Once Upon a Time Part 2

Last week I received many questions and comments about my childhood home,
so here’s a quick tour of the exterior of the house and the nearby road.

This is not the ornate iron gate that marked the entrance to my childhood home, but it’s very similar. I know it’s difficult to see the carved pineapple finials in this photo. Why did the owner select the pineapple as a symbol? Throughout history pineapples were a common symbol of hospitality. In Victorian times edible pineapples were a status symbol of prosperity, because the fruit was rare and hard to grow. Unfortunately, many of the Victorian architectural elements of my childhood home including the gate and finials were removed and sold after I returned to the United States. I can’t remember what symbol was carved on the finials. Maybe I was too busy swinging on the gate to pay attention.
This is not my childhood home, but this photo of a house next door shows a better view of the front. My childhood home is a quintuplet. It’s one of five remaining identical detached houses built in a row in 1898. Current owners of the houses are not allowed to alter the exteriors. I can’t visit my childhood home as often as I would like, but it’s comforting to know it will be there and look the same on the outside.
This is a view of the back of my childhood home. The photo was taken from the road behind the house. It’s hard to tell from this angle that the rear garden area is an entire block deep. To the immediate left is the back entrance gate. You can see the roof of a structure, which is a car garage. It’s built on the site of the demolished Victorian carriage house. The French doors, which once opened onto a terrace, and steps down to the garden, have been replaced by the windows on the lower right.
I took this photo from what Americans would call a second floor window inside my childhood home. In England it would be called the first floor window. You can see the “pink house” as I called it. Years later I discovered that the “pink house” had been converted from stables, which were at the rear of an estate. You can barely see the outline of the estate house on the hill behind the “pink house.” It’s the first house I saw whenever I walked through the front gates to the road.
When I was eight years old, I had to turn to the right by our front gate and walk down the street to a curved part of the road. There I would wait for the school bus. On the way I passed by a high baize green fence and large wooden gates. Elderly gentlemen would smile, tip their straw hats, and say, “Hullo, dearie.” Then they would open a tall, narrow door, which blocked my view of what was on the other side of the fence. Luckily in 2008 the gates were open, and I took this photo of the private lawn bowling and tennis club founded in the nineteenth century.
The driveway to the left is the entrance to the private lawn tennis and bowling club. The red letterbox was placed in this wall in 1912. How do I know? It’s stamped on the metal exterior. I danced and twirled next to this letter box as I waited for the school bus, which often didn’t arrive for an hour. My penchant for creating stories began with that letter box. I would imagine the people who might have posted their letters through its slot, the secrets they shared, and the identity of the people who received their letters.

We’ve reached the end of the tour. Next week I’ll feature the real mansion for lords and ladies, which is a few blocks away. In the meantime, please reply with comments or questions. I promise not to drop them in the letterbox.

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