At the age of four, my family moved to Alameda, California. This little island tucked away in the San Francisco Bay showcased many Victorian homes. These beauties included everything from quaint cottages to astounding mansions and varying sizes in between. While living on the island, children that lived in these houses, often told wild tales about secret rooms or spoke of hidden treasure. My brothers and I would often search for hidden rooms and fortune too. When I was five or six, I did find a prize, an antique teapot from Holland.
During my childhood years, my family rented a charming Victorian from my aunt and uncle. They bought the three-story home that previous owners had turned into an apartment that housed two families. Even though the home needed some TLC, I thought she was wonderfully exquisite. With loving eyes, I looked past the old, ugly fake brick siding that someone had placed on the exterior, for that was just cosmetics. The real test was the homes quality and character, and it had all of that and then some.
This residence hand many unique features. In its original state, it had four bedrooms on the third floor, and two of the rooms had large bay windows and crystal chandeliers. The front bedroom also had a small greenhouse. The upstairs bath had a beautiful, oversized claw foot bathtub. The bedroom in the back had a porch that led to the outside stairs. From these steps, we enjoyed a breathtaking view of the Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge. At night, we could gaze at the lights of the Mormon Temple that nestled in the Oakland Hills.
To enter the home, we climbed the stairs to a glass enclosed front porch on the second level. One front window had a lovely stained glass inset, and the front door was a beautifully carved door made of oak that also had a stained glass window that mimicked the front window. The second floor also had two large bay windows, one in the living room, and one in the formal dining room.
The foyer had a curved staircase, and a window from the third floor filled the area with a soft light. In a small corner tucked under the stairs, a tiny door led to the first level of the home. To the right through a pair of pocket doors was the living room. In the evenings, we mainly used lamps. The soft light provided a calm and relaxed surrounding, and it was one of my favorite places in the house.
The dining room turned family room offered a great deal of space for the family to sit and have fun. It also had pocket doors that led to the living room. Another gem incorporated into this home was the enclosed sun porch which maintained a wall of windows on three sides of the room. It also had a transom window above a small closet, and I often wondered if the tiny alcove was another entry into the house.
The large kitchen had a china hutch with a large bin that held large bags of potatoes. It had a large old-fashioned natural gas stove that included a large griddle in the center. Off the kitchen was a tiny room with an antique ball light fixture that hung from a chain. It also contained two small closets with a small alcove on top. The large butler’s pantry had built-in cabinets and shelves. Since the pantry was spacious, my mom placed an old kitchen table in the corner and would fold the laundry in this room too.
The first floor contained many rooms too. It had two garages, a bar, a laundry room, a pottery room, and an extra room with a dirt floor. My brothers and I spent many hours playing in the bar, the pottery room, and the room with the dirt floor, especially when the weather was bad.
Another favorite place was the backyard. It had a pond, but the cement foundation cracked and did not hold water. Still, it was pretty, for it had flowering trees and plants that surrounded it. We even had a Redwood Tree that swept past our three-story home. Wild raspberries and blackberries grew at the back of the lot, and we always enjoyed picking those sweet treats.
Our kind neighbor that we called Uncle John had a large avocado tree in his backyard that offered shade on sunny afternoons. I would often climb this tree to hide from the world and escape little brothers that often followed me everywhere. It was my secret place that I often enjoyed as a child.
Over the years, I have missed my island home and have longed to visit it again. The San Francisco Bay and the sandy beaches always continued to hold fond memories of a wondrous childhood when life was slower and more gentle. It was a time when family and friends spent time together and enjoyed sweet moments every day. Cherished memories remind of those days as I reminisce about my childhood home.