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Childhood home now destroyed by improvements

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By John Foster

I lived in a $2.3 million house.

Well, that’s kind of true. It’s worth $2.3 million now. When we lived there it was less of the “2,” and more of the “.3.” At best.

It feels ridiculous and embarrassing to admit. Everyone’s gonna get the wrong idea, but it’s true. My childhood home is on the market for $2.3 million.

Let me say it is a big house, big enough that about 20 people lived with us every summer. They were workers – but not that kind of workers. They had papers, alright, but those papers said “summer missionary,” which like “intern,” is a modern term for indentured servant.

And it’s in a town — Jackson Hole, Wyo. — with property values that make Oldham County look like beach-side condos on Three Mile Island.

But when my brother sent me the link to the listing, I half couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even recognize it. I can just barely make out the house I knew for 15 years. I have a tough time telling where most of the rooms are in pictures of the interior. I can just barely make out the ghost of my childhood home from rear view.

My first reaction was shock, followed by laughter, before a worse, tough-to-place feeling set in.

It’s like we lived in a house that could have been amazing, we just weren’t classy enough. I don’t like the idea of some millionaires living in our cozy humble house. And I don’t like whoever bought it thinking it was a dump with potential that needed a million-dollar renovation.

It makes me sad, OK.

I admit, I’m too young to be nostalgic, but I miss that big, silly, ugly house, with its yard and creek where we used to look for salamanders and swim in the summer, not caring the water had passed through 15 miles of cow dung to get to us. I miss its wood paneling and huge porch up top where I dragged a foster child across, giving him a splinter the size of a Louisville Slugger making a tent underneath his skin. (He was my age, alright, not like a toddler. What kind of person do you think I am?)

I miss the smell of old books in Dad’s study mixed with the smell of cheap leather, dusty carpet and nylon sleeping bags shoved in the closet.

I have memories of sledding off the greenhouse roof even though Mom strictly forbid it, and the roar when snow would break loose and avalanche off the metal roof. I miss the un-air-conditioned cool of it in the summer. I even kind of miss coming home to that huge, freezing house with ice on the inside of my bedroom window and wearing full winter clothing until we could get a good fire going.

I miss getting down into the reddish brown shag and peaking under my bedroom door to see what everyone was still laughing about after I had to go to bed, then jumping back under the covers when I could see Mom’s footsteps coming my way. That bedroom, along with my brother’s and our kitchen is now the kitchen/dining room.

No more wood paneling – it’s all granite and hardwood. What, you’re too good for wood paneling?

I mean really, who likes the idea of someone tearing up his or her childhood home? So what if they made it $2 million better.

No, especially if they made it $2 million better.

E-mail us about this story at: jfoster@oldhamera.com.