Sunday, March 17, 2013

You *Can* Go Home Again. Online.

Oh wow.

This afternoon I walked past the elementary school where I attended 6th grade. Then strolled just a bit farther and stood in front of my junior high school. 

Then I turned around and stepped past the same houses I passed while walking home from school at ages 11 - 14, until I reached my old home which happened to be the church where my dad pastored. (Yes, we lived inside a church those years. Long story.) 

After that, I crossed the street to my grandparents' landlords' house (dear church members), but I couldn't step down the actual alleyway where my grandparents' cute cottage stood with two others, all backed by a country-like grassy lot, where beyond that, a house with a grapevine arbor still, to this day, sits all farm-like. In a very suburby-suburb.

Why couldn't I step down that alleyway? The Street View camera wouldn't let me. I even got a bit teary-eyed, for I needed to see their house! To maybe find them still there waiting at the green wood-framed screened door for me. But walking down that far proved impossible, for I was technically 3,000 miles away from my grandparents' home of 40 years ago and that camera was my only connection. And it stopped me.

So I chose the Birds Eye View, instead, and found their house that way, from above, like a bird. And stared awhile. And remembered so much... and came away with a full heart.

Again, oh wow.

As my title today says, you can go home again. Today. Online.

There are lots of ways to walk past the houses you knew as a child, but here, below, is how I did it. It's fast. Easy, though you may have to learn how to make the arrows take you where you wish to go:

Choose a street address you remember from your childhood and type it into your address bar (google it if you wish) then add a comma, then

What might likely happen--I'm making no promises to anybody--ha!--- is that a nearby house will pop up as being currently for sale or for sale at a previous time. Click on that address. Now, if there's a photo of the house for sale or a map, look above it where it says Street View. Click.

Then start walking. Remembering. Click on the arrow in the street. Look at houses you pass. Smile when you seem to pass invisibly through the occasional oncoming car. heh. Use the arrows in the top left corner to turn around or to view the houses on the other side of the street. 

Amble. Go anywhere you wish. Find your childhood home or where your grandparents or friends lived or your former school. If there's only a parking lot there now or a newer home, just be thankful for your memories. And move on.

I so enjoyed my trip back to Sacramento--so little house-wise had changed and I almost felt like I'd returned to 1973. I even saw the walnut tree I used to climb on windy days so to imagine myself on a carnival ride, what with the swaying branches. 

And I nearly felt like my grandparents still lived in that cute cottage-y place with the wooden screen door, the white picket fence and coffee cans of hens and chicken plants. But no.... they live in a much grander, lovelier home now. Yet I can't get anywhere near that home, online or otherwise. For me, that heavenly place is only reachable through my mind and heart.

But still, I do try sometimes to visit their new place in my thoughts. I always come away smiling from there, too.

 Here's where I lived as a very dreamy-eyed 16-year-old. Click on Street View and you'll see my house, the church parsonage at the time. (The house was white with brick when I lived there and my bedroom was at the top left-hand side, painted an awesome apple green.) I very, very often walked around this pretty neighborhood (to the left only!) and on up to the cemetery then through there to the city library. :)

Oh my! Over an hour later I've seen a total of 6 (!) houses I lived in as a child and teenager and 3 which Tom, Naomi and I shared together. Fun!



Terra said...

That is a fun idea and I will try it for a trip down memory lane.

Bonnie said...

Belated happy birthday, Debra. My original birthday wish must not have made it all the way into the comments but I was there! It sounded like you had a great day.

Anonymous said...

It is fun to see places you used to live, from that view. My grandparents lived on a farm, which today is only fields, the buildings all gone. But in my mind, I can still go back there!! My great grandparents home also gone, in the same tiny town.

So you lived in Sacramento? What years was that?
Elizabeth in VA

Debra said...

Terra--let me know if you enjoyed what you found!

Bonnie--so sorry your birthday wish didn't show up the first time you sent it, but thanks so much for this one! I do enjoy making my birthday last as long as I can so a wish anytime is great. :)

Elizabeth--- let's see.... I lived in North Highlands around 1969-1970 and then North Sacramento 1970 - 1973. We moved a lot--not my favorite thing, but I am glad for the people I met in each place.

My grandparents lived in Sacramento (across the street from where we did) from around 1972 until 1979-ish, so we often kept visiting them in that area after we moved away and that's why it's still all pretty fresh in my mind. :) Did you ever live in that area or know anyone who did?

Thanks for commenting, Everyone! Blessings, Debra

Anonymous said...

I would love to go home again on line but my old home town is so changed it is almost unrecognizable. I have friends that still live there and the town that was once a beautiful small town I loved dearly, is now lifeless and in shatters. I went on line a few years back and it was heart wrenching. The streets we, my grandparents and other relatives lived on for all their lives are like ghettos. Very very sad. It does my heart good though to know other places stayed the same and people still thrive there. :-) Sarah

Anonymous said...

Yes, Debra, I lived in Sacramento from age 4-14, leaving in Aug. 1966. Those were the very worst years of my life, mostly because of the abuse I had at home. One reason I have not the least desire to return. I am planning to go see an aunt however, in July or so, while we are out West...who lives in Citrus Heights. She understands my reasons for not wanting to go to Sacto...and says just come see her, which will be ok. Then we moved away to Coeur d' Alene, Idaho and that was my one year of heaven on earth!! One HUGE difference was in the churches of both places...same denomination even. Unbelievable. That one year in Cd'A has helped to sustain me through other deep water years since then. I still am in fairly often contact with 2 of my friends from the ONE YEAR I lived there. That is what so amazes me in can live 15 years in a place and only have 2 good friends...go another place and within 1 year have MANY good friends. So strange. Places do have personalities too. We just have to more about to find them perhaps. Interesting you lived in one of the areas I did. We used to go to North Highlands a couple times a year, following church on Sunday evening and have a great time of singing, eating and visiting (was called "Singspiration" in those days)...ever hear of that?? HA!!

I must admit hubby and I have very much enjoyed our sojourn here in VA so far (5 months) of the better places we have lived too. Living in NC was ok. Not great, but not the worst. But I do not really like summers out here...just plain too hot!!
Elizabeth in VA now...