Thursday, March 3, 2011

Louisiana Street

Technology is a grand thing.  This is a street level view of the house in the 800 block of Louisiana Street in Lawrence, Kansas that my grandparents Frank and May Walters called home after their move from the farm.  Unfortunately, for my grandfather, the stay would be a short one.  He became more than grandma could handle and would live out his days in a nursing home until his death in 1967.

By the time they had moved into town my mother, a widow, had remarried and my family had moved to Abilene.  Still, I had plenty of chances to visit my grandmother in this quaint three bedroom house.  I can remember taking bus and train trips to see her, not to mention the numerous family travels to Lawrence.

The house had its quirks which I liked.  It started with the large screened in porch at the front entry.  You entered from there into a living room which directly connected to a dining area.  To the left was a bedroom which connected with a walk between closet to another bedroom which was my grandma's.  The living room featured a fire place and an awful green hide-a-bed couch.  I hated sleeping on that thing but when the entire family was on hand that's where I usually ended up.  From the dining room was a narrow kitchen was connected to a breakfast room.  Next to it was a back bedroom which was my favorite sleeping quarters.

I loved spending time with my grandma.  We'd watch TV together, she loved crazy Joe Pine. She'd even let me listen to rock and roll records on her nice stereo.  I even enjoyed doing yard work pushing an old grass cutter or pulling bag worms from the evergreens.  She'd give me money to walk up 9th street to go bowling at a nearby alley.  Of course, there were still Uncle Bob's Playboys to sneak off with, she always seemed to know, despite her blindness, what I was up to.

Grandma loved sports too, especially K.U. basketball.  She would ask me to describe the players, their attributes.  And remarkably, just across the street from her house lived the icon of all icons of K.U. hoops, one Dr. Forrest C. Allen.  I would venture across the street and sit on the front porch with Phog and listen intently to his stories about basketball.  I know he went to his grave bitter about the fact that he was forced to retire before he could coach Wilt Chamberlain as a varsity player.

I related to my oldest sister that of all the things that I dreamed about in my sleep, I've had more dreams about the house on Louisiana Street than any place I've ever been.  I never dream about the farm or our home in Abilene, but I dream of my wonderful grandmother and our cozy home in Lawrence.  That's where I remember grandma best, in her rocking chair, sitting in her lap, asking me to pluck hairs from her face with tweezers, full of life, and full of love.

This an addition to the original post.  My sister Dianne wanted me to know that 824 Louisiana had recently undergone a major renovation.  This is how it looks now.  The screened in porch is gone and there is a huge addition to the back of the house.  But my sister really wanted me to know that this quaint home in Old West Lawrence that my grandparent's purchased for about $12,000 is now valued at $500,000.  All I can saw is wow!

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