The average American moves 12 times during his life. Interestingly, the percentage of us who move has fallen every year since 2000. Why? Theories include an aging population. After 45, only two or three more moves are typical. With income remaining relatively flat for the past few decades moving is a significant expense not as many can undertake. And, with more two-income households, moving to benefit one half of a couple isn't economically feasible, either. But, whatever the reason, we are more likely to stay put, Covid or not.
That was not how I was raised. While growing up, I moved over twenty times before leaving for college. Between graduation from Syracuse University and getting married, I added another four addresses. Within the first several years of my marriage, Betty and I relocated six times.
To give weight to one of the statistics noted above, as we got older and had two daughters that deserved more stability, we were in two homes for 20 years. Our last relocation was five years ago to be very close to the rest of the family. We are likely to be here for another eight or nine before a retirement community beckons.
I decided it might be fun to recall some of the places I have called home and what I remember most about those stops on the way to my satisfying retirement. Hopefully, it will trigger some memories for you, too.
I was born in the section of Philadelphia known as Upper Darby but moved to the suburbs within a few months. When I was 5 or 6, the family moved across the Delaware River into New Jersey and the town of Haddonfield. Our first home in that town said a lot about the times. We were less than two blocks from railroad tracks that carried high-speed commuter trains from southern New Jersey into Philadelphia.
I remember quite clearly that there were no fences or safety features to keep anyone from wandering around the tracks. In fact, to get to a nearby baseball diamond, I would simply cross the two sets of tracks to get to the park. My parents knew that was our route and simply cautioned us to look both ways. Every one of our friends did precisely the same thing.
The neighborhood boys would place pennies on the tracks and wait for trains to flatten them. Occasionally someone would be hit and killed by a train, but never any of the kids from the neighborhood. Oddly, it was always an adult who should know better.
Such accidents never prompted any safety measures. I'm sure it wasn't because parents in the '50s were less caring...there was just an overall belief that kids were smart enough to stay away from real danger, and one learned directly from life experiences. Today, can you imagine letting your children or grandkids play near the railroad tracks? I certainly can't!
|Our own baseball diamond|
The house was across the street from the local YMCA, housed in an enormous brick mansion where weekly Friday night teen dances were held. This was also the town where I first caught the radio bug. I visited the local station one day with my mom, and the next 40 years of my life were determined.
Even though we lived in Cambridge for only one year, I remember the friendliest group of kids I encountered anywhere. We had parties at my home at least once a month and baseball games in the backyard almost daily. I had my first girlfriend experience with a cute girl named Joanne. I was heartbroken when we packed up after 12 months and moved to Massachusetts.
For the next seven years, we lived near Boston in the suburban town of Lynnfield. Being unable to completely stop what we were so good at (packing and unpacking), we did live in three different homes in Lynnfield during those seven years! But, to their credit, my parents did finally settle in the last house, living there for almost 20 years until moving to Arizona to be near Betty and me.
Lynnfield was a typical suburban town in the 1960s. A handful of stores clustered around the town square, complete with a colonial meeting hall and white-spired Congregational church. Kids rode bikes everywhere without fear. Of course, the whole town turned out for the 4th of July parade, Christmas tree lightings, and Easter egg hunts. I remember exactly where I was when JFK was shot (gym class) and walking the mile to our house in shock.
About 30 minutes from Lynnfield was the first radio station I became involved with. I managed to land a job as their janitor, mopping floors, and throwing out the trash twice a week. Since I was too young to drive, mom was conned into being my chauffeur. I have no idea what she did while I performed my duties and hung around the DJ and absorbed everything. But, she never complained for the year before I got my driving license.
Finally, with that ticket to freedom, I was able to take a job as a part-time DJ on weekends at age 16. The thrill I had first felt in Cambridge was finally satisfied at this little station in Beverly, Massachusetts.
There were brief family stops in places as far apart as Jacksonville, Florida, and Wayne, outside Philadelphia (again!). From our backyard, we could see Valley Forge just 2 miles away, where George Washington and the troops wintered in 1777. I remember there were train tracks there too just beyond our back fence. But I was never tempted to play near them. I had lost my kid's innocence and gained an adult's fear. By now, the train traffic was an annoyance, not a thrill.
As an adult, I moved from Syracuse to Nashua New Hampshire, and then to Morgantown, West Virginia, where I met and married my bride of 44 years. Subsequent moves to Cedar Rapids, Iowa (an apartment & 2 houses), Salt Lake City (twice), Tucson, and Phoenix/Scottsdale, and finally Chandler (4 different homes) have all seen my moving boxes.
|Home, sweet home, for a month in Cedar Rapids|
With only one car, I would drive to my new job while Betty stayed above the bait shop, trying to remember why she agreed to move here after just 6 months of marriage.
It was during a brutal winter cold snap in Iowa, with temperatures well below zero 24 hours a day...certainly too cold for her to even leave the apartment to buy food. She remembers that the only thing that kept her sane was looking forward to the TV series, Roots, which was on every night.
For someone who has stayed within a stone's throw of where he or she was born, this constant change of address must seem as foreign as speaking a different language. But, in my case, it was merely the way it was.
I learned to adapt to new places rather quickly, but not really develop many friends because we were never in one place long enough. That is a deficiency that I feel more strongly as I age. I really have no link, or even much of a memory, of the people who were part of my childhood. At times I envy those who have all sorts of Facebook contacts from childhood or high school folks who were part of their life.
How about your history...does it involve lots of address changes, or were you part of a family that put down roots and happily stayed in one spot?