We visited a few important buildings while in Franklin.
My first home.
My mom loves to tell two stories about this home, which – back in the day – was a place of business. I’m not sure if they paid rent or if Dad just worked driving to pick up bodies (what?) in exchange for lodging, but they brought me home from the hospital to reside on the second floor of the funeral home.
Yep. I lived in a funeral home. Upstairs.
It’s beautiful, isn’t it? No longer a funeral home, but somebody’s gorgeous residence.
The second story is about the day Mom parked her Opel in front of this house and walked half a block to Anderson’s Furniture Store where she worked. A drunk driver failed, spectacularly, in his effort to navigate the narrow street. He bashed into the Opel not once, but twice. After that, we got a Pinto station wagon, if my memory serves…
My third home.
Is it any wonder that my heart’s desire is for a big, wrap-around porch? It’s hard to believe we lived in this stunning home – which was painted yellow 50 years ago, when we lived there. Mom and Dad rented the upstairs; I don’t remember much from the inside of the house, but Peggy Jamison lived right across the street, and the river ran across her back yard. We walked the few blocks to 7th Street School from this house; hard to believe now, but back then, we were five years old, and we walked to kindergarten.
One of my most vivid memories from my early years is something that happened on this screened-in porch. I pinched my finger on something while playing with my toys, and I instinctively said, “Sh*t”. My mom was standing there, unbeknownst to me; she instantly reacted.
What did you say, young lady?
I remember backpedaling and trying to convince her that I’d said, Shoo, fly! because…a fly was bothering me…
I don’t think she fell for it. I’m curious to know if she remembers that incident.
I also wonder where I learned that word….Dad?
My piano teacher’s house.
I walked up these steps into Millie Bark’s house once a week. To the left of the front door is a small study; built-in bookshelves nestled in the corner with a drop-leaf desk, a spinet piano tucked up against the wall. Antiques were everywhere, and the house was often littered with boarders – young musicians, teachers, and theater people occasionally lounging in the kitchen or the sitting room. Mrs. Bark was a widow with white hair, bracelets and bangles jingle-jangling, long fingers, and a filtered cigarette balanced between her fingers. She was classy, mysterious, sophisticated, and generous. I suppose, in hind-sight, she was probably distracted; I was one of many students traipsing through her door with level one music books in hand.
But Mrs. Bark was the perfect teacher for me. She taught me how to read music, insisted that I work hard, but let me play by ear as well. I wish I knew more about her, particularly her teaching methods. Now that I teach my own beginning pianists, I would love to know how our styles coincide. Something tells the imprint was large; I think I carry a great deal of her relaxed, music-loving attitude.
We did touch base a few times; she knew I was pursuing a career in music. The last time I was prompted to write her a letter, thanking her for her influence, her daughter called to tell me that it had arrived too late; she had passed away the week before.
I have yet to live in a place that truly feels like “home”; in 50+ years, nothing has captured my imagination. From this glimpse into my history, the bar was set high. I’m grateful.