Thursday, November 02, 2006

There Goes The Neighborhood

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My childhood home, until I got married. Now, it's called a "Bungalow" or "Cottage", which justifies the high prices they get for them.

We went to Little Rock, for the first time in a long time, a couple of weeks ago. We were driving around, seeing what changes had been made since the last time we were there, and decided to drive through my old neighborhood in Pulaski Heights.

As we drove through, I got to thinking about how wide these streets used to seem when I was a child, and how far apart the houses seemed to be, and how big the yards.

I was five years old when we moved into the house. It was a new neighborhood, with few houses and lots of pine trees. In fact, friends of my parents couldn't believe we were moving "way out in the Heights". Now, it seems like almost the center of town. And the wide streets I saw through the eyes of my childhood are actually pretty narrow. The houses are close together, and they are much smaller than I remember.

My old house looks about the same, from the front,with a few cosmetic changes, such as a new front porch and different landscaping. There used to be a huge evergreen tree in the middle of the yard, which blocked most of the view of one side of the house. We got several pictures, one of the side, which shows an addition that someone built on the back of the house, behind where my bedroom was. Then, on the other side, we looked down the driveway, expecting to see the same detached garage that was there for so long. To our surprise, there was what appeared to be a guest house (or mother-in-law's quarters), instead of the garage.

I would love to see the house on the inside, but couldn't figure out a polite way to knock on the door and ask for a tour without causing the owner to call the police. Maybe some day, I'll drive down that street and there will be a for sale sign in front. Then, I can get the Realtor to show me the house.

We drove around the rest of the neighborhood and I was appalled to se the McMansions that have replaced a lot of the smaller houses, on those tiny lots. It is very depressing to see what is being done there. The big houses look ridiculous, and the smaller, original houses seem to be cowering next to them. It used to be such a quaint, quiet neighborhood, and now it has been raped by the yuppies and their hunger for ostentation, the right address, the right image. Someone used the term, "conspicuous consumption", and I think that fits the situation perfectly.

I'm not opposed to change, but instead of building those big, honking estates that take every inch of the lot, leaving no room for trees, yards or any other form of landscaping, why didn't they just buy a nice big lot in some area designed for those huge monstrosities?

It makes me sad and, I just realized, I'm also angry.

11 comments:

Alan G said...

I'm glad you shared the photo of the old home place Betty. It still looks like it remains quite an attractive old home. There is not a day goes by that I wouldn't like to drive over to Chester Street and take a few photos of the house I basically grew up in but given the condition of the area now days I would probably end up being shot. A body was found in the bushes next to the house next door not too long back.

You are quite right about the homes in that area (the Heights). When I returned to this area in 1990 I looked for a home in that area but it seemed that either one was about ready to to cave in or....someone wanted half a gazillion dollars for them.

My grandparents lived on Cedar street just a few houses off Markham. Several years back someone was murdered in that house as I recall.

Sad is what it all makes me because it is where some of my most fondest memories lie. Sometimes I just want to get in the car, drive back over there and be six years old again and walk across the yard with my little hand in my mama's hand but it is all gone...

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patsy said...

the house where i grew up ,my bother lives in now so i can go home.

Maya's Granny said...

It is a real shame when they build these huge McManions on small lots. No sense of proportion.

Annie said...

Hi Betty, I drove around the Heights today and took a few picturs of cottages. I didn't see yours - which street is it on? I did see McMansions sprouting here and there but they didn't attract my interest much; one wonders if big families live in them or just people with too much money.

mjd said...

Your old house looks like a home. I do not remember seeing bigger homes replacing smaller homey versions in our county. But, maybe our Northern yuppies move out of the cities, and build the big homes in the suburbs. Or maybe the yuppies are waiting until my husband and myself move out of our home of 34 years before they build their mansions here in Lake County, Indiana.

Betty said...

Annie, the house is on South Country Club.

Alan: It's hard to see your past "disappear", even though you know change must occur.

Annie said...

I really like Country Club. When I moved to Little Rock there was a house for sale (not yours) on that street and I thought long and hard about it. I ended up buying in west Little Rock where I could get more square footage and a better floor plan for less money - but I sure liked the location and the character of the house on Country Club.

I'll drive by and look for yours sometime soon.

Best to you, Annie

John said...

Everyone always says the same thing when they visit the old neighbourhood (British spelling), "the streets seem so narrow". The street where I lived in Sarf Lundun (Cockney spelling) has now become 'gentryfied' i.e. expensive. It used to be poor working class and then West Indian immigrant. I now live in 'bungalowland' on the Kent coast with all the other old gits.

Newt said...

The house I was born in is next to my Aunt and Uncle's house so I see it every year. We would never go inside again because we have gotten inklings as to how destroyed it has been. Last I heard they ripped out the parkay flooring and closed in the vaulted ceilings becuase they were "Too high" WHO closes up vaulted ceilings???????

The residential neighborhood looks exactly the same. Of course where all the orange groves and dairy farms were we now have strip malls and mega plexes. But surprisingly the houses are all still there. And thankfully most of the current owners continue to take great pride in their landscaping etc...