I adored the modest detailing of the houses that pay homage to Colonial and English influences. Our dad worked for Swift & Company and was transferred out of Chicago to New Jersey around 1958. My brother pointed out, “You were probably conceived in that house.” I haven’t shared this story with too many people. The modest house had about an amazing dozen closets which was a perfect fit for my books, files and bobbleheads. I’ve had a blast visiting mid- century modern stores like Dial M for Modern in Chicago, Pre to Post Modern in Nashville (long before I took this plunge) and the awesome bc modern in Milwaukee.
After more than a dozen trips to Westchester talking to neighbors, owners of Greek diners and the folks at Christopher’s Speakeasy, I discovered humility that is important to me. Midcentury style is framed by an organic spirit and minimalism. Of course 1952 is not all that has been built up to be.
In days past I retreated to the only chair in the living room. I looked out the picture window at old trees on a quiet street.
There were no shadows and I wondered if I was truly alone.
I forgot about those pesky village codes and for me, moving has always been like transporting the old Ringling Bros. Even though I haven’t settled in, a test vinyl run sounded great in a low ceiling basement with a Nashville RCA Studio B checkerboard floor.
But my work has been framed by a sense of fascination. Our father always installed a manual wall pencil sharpener in the basement of every house we lived in.
I live in Ukranian Village where I have become an old dude. In Westchester I’m one of the youngest guys in the neighborhood.
The fine 2006 book “House As A Mirror of Self (Exploring the Deeper Meaning of Home)” by Clare Cooper Marcus mentions a gentleman who grew up in a small town, lived in the city for a long time and was contemplating a move to Arizona.
The old timers told me the village is so boring they call it “Deadchester.” Westchester was founded in 1925 to recreate an English village. It was within walking distance of a grocery store, a neighborhood diner and a small bar, which is all I really need. I mentioned to my brother that during the mid-1950s our parents lived on a similar odd sounding street in Westchester. There is no Cinerama nostalgia for minorities and women. My neighbors are African-American, Hispanic and Italian.I found a red brick house with original decorative iron porch supports and matching shutters of the mid-1950s. They died in 2015 but our mom kept a meticulous typewritten diary of her life. I recently moved a file from my book “The People’s Place (Soul Food Restaurants and Reminiscences From the Civil Rights Era to Today).” A plastic, typewritten file card tumbled out of a box.The house was nestled back off the street to fit into modest landscaping. It was given to me by activist James Meredith at a restaurant in Jackson, Miss. Before I packed it up I wanted to buy a small midcentury modern ranch house. I was born in Berwyn and knew that was the bungalow belt. My Tiki friends Dave Vasta and Dave Krys live in the near western suburbs.