i have this photo of my maternal grandfather:
that’s his handwriting on the back:
e.c. stands for eau claire, wisconsin. i drove there last saturday to spend the afternoon with a friend. i brought the picture, and she and i found our way to 420 garfield.
when i pulled up, i knew i was at the right address: the position of the front door had changed, and the house was blue instead of white, but there was no question it was the house my grandfather lived in briefly as a child.
i knocked on the door, and a gentleman with 2 young daughters answered. i explained that my grandfather had lived there, and i showed him the photo. i asked if he minded if i took a few photos of the exterior of the house. he asked if i’d like to come in, but i declined — it felt too intrusive, and my grandfather hadn’t spoken much of the home itself, so there was no emotional tie to the interior for me.
the owner of the home then excused himself for a minute, and came back with the home’s original title, which dated back to the late 1800′s. we searched for my great-grandparent’s names, but could not find them. ithen remembered that my grandfather’s father died in the 1918 spanish flu epidemic, and there was a good chance that my grandfather and his mother were renters in 420. i have a written history of that time period of my grandfather’s life, but it is buried away, somewhere in a box. he died 3 years ago next week, and even a few years have passed, i still think of him daily, thanks to the little reminders (like the photo) that i’ve saved and scattered around my home.