You never forget your first house. I know I haven’t.
My first house was the one pictured above, 606 East Third Avenue, Roselle, NJ. It was a pretty Dutch Colonial on a little hill, and even though we moved away in 1972, I’ve never, ever stopped loving it or missing it.
Right there in the photo you can see the azalea bushes my grandfather, “Pop Pop,” Theodore Yoerger, planted when I was a toddler, with me watching from the front window. They aren’t in bloom in the shot, but they’re there.
All four of my grandparents were still alive and well when we lived in that house, Pop Pop, his wife, Mom Mom, Margaret Ford Yoerger, and Claire and Patrick Quinn. They were the finest people I have ever known. When I think of the house, I think of them. Mom Mom took care of me during the day when my mother went back to work. She’d walk me to and from my first school, good old Harrison School, three blocks away.
The backyards were the sizes of postage stamps, but what the residents of East Third Avenue could grow in them! I can recall petunias, portulacas, sweet alyssum, firecrackers, geraniums, and lilacs, all in a yard that was smaller than a Queen-sized bed. And the roses! There were pink and raspberry-colored roses that grew on a trellis situated, of all places, over our garbage cans. There was even a tropical-looking Mimosa tree in the center of the yard between our place and our neighbors. It was the early 1960s, when the world still had class. If you had a tiny yard, you made the most of it.
The neighbors made the place even more special. I didn’t realize it then, but the heads of most of the families near ours were men who had been in the service during World War II, brave guys who had been a part of the liberation of Europe. They mentioned it in passing sometimes while sitting outside on folding chairs on warm summer nights. I wonder now if they ever knew they were heroes.
As for our house, which had been built in 1920, I loved it. I loved my powder blue room at the top of the stairs. I loved the gigantic mirror that took up almost one full wall in the living room. Our bathroom tile was a gorgeous shade of buttercup yellow. Mom and Dad’s room was pink. The kitchen was painted Candy Apple Red.
I always wanted to see it again. Always.
Several years ago, approximately in 2010, I found, for the first time, a listing online for 606 East Third Avenue, Roselle. I looked through the photos with the kind of excitement that I imagine one would feel if they’d just won the lottery. The poor house, though! Every single room had been painted a sickly mozzarella cheese white. Some walls had been knocked down, others added. The beautiful place I remembered looked rundown and sad, but hey, it was still standing, and I’d take the photos of it any way I could get them, since home is home. In one photo, there was the spot in the dining room where our old hi-fi used to be, the one on which I’d heard my first Jerry Herman musical song, “Hello, Dolly,” and our Mitch Miller records, important since my cousin was on his television program, and more. There was the living room where, Dad tells me, since I don’t quite remember it, I’d watched Lee Harvey Oswald get shot when I was two and a half. Another photo was of my old room! I could identify it by the location of the radiators. Same deal with all the rooms. It was so wonderful to see, to the point I started sobbing, and I hoped with all my heart that one day someone who would love it would buy it.
Well, someone did! The house is for sale again, and it looks absolutely incredible! It seems especially so this time around, after having seen those other pathetic photos a few years ago. My house has made a comeback, and a great one at that! The kitchen is green now, the dining room a dark mango, and both look fantastic. My old room is once again blue. Kudos to the decorator! If I knew your name, I’d recommend you.
Someday I would love to buy it back. In the meantime, the house is being sold by Coldwell Banker, and I couldn’t resist writing a blog post on it. If you want a gorgeous house in Roselle, New Jersey that you’ll love your whole life long, I am pleased beyond measure to present it right here, and Coldwell isn’t even bribing me to do so. This house is great! Take a look: