It wasn't a big house. It had two small bedrooms and one even smaller bedroom, a tiny bathroom, a living room, dining room, a kitchen, and a basement with a big furnace that had ductwork that to this little girl looked like the arms of a giant monster. Later, a two car garage was built next to the house, although I can't ever remember there being two cars kept there. It had a front door, a side door, and a back door, which I always thought was odd since there was very little space from one to another. The door pictured above was the side door which led out into a beautiful yard, the upper portion of which was actually owned by my great aunt and uncle. That yard was just perfect for the family picnics we had every Labor Day. On that day, it was filled with croquet games, the passing of baseballs, chairs, tables full of food, and tons of Norris family laughter. The backyard contained a cement porch where evenings were spent making conversation....and ice cream. Across the driveway from the backyard were grape arbors, gardens, and apple trees; one of which contained a handmade swing on a branch that wasn't too stable and always swayed up and down along with the "swinger". It was land that remained from a substantial amount of farmland that had belonged to my great great grandfather who was an very early settler of the township. Through the years, that land had been divided among his children and this portion had belonged to my great grandmother, Elizabeth Routsong Norris. My grandfather, Leland Norris had, after living in various other locations in Dayton, come back to this land and built a home here. As Van Buren Township and eventually the city of Kettering, had grown up, it was very rare to see a home surrounded by as much land as they had. It wasn't overly large, but it was much bigger than the suburban yards we were used to and I thought it was fantastic. My great aunt and great uncle lived just up the hill on the side yard and we would visit them often and delight in seeing the giant goldfish in the small outdoor pond in their backyard. As a child, I never appreciated the gift of growing up in such a wonderful atmosphere and it flew by much too quickly. After my grandparents passed away, I think most of us hoped that someone in the family would be able to buy the house and the land, but the real estate in that area of the city was far too valuable and none of us was able to make the purchase. Seeing the house in the hands of someone else was very difficult, especially when almost immediately, they began to renovate the house, both inside and out. It was even harder when my great aunt died a few years later and her home and the remainder of the land on the side of the house was sold. Shortly thereafter, an extremely large, modern home was built on the land and obscured the view of my grandparents house from the highway. The new house sits directly on our old "croquet field" and the field of apple trees in the backyard had to yield the way for crop of new and expensive homes.
A couple of years ago, my mother gave me an envelope full of my grandparents important papers. Inside I found the mortgage book that my grandfather kept showing all of his house payments. It includes the date stamped for the final payment. It's one of my favorite keepsakes, along with the pictures my husband took of my grandparents home before we left for the last time. No matter how many people move into and out of that house, for me it will always be "Grandma and Grandpa's".