Friday, August 25, 2017

Saying goodbye to 'home base,' 321 Old Farm Road

Moving on: Banks family "home base" for nearly 50 years.
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When my mom first saw our new house in Mount Lebanon, Pa., in the summer of 1968, she cried. The living room walls were a god-awful shade of purple and the house sorely needed some TLC. No way the place felt like home.

But those ugly walls were soon covered with a new color of paint, and the house at 321 Old Farm Road indeed became an amazing home for John and Peggy Banks and their three kids. For nearly 50 years, the red-brick house on the best tree-lined street in town was our "home base." For us, it was as easy to slip into as a favorite pair of old shoes.

Numbers embedded in my brain for decades.
This morning, the Banks Era ended. The sale to a terrific young couple was completed. Now it's time for them to create their own memories on Old Farm.

My sister, who bore the brunt of getting the old place prepared to sell, was ready to let go. So was my brother, the financial brain of the family who helped make the real estate deal happen. My wife said it's time for me to pass the torch, too. But it may take more than a nudge for me to let go of the past.

The memories are numerous and wonderful. In freshly fallen snow in the front yard, we celebrated the Steelers' first Super Bowl victory. In the backyard, I played catch after school with my dad, once snapping off a curve ball so hellacious that I thought I was destined for The Show. (That pitch was never duplicated by me, and I never came within a billion miles of MLB. But it sure was fun to dream big as a kid.)

In the basement, we played pool and darts with such characters as "Flea," "Booby" and Ernie B, laughing and brawling much of the time. More than once we closed the porch awning to avoid detection and rolled a keg of beer or two into the backyard while our parents were on vacation. We thought no one knew.

My dad, who died in July 2016, was a longtime NRA member.
He put this sticker on the basement door.
In our small, second-floor bedroom, my brother and I built a 22-story house of baseball cards, aiming to set a world record. There's a Polaroid of that stashed in a drawer somewhere.

The place has quirks and a little magic. We'll never forget the sound dirty clothes made hitting the bottom of the laundry chute from the second floor. If you didn't have a laundry chute as a kid, you missed out on a cool slice of life.

Heads-up, new family: The doors for two of the bedrooms stick. It will take time to master opening them without making that odd "thump" sound.

The upstairs bathroom still has a funky pink-and-blue floor and tiles -- that look may date to 1951, when the house was built. Every time I gazed into the mirror in that bathroom I felt much better looking. Now THAT'S magic.

Damn, I'm really going to miss the sound the little knobs on the railing leading upstairs make when they slide up and down.

Here's what else I'll remember: taking photos of our beautiful, young daughters in the fall leaves in the front yard; my lovely wife in the rocking chair in the living room; deliveries by the long-ago milkman in that aluminum box by the back door; cherry trees and my dad's tremendous garden (rhubarb!) in the backyard; the antenna for my shortwave radio stretched from my bedroom to the huge tree in the side yard; the thwack of a plastic, sock-filled hockey puck hitting the wooden garage door; Mom sitting on a porch chair, the sound of wind chimes the only background noise; reading my first book about the Civil War and stumbling on the pronunciation of Antietam; our cocker spaniel's intense dislike for my friend Bob Gannon; and great neighbors such as the Pelusis, Fosters, Garrisons, Rinalds and so many more.

And, most of all, we remember Mom and Dad, the heartbeats of the house. When my sister, brother and I moved away, they made sure their doors were always wide open for us and our families. Our great hope is that this transition would meet their approval.

So see ya, 321 Old Farm Road. It has been a tremendous run for us. Although we won't be there physically, we know the great memories we cherish will always allow us to touch "home."

A final visit to the bathroom with the funky pink-and-blue tiled floor.
An old-time laundry chute, one of the cool features I will miss.
I'll miss the sound made by sliding these knobs up and down the railing.
Heads-up, new family: This door is a little quirky.
A view of the backyard, where memories were made.

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  1. Hi John, We sold our home in Bristol 3 years ago after 48 years and never looked back. So It an be done. Hope all is well with you and yours.

  2. Les: Always good to hear from you. Hope you guys are doing well!