In 1953, my father took a job at Skippy Peanut Butter in downtown Portsmouth, necessitating a move from their home (and family)in California to Virginia. They rented homes in Park Manor and then in Shea Terrace, and then they decided it was time to buy a home of their own. In April 1957, they paid $17,500 for a house in Waterview, at 515 Nansemond Street. They used my mother’s veteran’s benefits to get a 15-year VA mortgage on the house.
Mom didn’t like the kitchen in the new house. The only cabinet space was a six-foot wide enameled metal base cabinet with a cast-iron double sink in the center. There was a drawer to the left and right, and four doors under the sink. It was pretty primitive. My mother took $500 of her own money and hired a carpenter to build a room full of knotty pine cabinets with wrought iron hardware. Yellowish/greenish Formica with a non-descript squiggly pattern (trimmed with a stainless steel edging) was the finishing touch. She also bought a fancy new GE electric stove with push-buttons on the console. The result was transformative, and after the work was all done, she came to love her “new” kitchen.
Mom spent a lot of time sitting on her screened-in porch, looking out at the spacious side yard. The sturdy canvas awnings with their scalloped edges together with the thick canopy of the tall pines provided a bit of relief on those hot summer days.
Whether Mom was relaxing on the porch or walking around the house, she’d often tell me, “I’m so grateful to live in this big beautiful house. Just so grateful.”
Hearing such things from a parent can have a deep and lasting impact on a child. My mother taught me how to love and appreciate old houses, and yet, it was not one of those “I’m teaching my child an important lesson here” moments. It was an abundance of love and gratitude that overflowed from her heart and right into mine. Her comments touched me deeply. In fact, I’d say it’s probably the main reason that I became an architectural historian.
I love old houses. I love everything about them. I love thinking about them and writing about them.
I’m so blessed to have a career where I can spend my days thinking about and writing about old houses.
And I’ve enjoyed having an old house of my own. It’s been a fun ride. And now it’s time to move on.
Enjoy the old photos! 🙂
Edited in May 2017: My “Happy Ever After” with Wayne – my husband – was destroyed in April 2016.
Eddie licks the beaters (always a fun thing to do) while standing in front of the original kitchen cabinet. When the house was built in 1925, this base cabinet, together with a small matching wall cabinet (to the right) were the only cabinets in the entire kitchen.
Eddie and my father in the kitchen. You can see a bit of this "remodeled kitchen" in the background.
My mother looking happy in her beloved home. Tommy Fuller, Jr. stands behind Tom Fuller Sr (seated), and Rickey is setting fire to something on the table. Both parents have a hand on Eddie to keep him still long enough for the shutter to click.
The two oldest boys got shiny new bikes in Summer 1959, and Eddie (the youngest boy) got a new baby sister. I'm pretty sure he would have preferred a red bike. The look on his face says it all. Great shot of our living room and foyer - and a stunned little brother.
Mom holds me up and away from the male land sharks.
Good picture of the fan light over the front door. Dad and I look very worried.
Eddie tries desperately to make the noise stop. I'm not sure, but I think he's offering me a corn dog. Judging by the look on my face, I'm giving the offer some serious consideration.
Eddie goes to sleep under the watchful eye of Lil' Bo Peep and Bugs Bunny. I saw this same Lil' Bo Peep applique in an episode of "I Love Lucy," and it was over "Little Rickey's" crib. I guess Lil' Bo Peep was a big item for boys in the mid-1950s.
We're probably in that boring 45-minute period, where we'd sit around and wait for the TV to warm up.
Rickey, Eddie and Tommy, about 1960.
Neighborhood kids gather for Rickey's 9th birthday party. That's me in the lower right, hoping that someone with more advanced neuro-muscular skills will turn my teddy bear right-side up.
The tall trees and canvas awnings worked together to keep the worst of the summer heat off Mom's favorite "room" - the sunporch.
Our house on Nansemond in 1973, following a big snowstorm. Photo was taken by Gerald B. Anderson and may not be used or reproduced without permission.
My family home in Waterview (Portsmouth) as seen in April 1957, when we moved in.
Here's our house in Norfolk - a 1925 Colonial Revival pretty in pink.
Our home as it appeared in 1948.
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