21 Huron Circle

I learned this week that my childhood home burned down in April 2022. It was a sad moment to take in and I am still feeling moody. Even though my parents moved away in 1989 while I was in college – over 35 years ago – 21 Huron Circle was an anchor of memories and formative moments. The assumption that it would always be there was strong. But, of course nothing ever lasts.

Mom & Dad moved us to Valley of Lakes, a vacation resort on the verge of bankruptcy, in November 1975. It was an interesting place to grow up. Idyllic, secluded, with lots of empty space to explore nature and enjoy small adventures. Most of the houses scattered among the lakes and hills were vacation homes, with a handful of other full-time residents like us.

In 1976, construction started on Lot H21. It was a barn-shaped house with a double-sided fireplace separating the living and dining rooms. Outside, there was a wrap-around deck with a hole cut for a tree to pop through, and a U shaped driveway leading to a two car garage almost as large as the house.

And now it is cinders. I discovered the loss when I was cruising around Google Maps satellite view* and what was our old house last time I looked was now just a darkened splotch.

Though H21 is gone, I still have the memories of every room: from the basement where Dad and I built the living room bookshelves to the carpeted bathroom upstairs (it was the 70s after all).

The kitchen table was a favorite gathering place. We pulled cookbooks off the shelf and figured out meals; we munched snacks and told Mom about our classes. In the evening, Dad & Mom had “quiet time” with a cocktail while dinner cooked. The coiled cord of the kitchen phone stretched past the laundry area into the bathroom making a perfect phone booth. That downstairs bathroom was also where I fell asleep while showering during a series of 12 hour factory shifts one summer.

Jenny and I had bedrooms under the gambrel roof, sharing a very tall wall with ceilings that angled down towards the floor. (The 2nd floor of 555 reminds me of this space. ) My floor had a dent in in where I tried to pirouette in my new Christmas ice skates. My room was papered in an olive green striped floral. Jenny’s was painted bubblegum pink. Both of us redecorated to white walls after a while.

Substitute dark olive green for the blue and this was my bedroom wallpaper.

Mom & Dad’s room was huge, with a chimney running through the center and a balcony overlooking the driveway. Mom machine quilted a cover for their king-sized bed and then gave up machine quilting forever. Once every couple of years, Dad would go clothes shopping and come home with new outfits which he spread across that quilt for us to admire.

We made merry with many birthday cakes, good meals, and games of Trivial Pursuit around the dining room table, which is now part of the setup at Rainbow Tomatoes Garden. In the living room, we danced lindy hop and chacha, and watched episodes of the A-Team and David Letterman’s morning show from the sofa and wingback chairs.

It was a really lovely place to live and I hope that the people who came after us enjoyed it as much as we did.

* The nostalgic Google Maps exploration happened as a result of this video slide presentation from 1976:

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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.