First Apartment is the Memorable Home Sweet Home

 

"Write about a favorite or memorable place you have lived for any time at all, whether a country, state, city, childhood home, fraternity/sorority, hostel, hotel or even bedroom."  - Blogapalooza Topic 4-30-14

Milwaukee Fire Station Oklahoma, Avenue

Milwaukee Fire Station
Oklahoma, Avenue

What a great blog topic!  The place that immediately came to mind was my first apartment after I graduated from college. It was a small one bedroom apartment on the southwest side of Milwaukee. It was a two story building with two wings, next door to a fire station. My little piece of home was tucked away in a corner of the building where the "L" turned south. There was a large sliding glass door in the living room and another window in the bedroom. The "front door" went out into the hallway.

I remember carpet in the living room, but there was vinyl tile in the bedroom and kitchen area. The kitchen was a narrow alley with a pantry type closet at the end of it. We always had electric appliances when I was growing up (my dad worked for General Electric), so the gas stove was a bit of a problem for me. You had to light the oven back in the day, and it took me several times to figure that all out and to actually get it to work.

There wasn't much in the way of furniture, a lawn chair, a brick and board bookshelf, an old kitchen table from my parents, and a couple of avocado green plastic chairs I used for the table. My parents let me take my bedroom furniture from home, so I had a bed, a dresser, and a desk with a chair. After a couple of months, my boyfriend, now my husband, found an old couch that some friends of his were getting rid of. He and my sister loaded up the old sofa in my dad's station wagon and hauled it to Milwaukee for me.  I think that was the time the car broke down along the Tri-State, but that is another story.

The sofa was pretty ripped and torn, but a new bedspread over the top made it look a little better. It was fairly clean, just beat up. It had the unusual, to me, feature of flipping the seat up in the air to allow the back to fold down into about a 3/4 size bed - with a seam down the middle. It was terribly uncomfortable, but one time when my parents came to visit, they actually spent the night trying to sleep on that thing. That was surely above and beyond what anyone should have to do.

But the place wasn't as important as the time I spent there.  I had moved from the Chicago area, away from my family, to be more on my own than I had been in college. So it was a major taste of independence and I loved it. I loved my job, I met new people, and had a lot of new experiences.

There was underground parking available at this complex, and in the winter time, I paid $5 more a month to park indoors. One morning when I went to work, I found my car doors unlocked and my glove box open and things strewn about the floor. When I got to work, I called the apartment manager and she reported that I was one of the lucky ones. Burglars had gone though the garage, stealing what they could find. My car must have been parked close enough to the wall that they couldn't open the hood and steal my battery.

There was a girl down the hall who always had her door open and she had a big, fluffy white dog. I don't know what she was waiting for, but in the daytime, her door was open and she was looking up whenever you went by.

My sister came to visit once and I took the day off work so we could hang around together.  Wigs were very popular then and we went to a wig store and bought cheap wigs. Sad to say, we actually wore the dumb things. Just one of those stupid fads, but I still have the thing in my Halloween costume stuff. My kids used to play with it.

I used to spend about $5 per week feeding myself, and my gas guzzler Chevy Caprice, my first car, could be filled up for 25 cents a gallon.  Probably cost about $5 per tank. Of course, I only made $111 per week. Most weekends I went back to Illinois to see my boyfriend. If I didn't, I would cook a very small beef roast and eat it all week. There were no microwave ovens then, so I put the enamel pan back in to the oven and reheated 3-4 times before it was gone. It was better the second time than it was the first time, but by the fourth time, it was pretty dry. I bought my first "real" furniture item, a lamp from JC Penney,  for about $20. It was a major splurge, but it made me feel like I ruled the world.

My year in Milwaukee ended when my lease was up and I moved back to Illinois to get married. My hubby still had another year of college, so staying in Milwaukee was not an option. There have been other memorable homes both before and since then, but that's the one that most coincided with my "coming of age". I learned to take care of myself, to be cautious in the city, to make friends carefully, and yet to take some chances every now and then because you don't grow and bloom without some risk.

Think about your favorite place and remember the stories you can tell about who you were when you lived there, how it changed you, and how you've changed since then. Home Sweet Home!

 

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