420 garfield

i have this photo of my maternal grandfather:

420 garfield

that’s his handwriting on the back:

420 garfield

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.

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.

420 garfield

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.

14 responses to “420 garfield”

  1. jenn says:

    this is so sweet. i drive by Ann’s old house every so often (it’s right near Roosevelt High) and I long to go inside because I have many memories of it. a beautiful story about a wonderful man.

  2. Anna says:

    That’s so sweet. All too often history like that is lost. I’m glad you’re able to hold on to that connection with your grandfather. We have lots of writen info on my mother’s side but barely anything on my father’s side. I should grill him next time he’s in town. And maybe you should scan and mail a copy of the photo to the current owners as a thank you. I know I would love to have more of a glimpse at my house’s history.

  3. heather says:

    i love this.

  4. jackie says:

    wonderful! i love that you found the house and photographed it. It looks in wonderful condition. What a lovely response from the current owner. All of my grandparent’s are gone now and I miss them incredibly.

  5. Meghan says:

    How wonderful that you were able to find the house and snap a few pictures! It’s amazing to see how much the house has changed in 80 years, but that it still sort of looks the same.

  6. regina says:

    How lovely you got to go there. I love seeing the then and now pics of the house. It’s also nice that the present owner was so welcoming.

    If I want to visit my grandfather’s childhood home, I just head to the Brooklyn Museum. It’s original rooms are housed there as the oldest house in NY, originally built from a dismantled ship. Oddly enough, when I moved to NYC way back when, I met a woman (who I am still friends with 20 years later) whose ancestors were the ones who built the house. The universe is a funny thing.

  7. cindy says:

    i love how you found the house and had the nerve to knock on the door resulting in such a special memory. your photos look great and it’s nice to know that the house is pretty much intact. grandfather’s can be the best. i only knew one of mine and he was the coolest guy i’ve ever known. enjoy your weekend!

  8. UK lass in US says:

    I remember going with my parents to look at the house where they used to live. I’m embarrassed to say that they were peering through the gaps in the wall so obviously that a little lad walked up and said ‘it’s not for sale, you know!’

    So many of my grandparents’ generation have passed away since I moved over here. I gave my dad the task of writing down some of the family history while there were still witnesses to remember it. My mum’s dad died when she was a baby, though, so there’s a big blank when it comes to my maternal grandfather.

  9. Lisa says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. What wonderful connections- past & present and you & your grandfather.

  10. emily says:

    How very interesting. I must say I am impressed with the way the exterior of house was modernized, yet still is in keeping with the original.

  11. aimee says:

    this is an incredible story and a beautiful house! i used to go to eau claire every year with my grandparents – it was a pit stop on our way up to the way up to our cabin in lovely siren, wisconsin!

  12. Chandler says:

    Wow, that is amazing! I love looking for the subjects of old photographs, and seeing if they’re still there. I wonder if my great-grandchildren will do that with my photos one day. I’m so glad you went looking for the place, and found it.

  13. monica says:

    how lovely. I love old family history. Give us more!

  14. kim says:

    wow. i love that this stuff matters to you and others. a friend was over tonight and said that she believes houses have a spirit–old houses, especially. i want to know who lived in my house. i love that the current owner brought out the title…going back to the late 1800s. fantastic. i’m inspired.

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