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BBHQ Boomer Essays:

Our House is a Very Very Fine House – NOT

Our Boomer-In-Charge at BBHQ, Hershel Chicowitz, writes about boomer memories and current events... from a boomer’s perspective. He is sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, some-
times a little of each. We hope you get a kick out of our Boomer Essays.

When I was about twelve, a huge sewer pipe broke up around Warrensville Center Road, and the basement of every house within a quarter mile was flooded. We had nearly eight feet of water in our basement. The basement... you know... where the heater, the washer, the dryer, and the tools and the workshop are; that’s where we kept all the big, important, expensive stuff. (Yep; that’s the laundry room in our basement over there on the right.) So what happened? I donno, exactly... the water went away, we did a load of laundry, and that was that.

This essay is available in its entirety to all visitors. Enjoy!

Providing evidence that midlife crisis is a communicable disease, I am here to report to you this week that midlife crisis has infected.... my house. Yep; this year, just like my body, everything has fallen apart in my house. First it was the air conditioner, then the water heater; then the roof leaked. Next, the washer in every faucet seemed to go bad at the same time. Last month a good day was when I came home and didn’t find two inches of water on the floor and my dog doing the backstroke across the living room floor.

My sister and I grew up in a three-story house in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. (That’s us on the front steps.) The house was over 30 years old when we moved there. But it weathered the raising of two rambunctious kids and a dog, 19-below zero temperatures in the midwest snowbelt, and anything else we could throw at it – and throw we did.
Our House - 1966

When I was about twelve, a huge sewer pipe broke up around Warrensville Center Road, and the basement of every house within a quarter mile was flooded. We had nearly eight feet of water in our basement. The basement... you know... where the heater, the washer, the dryer, and the tools and the workshop are; that’s where we kept all the big, important, expensive stuff. (Yep; that’s the laundry room in our basement over there on the right.) So what happened? I donno, exactly... the water went away, we did a load of laundry, and that was that.


Someone Else’s House – 2012
One summer my dad replaced most of the galvanized pipes that hung just below the ceiling in the basement with copper ones. Maybe that’s the answer. Our house in Cleveland had my dad. My house here in Tampa has the metaphysical opposite of Bob Vila residing in it.

We left that house in the spring of 1967. But every time I go back to Cleveland, I drive down the street, stop, stare, and remember. How I’d love to run up those 13 steps and around the corner on the landing to the second floor... just one more time...

Shortly after I moved into my own house, I had some trouble with the toilet. One night it just would not shut off. So I reached for the shutoff valve near the side of the tank. Well, I must have twisted it a bit too hard. The valve didn’t turn; the pipe did. Water began spraying all over the bathroom. Now, this was sometime after midnight in the middle of the week. This is not what I needed.

No problem, I figured... I’ll just go down to the basement where the main shutoff is and turn off all the water in the house. I figured I could deal with the toilet in the morning. I was about halfway through the living room heading quickly toward the kitchen when it hit me: I don’t have a basement. I don’t even have any basement stairs!

So where is the stupid shutoff? Well, about 2,000 gallons later at three in the morning, my college buddy and former plumber’s assistant, Dale Bruwelheide, found it – buried 22 inches down in the flower bed in the front yard. Now why didn’t I know that? Anyway, Dale fixed the leak for me; but shortly after that, he changed his phone number and I have not heard from him since. Can’t say as I blame him.

A man has got to know his limitations. – Dirty Harry.

Fine. Anything to do with plumbing around my house now requires a professional – an expensive professional. I can handle most of the electrical stuff; the electricity shutoff is right where it should be: outside, on the side of the house. Simple. Gutters and downspouts? Nope; too much like plumbing. But I am the only guy in the neighborhood with 27 telephone outlets.... and over 35 telephones, including two pay phones. (Come on... it’s a hobby.) Thirty years ago, the local phone company would have shut me down and had me arrested if they knew what was going on in my house. Remember, you were not allowed to install a telephone extension by yourself; it took a three-week wait and an expensive visit from the phone company.

Today, as far as I know, there is no local phone company – just a monthly phone bill. No one answers the telephone there anymore. I consider that to be a victory, though. I simply outlasted the SOBs. (I am a realist, however. I hold out no such hope for the IRS; they are like cockroaches; they will be here forever.)

But my little, ailing, aging house in Tampa, Florida? I’m not so sure. Certainly it is suffering a midlife crisis of sorts. I guess we’ll both have to work together to get past this. Can you spell “duct tape”? I take great comfort in knowing that there is a 24-hour Home Depot nearby.

I have lived in this single-story, concrete block and brick house for nearly a quarter of a century. It seems like no time at all. I grew up in a three-story house in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. I lived there for 14 years – it seems like forever.


The saga continues:

        Our House - Part 2: Home Improvement
        Our House - Part 3: Reclaiming Our Past
        Mr. BrownThumb

A BBHQ Pop Quiz: From the BBHQ Lyrics You Know You Know collection, finish the last line; it’s from a classic Eagles song:
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    ______________!


Your final answer is....




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The BBHQ Feature Album is "Old Friends Live on Stage (Deluxe Edition) (2 CD/1 DVD)," by Simon & Garfunkel. If you were fortunate enough to see them in concert in 2003, I do not have to sell you. The concert was terrific! This album collection includes 55 songs, plus their new recording, "Citizen of the Planet," and one of the songs sung by the Everly Brothers during the concert. The DVD was recorded during their concert in Madison Square Garden in 2003. For any S&G fan, this is a must have! But then, you knew that already, didn't you?  Old Friends Live on Stage (Deluxe Edition) (2 CD/1 DVD)

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