My Childhood

Dutch Valley Road.

This is what the house I grew up in looked like when my parents bought it. This is not how I remember it at all because my Dad immediately started adding onto it and I only have one very vague memory of that garage/shed.

This is what the house looked like in progress during the build of the addition.

It blows my mind that my Dad just built an addition on a house. I mean, he grew up on a farm and helped his older brothers out with their houses so he left home with a lot of useful skills but, he was an engineer by training. AND THERE WAS NO INTERNET BACK THEN! Donnie has to look up YouTube videos and tutorials constantly for his house projects (which are substantial, don’t get me wrong) – I can’t imagine building an entire addition.

This is what the house looked like the day I said my goodbye on one of my last trips dealing with his estate stuff before they auctioned the house. I took tons of photos that day.

I remember once, when Donnie and I were shopping around for our first house, comparing something to my house growing up and Donnie laughed and said, “Your house is TINY. Like…SMALL.” I was arguing with him that I thought it was at least the size of the house we were looking at which was 17oo square feet and he just said, “There is no way.” So I asked my Dad and he didn’t know the official total but he said, “Around 1,000 square feet is my guess.”

I ABOUT DIED. That is a small house!

Now, when it sold a few years after we auctioned and it was rennovated – it was listed at 1,500 square feet but the floor plan dimensions included a bathroom that was closed off when we were growing up and a “basement” room and a “laundry room” that we never used under the house. They were kinda the results of the addition and we did have our washer/dryer down there but it was a lot of unfinished walls and dirt floors and one part Dad (under the original structure) said was being held up by a metal cabinet. (Don’t ask.)

This was the best photo I could find of that basement area that my Dad did not include in the square footage for obvious reasons. The new owners finished this area so it was included in the square footage.

I was terrified of the area under the house. That’s probably why I didn’t leave home knowing how to do laundry. THERE WAS NO WAY I WAS STAYING DOWN THERE WITH THE MONSTERS AND THE GHOSTS JUST TO WASH MY CLOTHES.

My Dad would do laundry in that room and read out loud from books of poetry. He liked poetry, but he also liked it as training for speaking. We could hear him upstairs as he did it and I would give about anything to hear it again.

Where was I?

Oh! So, 1,000 square feet of space that my family lived in growing up and I was blown away because it just seemed so much bigger in my head.

I remember the story of when my parents bought the house (they were still married back then, obviously) my Mom’s biggest complaint was there were no closets in the bedrooms so Dad assured her he would build them. This is what he built.

That was my room/closet after we cleaned it all out. When I was living there it had a blue curtain in front of it. But that was my closet! It was incredibly functional but…you know…not quite what one expects out of a closet. My brother had a similar one in his room. The master bedroom was in the addition and Dad build one closet similar to this one and then one “real” closet with a door in that room. So he did eventually understand the value of a closed off closet.

I couldn’t find any pictures of the kitchen/main living area after we cleaned it all out, but I did find a bunch from when Dad was alive (2004’ish) and living in it. Here was our kitchen.

That doorway right there is the break between the original structure (with the kitchen) and addition which had the living room, bathroom (the original structure had a bathroom but it was never in use when I was growing up, we only used the new bathroom), and Dad’s bedroom.

Supposedly the original structure had the duct work from a furnace so there could have maybe been central heat/ac if Dad had wanted too but he didn’t think it was a necessary cost so the only heating/cooling we had were box fans in the windows during the summer and a baseboard heater in the living room. It was under that table you see in the picture behind Dad/Donnie and we would curly up under that table to watch TV in the winter.

There was also a coil heater plugged in in the “back” of the house but it was a bit of a fire hazard so we only used it if we were going to be in the back of the house for extended time. Otherwise Chris and I had electric blankets to keep us warm while we slept. And we slept in like forty layers of clothes. That house got SO COLD in the winter.

Our house was in a weird spot Knoxville. There were other houses/apartments on our street, even a government housing complex at one end, but there was also industrial zoning so on the other end of the road there was a meat packing plant and a giant glass shipping business and other things. It was only a two-laned road, but it had TONS of 18-wheeler traffic (due to some of the industrial zoning at one end) so you never would consider walking anywhere. From our screened in porch you could see both I-75 and I-40 so there was tons of sounds of traffic and so there was none of those “neighborhood” opportunities for roaming or meeting kids that the movies show you. It was noisy and loud, but very isolating if that makes sense.

We only had one bathroom that we all shared and I honestly don’t remember it bothering me too much. I mean, yeah, I was blown away by friends who had their own bathrooms, or even if their parents had a separate bathroom, but it never seemed like a problem to share a bathroom with my Dad and brother. Maybe because I was the only girl so maybe I was the bathroom hog? But I got ready in my bedroom and when you don’t have heat or air-conditioning, there’s no lingering after a showering. You are either about to start sweating again immediately so you take a cooler shower to reduce that, or it’s so cold in the house you want to get dressed immediately so time in the bathroom was not something any of use wanted.

My favorite thing was Dad’s bookshelves. He made them in every nook and cranny he could squeeze them. There were full of mostly non-fiction and textbooks but he also loved poetry and William Faulkner so there were collections like that spread out too.

He gave us a good life in that house. He bought it (remember, it was half the size) for around $13,000 in the late 70s and when we auctioned it in 2009 it only went for $27,000. He traveled so much in his later years he didn’t do much to maintain it and he wasn’t ever sure how it would look to a home inspector, so we knew no one with a bank loan could ever get financing for it so we had to auction it. The updated pictures from the people who tried to flip it look insane. They did TONS of work to it, even repainted it and build a front porch. But it’s been occupied by renters ever since so, I’m not sure how profitable the investment turned out to be.

I don’t know why I’m walking down memory lane today. I just stumbled upon these photos in Google photos and wanted to kinda put some stuff from my brain into this blog about my house. Thanks for tolerating it 🙂

3 thoughts on “Dutch Valley Road.”

  1. I love seeing inside people’s homes especially childhood homes. It’s funny how stuff like sharing a bathroom never bothered me growing up either but, I sure am fussy as an adult

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