Have you ever thought about going to your first home and seeing what it’s like now?
I recently did and I blame this one on Lisa Gordon. She is a brilliant publicist and marketer and when she suggested that I go back to my old home at 712 West Chester Street in Long Beach, I was amenable.
“Just go there and film a Reels video for Instagram,” she suggested. “We can air them after the book launches in August.”
One Random Wednesday
On one random Wednesday in June, I have a break in between two meetings and was in Long Beach for work. I decided to get in my car and travel down west to my old ‘hood.
I passed the Laurel Luncheonette, one of the landmarks and staples in the town. I passed the Jewish War Veterans building and turned on Grand Blvd. Then, made a quick left onto Chester Street.
Growing up, I lived on a dead-end street. My parents loved that because they felt that we were safe there.
712 West Chester Street
I arrived at the house moments later. As I was putting my iPhone in a case, I noticed an older man walking in and out of the house. I wondered if he lived there. I took out my camera and started to film. I could see him noticing me from the corner of my eye. I stopped
“Hi, I’m Hilary,” I said to the man. “I grew up in the house and wrote a book about it. I wanted to film the house.” The house didn’t look that much different from when I grew up.
“Oh sure, I would show you inside,” he said. He was friendly.
“Oh no, that’s okay,” I said. I just want to film the backyard.
I walked around following him. It felt strange. I asked him about the outdoor shower and told him I insisted that my husband put one into our home. He laughed.
The backyard looked the same. I flashed back to my engagement party. It seemed to be such a big party and yet the backyard was tiny.
I decided to drive to the end of the block and look at the pier. Some of the kids would jump off and into the water. I was too afraid but I did once or twice and didn’t drown. I didn’t know how to swim but I did know how to tread water.
After filming some more, I drove to Lindell School. My grandparents, my mother’s parents, lived across the street. They built a little house at 624 West Hudson.
When I saw the house, I was floored. I could not believe how magnificent the house was now. It looked like it could have been home at Cape May. It overlooked the water. I filmed.
As I was filming, a younger man was pulling up with his truck. Turned out, that he was the new owner of the house that my grandparents built. My uncle had the house and went into foreclosure. The bank sold it to this new guy.
We had a brief conversation and I told him about my new book. And I continued on my way.
A little blast of the past
It was strange to go back in time and look at these homes from an adult self. I was no longer a little girl who was always searching for a new place to live.
P.S. The video appears on my Instagram page at http://www.Instagram.com/hilarytopper.