This is a Google image taken of the front of the house from the old Vestal Road as well as 3 snapshots taken last summer by Marge’s cousins.
Above are some recent photos of the house we bought inVestal, NY. As I said in the last post,we could not make the trip to Europe that we had hoped for. So we decided to do the sensible thing and buy a house instead of renting. I Think we had saved up to about $1500 then, so it was definitely feasible. Not as exciting as travelling around Europe, but since that did not work out, buying a home was sensible indeed.
Marge and I talked about what we wanted for a house, approximate location, what we thought we could afford and concerns like that. Somehow or other we had settled on using a middle-aged real estate lady, Jeanette Boyd, to help in the search. I have no idea of how we chose her as we certainly did know her prior to our decision. She drove a Buick 4 door sedan and showed us around to many places she believed were suited, based on what we had described to her. There were some nice older homes in the general area of where we lived, reasonably priced, but we decided we wanted a newer area. So, she showed up quite a few very nice homes in newer developments, but they were asking more than what we thought we could safely afford. I believe she did get tired of driving us around, and even showed us a small farm which was old but nicely kept up about 20 miles from town. I think I was more tempted to get that as it was priced considerably below our target price and I thought we could afford to spend the rest on a second mortgage to really make it our own. It did not appeal to Marge so that was out.
Marge and I were getting a bit discouraged with all this so we agreed with the agent to take a breather, give it some more thought ourselves and get back to her later. In the meantime we kept scanning the Houses for Sale in the local paper and I noticed a house for sale in Vestal that was asking $18,750. That was about our target price, the location was close to plant where I worked and there were newer developments going up to the south of the Vestal Road and there was a small mission Presbyterian Church in that development. So we decided we wanted to look at it and called Mrs Boyd to see if she would show it to us.
She did this and we really liked the place. It is the only house we owned that is one story and had about 1900 sq. ft. in it and a detached 2 car garage. It was on a small lot, about 50′ by 100″ which was fine with me as I did not and do not enjoy yard work. As it stands now the lot is very overgrown with shrubbery, as you can see. Someone after us added those mismatched garage doors UGH! We later renovated the kitchen, enclosed the porch with windows and replaced the heavy old wooden storm windows with attached aluminum ones. Other than that it looks now much the same as it did in 1963. I think, but am not sure that the house was built around 1940. I also think the dormer on the 2nd floor was added later. the flooring was different, and there was a second floor bathroom that was not quite like the style of the first floor bath. In addition to the bath the second floor had 3 bedrooms, one for us, one for Ingrid and a spare bedroom for our second child who came later. What’s not to like ? I think that deep down Marge liked it better than any of our other homes.
At that time you could buy a house for 5% down and 5% interest. I was making around $8500 a year at that time. We offered $18500 for the house and the offer was accepted. I then learned a rule of thumb concerning real estate buying or selling. That is “something is going to go wrong you just do not know what it is ahead of time.” In this case, the zoning board would not approve the sale as the house was not connected to the sewer system. The cost to install the sewer lateral was about $400, the owner did not want to pay this, nor did we. This was resolved by us paying 1/3, the owner paying 1/3, and Mrs. Boyd paying 1/3 out of her commission. The paperwork was modified to reflect this and we closed not long after. The house payments were $175 a moth and by this time, the Syracuse University costs had been resolved,so though the payments were more than our rental we could afford it. And of course there was an income tax break. We were now proud homeowners.
I think we closed on the house effective the end of May that year. The former owners moved out and while the house was empty, I took my 2 weeks of vacation time to paint the interior. I’m not sure of the exterior, maybe yes, maybe no. Marge and I went to paint stores, took a lot of sample paint chips home and decided what colors we wanted in each room. I think we decided on Sears paints as they had good quality paints then at reasonable prices. We had given our 1 month notice to our landlord who lived in the duplex unit next to us and moved in a month after our closing.
After the furniture and appliances were in we decided to get rid of some of our old tired furniture and buy some new items, particularly for the living room. So, again, a lot of shopping around for Marge and I. We looked for furniture in the style of the 60s, sharing our individual thoughts on what we liked and disliked and jointly deciding on the purchases. Take a look at an old “Dick Van Dyke” episode or other similar period TV show and you will get the idea of the then current look.
But then, as the excitement of the new house was wearing off, our old inter-personal issues started to come back. I have mentioned our failed attempt at marriage counselling shortly after our wedding. When we were preparing for my deployment to France with th Air Guard, Marge’s mother said something to her like “Marge, you should be nicer to Bob…he may not come back.” Not that I was, perfect, nor am I now. Far from it.
If we could only have shared our emotional needs and wants, respected each others opinions, agreed on compromises that each of could honor, our life together would have been a lot smoother. It worked for all the things we shared, house, furniture, etc. but we did not apply these principles to our personal lives. Looking back, I believe we were not really aware of all the life assumptions we had unconsciously brought with us to our marriage and that these assumptions were different. Not that countless other families did not have similar issues, and many much more serious. On balance I believe we did pretty good as a family, but there were episodes of angry flare-ups, the silent treatment, and I am sure anybody reading this can add some behaviors of their own. all in all, our life was better than OK, but every moment was not. We still had a lot to learn.