You'll have to do some imagining so close your eyes. Oh right, you can't read with your eyes closed. Well imagine you're curled up in a comfy chair with your eyes closed.
Imagine a narrow street in a nice older neighborhood in a small city, the kind with just enough room for one car to pass between the cars parked on either side. This is a dead end street, lined with large houses built for the most part in the early 1900s. Children play in many of the yards, and as you get closer to the dead end more of them are playing in the street - bicycling, roller skating - the old kind of roller skates that secure over shoes with a key, and playing kick ball using the man hole covers and storm drain openings for bases.
The street ends at with a stop sign. Behind that sign is a 3 foot drop into a sloping yard full of large sheltering maple trees. The house that belongs to the yard is off to your right. It's big with a deep front porch just calling out to you to come sit and enjoy a glass of lemonade. On closer inspection you decide sitting in the midst of the hockey game being played there might be a bit dangerous so you step inside through the heavy wood front door.
Take in the living room as you step in. Straight ahead is the fireplace set into a small inglenook to the right the room opens up. If you listen carefully you'll hear the echoes of voices from the dinner parties held here over the years. To the left is a study behind glass doors and windows topping bookshelves which separate it from the oak lined stairway. Tucked under the stairway landing is telephone table, and under the stairs themselves a deep coat closet perfect for hiding. Behind the formal stairs is a second more utilitarian stairway lined with children's artwork.
Behind that second stairway is the kitchen bright with daisy covered fabric. Looping from there through the laundry room you come to the formal dining room complete with built-in cabinets at one end. You can almost smell the Thanksgiving turkey, and over in the corner you notice the perfect spot for a children's table.
Back in the living room you make your way up the stairs, stopping on the landing to gaze out the wall of windows to the trees beyond. It looks like the perfect spot to curl up with a book. At the top of the stairs is a large open hall with room for a writing desk and an occasional hamper basketball game. Off the hall are, in counter clockwise order a play room, which the children in the house call the secret room because when the family first moved in it was filled with boxes and they weren't allowed in, the master bedroom, the linen closet, the attic stairs, a children's bedroom, the bathroom and the other children's bedroom.
Up the attic stairs you find a wonderful mix of storage and playroom - dolls, doll beds and doll house nestle in the light from a dormer window. In the middle of the space sits a desk perfect for building with the erector set that sits in a box on top. Behind the chimney you can see the framing for another bedroom, started but never finished.
Returning to the yard you imagine the sled rides that start on the pile deposited around the stop sign by the plows and continue the length of the sloping yard. The gully that surrounds the house on two sides sparks thoughts of adventures to be had in that oasis of wild.
This house that you've been imagining is the haunted house my family lived in for ten years. We moved in when I was almost 4. My parents, with help from various professionals and my grandfather, stripped layer upon layer of wall paper, replaced plumbing and electrical lines, rehabbed the bathroom, painted, cleaned and filled the house with laughter and love. It was the first house my little brother lived in. I learned to ride a bike on the front porch (yes it was that big). It was a great house to grow up in there at the end of that dead end street.