Friday, April 20, 2007

Home Sweet Home - Tales From The Bunkey Room

A few months ago, I was reading the Star Ledger, probably in one of my condo’s 2 bathrooms, and I saw an article about a guy who grew up in Roselle. And I said Wow.. So did I! Our family had a house there for 30 years!

Then, it said he took classes at Kean College.. And I said Wow.. So did I! …before I transferred to Montclair State…

And after that he lived in the Avenel section of Woodbridge.. And I said Wow.. So did I!.. I rented an apartment there for 4 years after we sold our Roselle house in March of 1997...

And the article said he was filming a movie in Highland Park… And I said… Wow… I like movies.. And I’ve been to Highland Park… and I hear they are going to build a movie theater in Highland Park. But, that’s as far as the similarities go.. Trophy Wife has made some pretty nifty home movies that I have posted here. And my buddy Mike made some fantastic home movies in the 1990s.. portions of which are embedded at the end of the column as today’s Clip of the Week.

Anyway, one night late last year shortly after that article appeared… Trophy Wife and I were house hunting and saw a closed off street with a lot of big trucks parked nearby. We moseyed on over to check out the hullaballoo and as it turned out the aforementioned movie was filming right then and there!

Wait a second.. Did Nate just say he was house hunting?

Yep… and today I can finally say that after a decade of apartment and condo living….. Trophy Wife and I have bought a house… And we just moved in… almost exactly 10 years to the day that my mom sold our original Roselle house! So, to celebrate this momentous occasion, today’s column is about… My Old House!!

Most of these last 97 columns were put together in the 2nd bedroom of our condo where I kept the computer. We called it the Monkey Room because the prior owner had put in this absurd Monkey wallpaper. The prior owners of our new house left a bunk bed behind in the computer room… so we have renamed the Monkey Room…. The Bunk-ey Room! .

When I was born 30-something years ago, we lived in an apartment in Washington Heights till I was a year old when we moved to NJ. It was my idea. Our first year in NJ, we lived in an apartment, and then we moved into our Roselle house which I wrote about in January when I told of my first experience with a sub sandwich. plus a bizarre run-in with a love sick guy who was leaving a gay bar in the nearby shopping center!.

For 30 years that house was home.. until my mom sold it ten years ago and bought a condo in Edison. .. Now ladies and gentlemen after a decade of living in an apartment, my old condo and then another condo.. Nate has returned to living in a house! (With special thanks to the amazing Mortgage Jedis John and Mike.) And that means I get a new place to write this blog! Incredibly the house is actually near where that movie was filmed by the Roselle/Kean/Avenel guy! And I apologize… but after an exhaustive search, I cant seem to recall his name!

Lots of people have different memories of where they grew up.. Some happy …. Some not so happy. Even though we had a couple of shivas there… my memories are generally quite happy. I think houses should have landmark status. Shortly after we moved away, the people that bought our house called me to get some mail that had been delivered there… and when I went to pick it up, they nicely invited me in to show me what they had done with the place. I was shocked, stunned and mortified to discover that they had changed it!! To me that house.. the place I grew up…. always looked a certain way, and I couldn’t believe that it hadn’t achieved landmark status of some kind.

My earliest memories of the house are from the early 70s.. My parents bought it from a lady named Mrs. Ebert.. No relation to Roger who I hope is feeling better… The house was a 3 bedroom 1 and a half bathroom split level and my dad had an office in the downstairs area. It was the first one on the street …no neighbors to stage left, just like our new house. We also had a golf course behind our back yard. I used to watch the golfers but as a kid, I don’t recall ever seeing those popular 70s Stars of David chains or afro haircuts among those participating in the hoity toity golf games.

In the early 1990s a tornado ripped through Roselle, going through the golf course at an angle headed towards the shopping center. The sub shop was spared.. But not our house. Because we were the first house on the block, we were the only house that was damaged. Structurally, the house was fine.. just damage to awnings and a fence plus a lot of downed trees. The only way I even knew something was awry was when my friend Harmon called me to tell me the tornado story was on the 11 o’clock news with footage of the shopping center. Within moments of seeing this, my mother called to say she was ok….Luckily, she was out of the house when the tornado hit… and when she came home, this was the sight that greeted her!

And this believe it or not was our back yard!!

The reason for the fence… the kids 2 houses down were a bit older and turned out to be hillbillies or as they say in Yiddish vilde-chayas.. and my parents had to do their best to keep me from away from them and their anti-Semitism. Maybe they were white supremacists? I learned about that with their constant chanting of “Jew“ not to mention they lit a fire in our front yard etc.. Nice parenting there!. Years later when I was 16 or 17 and taking driving lessons, the now “young adult” saw my rather hefty driving teacher and asked her if she was the fat chick I was dating.. You would think they would have grown up by that point. Thankfully, that family sold their house and as their moving van drove off, and we all joyously bid them adieu, the real estate prices promptly increased! They are probably all on welfare or dead by now.. Incidentally, scandal may be back in town. Last year a primary election victory was overturned due to some hokey pokey with the absentee ballots - I wonder if that candidate was living in the town when I was there..

Over the years I redid my room every once in awhile.. In the 80s I had to studify it just a bit for my late teens and early 20s and eventually got a TV and a rickety old barca lounger and made it into a real he man palace. Me and my buddies watched Super Bowls, Buster Douglas knocking out Tyson, the 1984 Nebraska Miami Orange Bowl and of course Game 6 and 7 of the 1986 World Series. (I was cutting class at Montclair State the day the Mets won the game in Houston) My buddies would come over to hang out… One day my mom poked her head in offering us grapes to which one buddy replied.. “Yeah.. And can you peel them?” After that recent 24 unresolved confrontation between Martha Logan, and her ex husband,, I don’t think I would ever ask a woman to do anything involving a knife and fruit! Can you believe Martha Logan stabbed that rat of an ex husband of hers with a fruit knife? Now Jack Bauer gets a call from Audrey Raines.. Where was she.. In the bank on the now defunct ABC show “The Nine”?

We had a lot of fun shindigs at that house…and holiday dinners and Passover seders. One memorable year, my dad who was not born in the USA was reading from his snazzy new Haggadah (Passover book) and didn’t realize that the word “victual” is not pronounced the way it’s spelled. And when our neighbor Mr. Seftel corrected him to the proper pronunciation.. he looked at Mr. Seftel and corrected him….. “Well my book says “vict-shoooals”. The retelling of that story is an annual tradition at our seder.. And, Mr. Seftel’s grandson is now a big shot movie producer, although I don’t think he has filmed any movies near our new house..

My parents always had parties at the Roselle house, including a retirement party for a colleague who Clemens-ily used the party as a time to announce that she was going to un-retire! Therefore it was part of my genetic blueprint that forced me to throw a huge shindig when my mom went down to FL to see my uncle. The house became party central that fateful Saturday Night Feb. 20, 1988.. And a couple that hooked up at that party actually got married... Every single person I knew in 1988 was at that freaking party… including many people I didn’t know!. And somebody bought a movie cam and shot some footage including a shot of me carrying a big chair down the stairs that my buddies Chris and Harmon find incredibly hysterical… and always request to see it when they come over. Now they can always see it because I am going to post it as part of The Clip of the Week

Since I commuted to college, the house was home till 1990 when I moved to Sparta. But even then it was still “home” and also a good place to do laundry. I moved back from ‘94 until ‘97 after I left the radio station where I had been working. . Over those 30 years, it was a place for blizzards, a very young Nate’s asthma attack and graduation parties… and I wasn’t too thrilled about the idea when the house was put on the market in late 1996.. But in reality,. I was moving to an apartment , and my mom didn’t see any reason to live in a big house all by herself.. On Labor Day Sunday. September 1,1996, (8 years before my wedding on Labor Day Sunday 2004) my mom decided to have a yard sale and allowed a friend to have her own table in the driveway to sell stuff from her house that she was also planning to sell. My grape peeling buddy came by to visit and quietly approached my mom and asked her if she realized what her friend was selling. My mom looked at her table while her friend strolled off, and was stunned to realize that there was an unused but open boxed… combination enema - douching apparatus! My mom tried to cover it up with some other crap, but every time she did so, the friend returned to her table and promptly uncovered it, proudly displaying it like they were the Crown Jewels! After the sale was over, the friend said she was happy she made a few bucks to which my mom loudly retorted… “Yeah.. But nobody bought your douche-bag”.

Ten years ago as the moving truck backed out of the driveway, and took our neighbor’s telephone wiring with it.. It was Goodbye to “House Life”.

Now its back to mowing the lawn or hiring someone to do so, shoveling the snow, dealing with flooded basements which will be discussed in an upcoming column. No more condo maintenance fees.. No more condo meetings where women complain that their old neighbor walked around his house with the shades open and they saw his shmeckle... unless they were looking at the life size painting that former Governor McGreevey allegedly has in his bedroom. And all the other fun stuff.. I get a driveway.. a basement and 3 count ‘em 3 bathrooms to read The Star Ledger comics.. The only page in the Today section that doesn’t include TV Critic Alan Sepinwall to wall Sopranos coverage. . And hopefully… lotsa happy memories too. I am definitely gonna miss that condo.. This was the first home Trophy Wife and I bought together.. And we came home the night of our wedding.. which was in Linden at my old synagogue… and I carried her over the threshold! We then went to a hotel that night, and it was fun watching her check in using her brand new last name. I told the clerk it was the first time she was using that name.. And then with a straight face told him it was our first night in the Witness Protection Program.

With the big move, you may have noticed that the posting schedule has been erratic over the last month. This column’s posting date has been changed a few times when our closing got delayed, and with the news events concerning Imus . . And believe me, after being away for close to a month… I have had a lot to say! So stay tuned for comments about topics such as the Melanie McGuire murder trial, The Highland Park mayor accusing fellow blogger Lauren Kornfeld of stealing her (not nappy) hairstyle, and all of the other craziness.

So now if you will excuse me, I am in the mood for some victuals, so I am going to go peel some grapes. And I gotta prepare for my garage sale.. If I could only find where I left that douche bag!

Time for the clip of the week… Today its Kean-a-scope Theater…

In addition to the famous chair carrying scene, today’s column features clips from home movies at the house. There’s that popular chair carrying clip but most of this comes from a tour of the house that we shot on March 15, 1997... The footage was shot by my friend Mike Roth, and you get to see some bizarre stuff at that house.. Including my mother who subtly implied that she didn’t like me going near her antique lamp!. I still have that focokta lamp.. That lamp goes so far back.. Here is a pic from the late 60s of a cute little baby looking in awe at that lamp.. and notice how my grandfathers both wore jackets and ties when Little Nate came for a visit. The shot was taken at my grandparents house in Far Rockaway, before my Mom ended up with the lovely lamp, and now we have it. During the move, it was boxed like all Italian Lamps… In a box stamped “Fragile”…. When I heard the director of "A Christmas Story" died last month it made realize that Life is Fragile. Anyway, the movie is underneath the pic.. Click play to start the festivities!

Now time for the Movie...

No comments: