Saturday, September 22, 2012

Roomers

The back bedroom in my house growing up had a private entrance, enclosed stairway to our back porch and a door that led into the kitchen. First, Mom and Dad occupied it, as they remodeled it into a master bedroom, using the plumbing from the kitchen, they changed that into a full bathroom. The pantry made a great storage area for the new bathroom. For privacy, the bathroom was one end of an upside down U, while the other side, a small hallway with a new double closet. The window at the back of the house was at the top of the U. They put in wall to wall golden carpet, except for brown tile in the bathroom, which though a full bath, was narrow. Perfect for one person.
The older kids quickly grew and flew from the nest. Uncle Dave was killed just below our house, early one morning, walking to his work- at eighty years old- shortly after we moved up the street. We had the foster girls living with us.
For extra money and we had the room, Mom and Dad rented the back room. First to the new elementary gym teacher. I used the word "roomer" because he only rented the room. Mom didn't feed him. People at school would ask me about the gym teacher living with me. I replied, "He's a roomer."
Then  I'd think quickly if they thought I meant, "rumor." So I'd clarify myself by saying, "He's renting the room." I still got teased because only a door separated our rooms, but it was locked from my side. My mom cleaned the room once a week.
The closest we got to socializing was when his girlfriend came to visit. She slept in a bedroom we had downstairs. First it was Uncle Dave's room, then quickly became my toy room. After a few years, Dad removed the partition and it was one room with a shower and enclosed toilet and sink.  A double bed rested in there. It served as a guest room. Uncle Bill lived there for a while when he got out of the Army. Dan's friend, Ed Brucker used it too until he found a place to live.
After the gym teacher left, a young woman, Kay, showed up on our doorstep and wanted to live more on her own. She rented the room for about a year. Quiet, she became somewhat like a sister. She ate with us and helped with the dishes after supper. Mom still cleaned the room, but didn't have to work very hard. She drove a Mustang and sometimes took me the mall. One time, as we heading west on Business US 62, she turned left on State Route 18, but that wasn't allowed at that time. Perplexed at the cars blowing their horns at her, she continued with the turn. I wore her dress for my sister's wedding, with the colors of white and yellow. Remember, Diane planned her wedding in a month. Kay just had the perfect dress to go with the theme and color.
Kay moved on to a bigger place. One day, Mom received a call that the new football coach was sleeping on the gym floor in a sleeping bag. "Do you still have a room to rent?"
About the same time, a college student and her mother knocked on the door as they were sent over by Reverend Hatch, to see if she could rent a room during her student teacher rotation.
Teachers surrounded my room. Pat, the student teacher, lived in the small bedroom off the my middle room bedroom. Her jolliness infected our household. She became another sister. We walked to the high school together. She did her lesson plans and graded papers while I did my homework. I was in seventh grade.
Pat also went to church with my mom's cousin Twila Kepner in New Lebanon, PA. That is why she requested Mercer County for her assignment, hoping she would get the Lakeview district near her home. We were blessed they gave her West Middlesex. I met my cousins during a WM/Lakeview game. Twila had much older children, then she had the twins, Donna and Dale, a year older than I. A granddaughter, about two years younger than I, was named Molly. She lived in Sandy Lake area as well, so I met her at the game, a blonde hair, blue eyed girl. Those Thompson genes.
Twila belonged to Grandma Hazel's sister, Jim. Twila was the oldest. Olive was few months younger than Mom, because Hazel and Jim's mother was named Mary Olive. Mom got Mary as her name. There was Howard and Sylvia. I'm not sure of their order at this time. I know Paul was the youngest.
Jim married a farmer. Of her children, Twila, Howard and Paul followed the farming life. I forget what Olive's husband did, but Sylvia's husband was a business man in Vienna, Ohio. They all stayed local, in eastern Ohio. Except Twila moving back to Stoneboro, Sandy Lake, Coolspring Township area in Pennsylvania. I don't know for sure, but she probably met her husband when she visited Grandpa Thompson. I know Mom talked of  going to Christian Endeavor out of the Coolspring Church and eating at the Rainbow restaurant outside of Hadley with the young people.
Sorry for all the family history there. I chased that rabbit. I know my family likes to hear it, well, Katie, Michelle, and Diane.
Pat remained with us through the fall. The next year she married, they both were in the Army and she corresponded for quite a while. As most young people affected by my parents, visited when she could.
The foot ball coach, as you can imagine was a Steelers fan. He got his girlfriend a kitten. She lived at home and was unable to keep him. He named the cat, Franco Harris, and living up to the football persona, I swear that cat grew as big as a refrigerator. His head took up the window when he looked out to our side yard. Mom decided if she ever rented again, there would be a no pets policy, as cleaning with Franco was harder.
The coach woke up to KDKA, so did I, as Dad also opened the door right by the head of my bed to tell me to get up for school. "You're So Vain" often played that year. I could also hear the couple's quiet conversation, but seldom the words, but she never stayed the night.
When the coach moved on, my parents decided to not rent any more. I moved into the back room with the private full bath. Because the furnace didn't reach the back of the house very well, we had a gas stove in the room, that lit up when it heated. I felt I had a fire place in my room. I love this room, the windows that opened like doors, the huge closet, the wandering space and the back stairs. Never had boyfriends come up those stairs.
David and I lived there for a year and a half after his discharge from the Navy before we bought our house. I guess we were the last roomers. But we boarded, too. It is home.
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