent. It’s sad to see it in the state it’s in. The house doesn’t look great – it still has the same paint on it as the last time I was there. It was Autumn and I would expect the grass to be brown, not nonexistent. I won’t comment on anything else in the picture.

The House is Woefully Substandard

Tammie can’t sell the house, even if she wants to move somewhere else. No one would buy it. It’s cooled by two swamp coolers. It’s heated by an old electric heater from a camper in the front and a small gas heater in the back. There’s no insulation anywhere.

It has four bedrooms but only one bathroom. Imagine how we got along without more than one, with a family of 11. The house was probably considered decent in 1964. Many American homes still had bathrooms separate from the houses (like outhouses).

It would cost more to renovate the house than it would to tear it down and start over. Joel did just that to my grandmother’s house (on my father’s side) when he bought it from our living aunts and uncles after she died in 1986. He’s too old to do that with this house – he did everything by himself the last time, but he was around 30 years younger.

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By RT Cunningham
April 4, 2017
House and Home

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