To the owners of my childhood home:

First, I want to say that the backyard used to be way cooler. You’ll notice the wooden treehouse back there has a faint pink tint on the inside from what appears to be chalk paint… I can assure you I have no idea how that happened. Whoever made that mistake may have heard their dad let the F-bomb fly for the first time when he found out. There was once a massive oak tree in the dead center and it shaded more than half the yard. A family took Christmas photos several years in a row wearing traditional Norwegian sweaters in front of that tree. In 2010 the entire thing was claimed by an F4 tornado, sucked clean from the ground roots and all. You missed out – it was a gorgeous tree. Sorry.

If you set up a row of pop cans in front of that stretch of fabric hung on the wooden fencing, you could shoot at them with a BB gun and only a few of the bullets may sneak through the cracks into the alley behind the house. Only a few though.

In the house, through the mud room and down the stairs you’ll find the computer room. Ah yes, a computer room. You know, the room designated specifically for the computer monitor and a big box where you can insert your CD-rom computer games. The brown shag carpet and wood paneling come together to create the perfect ambiance for someone to fire up the dial-up internet and Google things like “thongs” because their mom wouldn’t tell them what they were. One might panic at the thought of being caught and try to dilute their browser history with images of waterfalls and puppies. So anyways that’s the computer room.

The brown carpet and wood paneling continues into that bedroom at the back of the basement. The furniture is probably different now but there was once a bed with a peach colored comforter where a little girl and her grandma used to cuddle. They read scary stories from a book of riddles and the little girl promised her grandma that she wouldn’t tell mom how late they were up giggling together.

From there you’ll find the laundry room/home gym/play-pretend-schoolhouse. At first glance, the cement floors, walls, and ceilings don’t make for the coziest play area but a group of girls may have spent hours sitting at those garage sale desks, scribbling on that chalk board on the wall, playing make-believe school. Two thirds of them grew up to be teachers.

Upstairs there’s that hall of bedrooms. Three of them. Two sisters shared the first one. Winnie the Pooh wallpaper was scraped off and replaced with murals of flowers and bugs and butterflies in glow in the dark paint. The next bedroom was once lined with sailboat wallpaper. The built-ins housed piles upon piles of action figures that girls might’ve stolen to be boyfriend-girlfriend with the Barbies in the schoolroom downstairs. And at the very end of the hall, mom and dad slept. That stretch of hallway may not seem like much to you, stranger, but a little girl used to sprint from her room to that room as if the hall went on for miles. The nightmares and tummy aches disintegrated with every stride and when she swung the door open, everything faded away. It’s funny how the mere presence of my mom and dad made everything okay. I suppose some things never change.

Congratulations on the new house. Sorry about all the scuffs on the linoleum and the pencil marks on the inside of the pantry door. However, take note of my significant growth spurt in ’06. The place is incredibly outdated now and I understand if you must gut the whole thing and redecorate, but just know that the wallpaper and wood paneling surrounded a few really great childhoods. Know that whosoever feet crawl, waddle or sprint down that hallway at night, the walls of that house will remain in their memories for decades. And Dad, I know I never properly admitted this but I did attempt to color the interior of my treehouse with pink chalk paint.

4 thoughts on “To the owners of my childhood home:”

  1. Our memories are the same! That was a great home…even with the chalky play house! Your mom and dad had three great kids who each contributed to wonderful memories that will last a Lifetime! Thank you for waking those memories! I love you!

    Mark Fillhouer

    Fillhouer & Associates LLC 14620 Wilds Parkway NW Prior Lake, MN 55372 p: (803)-322-0870 e: Markfillhouer@gmail.com

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  2. My parents built that house! A friend who still has Wadena ties sent me this post. It’s so nice to see someone else also has sweet memories of that home. When we lived there, there was a deep freezer in the basement full of blueberries, and a garden with carrots and beans in the back yard. That hallway was so long, and I remember braving it one night only to discover that my parents weren’t there and had LEFT ME. The neighbor sleeping on the couch explained they were at the hospital having my new brother. Thanks for putting this out in the world.

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    1. That is so awesome. So it was green when you lived there, right?? I remember my parents painting it blue when I was a kid. There was still a deep freezer in the basement when I lived there, too! So many good memories packed into a little house.

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      1. It was yellow. Someone after us painted it green. The blue is nice too. My mom drew the floor plan for it, my uncle drew the actual blueprints, and my family’s lumber yard in Battle Lake supplied the materials.

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