Saturday, July 14, 2012

What Do You Call the House Where You Live?

1940  Mother, Terry, and Grace at the
house with the cistern and no running water.
I imagine that most people would answer the title question, "Home." So would I. However, through the years I've lived in so many different houses that it is necessary to have ways of distinguishing them.

I've read many, many books with settings in England, in which houses are identified not by an address, but by a name. The practice of naming houses did, in some cases, travel to the new world. It seems that the houses I see identified by names these days are usually in the "mansion" category. The practice of giving each house a specific name is not common here.

My parents had their own way of identifying the houses they lived in. Some houses they named after some particular aspect of the house or their experience while living there. Others were called by the name of the owner/prior owner. I don't know the names of all the houses my parents lived in before I was born, but do remember some of the names from references they would make to them, or from my mother identifying them for me in photos.

Mother and daughters at the Cold House in 1941
One house my parents and two older sisters lived in before I was born was just identified on a photo  by its street address, but it was later renovated and was occupied by good neighbors of ours when my parents bought a house in that neighborhood. I think of that house as the Joslyn's house.  Mother told me that when they lived there it had no running water, just a cistern to catch rain water for washing. She had to carry drinking/clean water from a faucet up the hill. The rent in 1940 was $10 per month.

My sister remembers that they lived for a time in a house they always referred to as "The Mouse House." I think the reason for that is self-explanatory!

When I was born the family was living in "The Cold House." That doesn't need explaining either.

Grace, Terry, Michelle on the steps
of the Richardson House
From The Cold House, we moved to "The Richardson House." The landlord must have been named Richardson. After a few months there, the family next lived in "The Lindsey House." This house is the scene of my earliest memory (I was not quite two years old). Although it felt like a memory, I thought this little snapshot in my mind could not be a real memory. In it, my mother was trying to coax me into a shower. I was very frightened of it. My sisters were already in. We were all wearing paper sacks, with the tops rolled down to make them fit, on our heads as shower caps. I thought this could not be a true memory, because we had never lived in a house with a shower. But then I learned that the Lindsey house had a shower, and that Mother had, indeed, made us shower caps from paper sacks!

When I was two we moved to "The Rooney House," where we lived until I was 9 1/2. I have many, many of my childhood memories from this house. It was while we lived there that my father was called to military service in WWII and my mother took a country school teaching job. While she did that we lived in "The Rabbit Hutch," which I wrote about in Little Schoolhouse on the Prairie. When Daddy got home from the army we went back to the Rooney House (my aunt and uncle had stayed there while we were gone).
1943 Our Rogers cousins with us on the south side of the Rooney
House. The front porch, seen behind the boys, was shaded by heavy
vines and a wonderful place to play.

My parents bought their first house when I was 9 1/2. We called it "The Morgan House," after the previous owners. We only lived there for a year before my parents sold it to the business next door, and we moved to the next house they bought, "The Perkins House." This was our home for the next ten or eleven years.

The last house my parents bought was a new house that nobody else had ever lived in. Although it was the family home for nearly 50 years, I always thought of it as the "New House."

Every house became home; every house had its own flavor of life; every house evokes its own set of memories; every house left its mark upon my life.


  1. I don't think we ever named our houses but I do remember living in the pink house and the white house.

    Maria and Eric simply call their house Marjorie, the name of the lady who owned it before them.

  2. Hahaha, I call mine "messy" on occasion...I've heard you call yours "Meganized"... :o)

  3. I too have named some of the places I have lived. Our current house is named Marjorie (in honor of previous owner). We have also had the unfortunate experience of a Mouse House...