A House to Live In
A place to hang my hat and call home.
Newly married at the age of 30 a Gypsy for the last dozen years an athlete in the twilight of his obsession, past his prime, ready to come in from the cold.
My bride Frannie God Bless Her thought it was time to buy a house. I was ambivalent.
Affordability was paramount having recently lived in high tony towns like Wellesley especially and up and comer Hopkinton.
Location was also important, at the time I was commuting from Hopkinton to Lowell and so when Frannie located a place in Clinton about half way between I was sent to have a look at it.
I have a vague memory of going to Clinton once on a drive back from Providence when I was attending Johnson & Wales College. We dropped a fellow student there. It was a nondescript New England Mill-town, didn’t even remember the dam holding back the Nashua River, Boston’s water supply.
Having grown up in Lowell it was certainly familiar.
So, I went to Clinton on a snowy February day in 1987 to see the little two bedroom box that would become our home.
The place was on the other side of the tracks a mile away from the big Victorian houses near the Central Park. It is on Harbor Street on a hill above Coachlace Pond named for the frilly lace used along the tops of the windows on train cars at one time produced by a mill on the pond.
The realtor showed me around. Didn’t take long, small kitchen joined by two small rooms one with a piano in it and a wood stove. A basement partly finished concrete floor washer dryer furnace the usual.
Up a steep set of stairs to two bedroom and a bathroom the thing that struck me was the view of the pond below and the expanse of wetlands and forest in the distance and the train tracks snaking through.
The family selling the house had all of their things there including family pictures hanging on the walls. They were splitting up so I was melancholic.
The back yard was small but being on the hill with the vast expanse of distance a view that was comforting made an impression on me.
In 1987 another housing bubble had burst and so while our house was affordable the price was much higher than it might have been.
The deed for the property is dated from 1858. A bridge constructed across the spillway from the damn of the pond was closed, under repair and due to open in May.
My family came down from Lowell for the first time to see our little house on Memorial Day weekend and as we were having a little cook out in the backyard a military jet formation flew over in dedicating the opening of the new bridge.
My dad said “Wow, they know how to celebrate the day here in Clinton town.”
Without the bridge the “Harbor” section of town was isolated and that is how it was in the beginning, in the beginning long time ago.
I did not see the house as small certainty could use some work but plenty house for Frannie, me and baby makes three our starter haha home haha.
A place where there was no car garage and you shovel snow and sweep with a broom.
I never appreciated big homes three car garages with trucks and SUV’s no aspiration to be a person of such things and one time our beautiful daughter said to me when she was little and seeing such houses that it “embarrassed her, made her feel stupid.
It struck me the influence of the culture more and bigger and better.
“Me too, I am embarrassed for them.”
My contrary nature there, no one takes me seriously.
In the 331/3 years the neighborhood changed and we changed too, grew old together but it is still the neighborhood where the ice cream truck comes through playing Scott Joplin the “Entertainer” and a new generation of kids grab mom & dads hand and run to meet it.
Goin Back Neil Young