Finding magic on Dayton Street | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | Jan 18, 2017

I don’t recall many details about my family’s move to Edmonds, considering its enormous significance. I was 7. I remember the little Lake City house my family moved from, the tiny bedroom my brother and I shared, sleeping in Army surplus bunks our dad painted blue.

Small was fine. I had no idea what it would be like to live in a big house.

Then one fall evening, our parents took my brother and me to see a house in Edmonds. I don’t know why they didn’t take us on a Saturday afternoon, but there was magic in that night.

Our dad parked the Pontiac in front of the house at 324 Dayton. The porch light glowed. We walked up the steps. Our dad unlocked the door and asked us to wait while he turned on indoor lights.

Standing on the shadowy porch, I stared, mesmerized, at the moths beating their wings against the dusty glass of the porch light.

Our excited father probably ran through the empty house, turning on every light, upstairs and down, before he returned for us. Presumably, our parents already had purchased the house. In any case, my brother Warren and I were eager to have a first look.

The first thing we saw was a tall wooden record player in the middle of the living room, the only furnishing left in the house. I don’t recall what became of the old Victrola. I only remember there was a record on it – I wish I remembered what! – and I remember using our fingers to spin the record. I think the ancient Victrola was a clue to my father’s – and brother’s – future ownership of Bradbury’s TV, selling RCA Victor products.

My brother and I admired the big stone fireplace in the living room – we’d never had a fireplace. We investigated the square, wooden pillars on either side of the passage to the living room from the entry hall.

There was just enough space between each pillar and the adjacent wall to scoot through, sideways. I would do that hundreds of times through the years.

Next, we ran across the worn linoleum floor of the dining room, past the big oil-burning heater and swung the amazing hinged kitchen door back and forth, back and forth, before losing interest in the kitchen.

We scarcely glanced at the concrete laundry tub and washing machine beyond the kitchen.

The upstairs!

Clattering up the broad wooden steps, turning at the landing, my brother and I checked out the bathroom – featuring a big tub with clawed feet! We zoomed through the open area beyond the top of the stairs, unaware it would become our mother’s sewing space, with her Singer treadle machine, hope chest and rocking chair.

We sorted out the bedrooms – the largest, clearly our parents’. The second featured a door leading to a low-ceilinged attic, obviously destined to become a model train center.

The third room, perfect for me, had two windows facing a hawthorn tree and morning light.

Two months later, my family moved to Edmonds. Somehow, going forward into 2017, I like to think about that move that shaped my life forever.

I suspect everyone can remember a change in the geography of life that’s made all the difference in the years since.


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