I’m lucky enough to have a home that appears in the background of several historic photos of Goshen, simply because of the 1903 high school building that casts its shadow over us. At one time a brick house stood in its place with an enormous corner lot all to itself. Imagine that.
When we were searching for houses on our very limited budget, the other options all paled in comparison. They were in questionable neighborhoods, were ridiculously tiny, and one house had counted the landing area at the top of the stairs as a bedroom (side note: just because you put a bed there does not make it a bedroom). And then of course, some of them seemed more on the practical side for starting a family, with fenced yards and such, but they were also newer houses that completely bored me.
The moment I walked through the doors here I felt a warmth and comfort; I’m sure it was in large part because I could see how the Weaver’s had made their home in this place for so many years. The dining table with the scorch mark, the Fiestaware in the corner cupboards. The photos on the walls, the table for two in the cozy kitchen. I remember Tony asking me which house I liked the best, and I hesitated thinking he would judge me for giving in to sentiment. It was such a relief when I gave him my answer and he immediately agreed on all points.
When I was a kid I lived in an older house for a period of about four years. It was the only old house I’d lived in and my mind took off with imagining the other families that might have lived there. I remember digging in the dirt and finding a piece of heavy iron that my dad said looked like an old piece of farm equipment. I determined that I would be an archeologist when I grew up.
Although that never happened, of course it follows that I’ve wanted to know everything about this house. I started out by pouring over the Goshen census line by line, and then looked in the city directories at the library. When I stumbled across the first postcard of the high school on Ebay and saw that our house was there in the background, I think I nearly died.
Our house had gingerbread.
When you’re doing historical research, details usually come together in a messy way. You line up the facts that you have and find yourself piecing together a story to fill in the gaps. How many times I have wished that I could walk around the corner in one of these postcards and get just a glimpse of what was beyond. I have this idea that my time travel stipulation would be that I could only be there for a matter of moments, and how I would happily sign an agreement of that nature.
What did the porch look like? What did the upstairs look like as an apartment? What was the placement of the interior walls before the Great Renovation? What was the original kitchen like? What about the back porch or the garage before it was the garage?
As it is, I’ll have to continue on my way of desperately seeking out every scrap of information I can get my hands on to make an outline of the lives lived here, and coloring in the empty spaces with my imagination.