There hasn’t been a for sale sign in front of that house for nearly 31 years. In about two weeks, the posted sign likely will be removed.
Our parents’ house is up for sale, more than 30 years after Dad retired from the Army and he and Mom finally had a home to call their own. When the old man was about to turn in his papers, I had no idea he would consider staying in southeast Georgia. I figured we were headed back to Boston, where our parents grew up.
He would have none of it. Though they called going to Boston on vacation “going home,” home was in fact surrounded by sand gnats and pine trees.
He had grass — a little bit, at least, and a fair amount of pine trees — among the detritus of a former Coke bottling plant dumping ground. If he wanted to paint a bedroom, he didn’t have to ask permission from the Directorate of Housing, though after 13 years on the same base, there weren’t many people on Fort Stewart he didn’t know. (He actually had to get the inspectors to sign off on allowing him to paint my sisters’ room in our quarters — purple).
For a child of the slums and tenements, owning his own home after nearly 50 years of such housing and enlisted quarters must have been a dream. As a kid in Boston, green grass was asphalt painted green, as if they were saying, “You want grass? Here’s your grass.”
The house was home to most of us seven kids — the two oldest had already graduated college and were traveling the world by the time Dad retired, leading to the odd scene of two lieutenants calling a sergeant first class “sir” — and three of us were still in school. Strangely, I was the only one who had to change schools.
Our neighbors, true Southerners, had to get used pretty fast to a large group of loud, obnoxious Yankees moving in next to them.
It didn’t take long for them to get used to us, or us to them. In fact, their son is now our lawyer and we’ll be doing the closing at his office. I spend Thanksgivings and Christmas Eves with them.
Our parents didn’t live to see the note on their house paid off. All those years of government housing and they never got the great joy of tossing the mortgage into the fireplace. Neither did they have to lose sleep in that house wondering if Walgreen’s was going to move into the neighborhood, an issue that drew the attention of Savannah TV stations.
I don’t remember much of their first set of quarters we had on Fort Stewart. I was only a year and a half old when we moved out of those and down the road a few blocks. That second place doesn’t even exist anymore. It was knocked down to make way for vastly better housing for soldiers and their families.
When mom and dad cashed in life’s chips, we decided to sell the house, hoping it would be home to a soldier and his family, as it was for us. We figured our folks, a career noncommissioned officer and his wife, would want it that way.
The prospective buyers are a soldier, his expecting wife and their two children.
Maybe Mom and Dad got their dream after all.