1631 North Lincoln Street, Burbank, California 91506

My childhood's home I see again,
And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There's pleasure in it too.

O Memory! thou midway world
'Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise,

And, freed from all that's earthly vile,
Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle
All bathed in liquid light.

Abraham Lincoln, 1844

This is the 1965 photograph of my childhood home that appeared in the real estate listing. We paid $18,950 for the place! (I don't remember what the monthly payments were, but as the loan was a mere 4% Veteran's Administration one, they must have been around $100!)

Our house was one of the many two-bedroom stucco-covered properties built in the forties to accommodate the San Fernando Valley real estate boom. Burbank had been marketed as a bedroom community since the turn of the century, but it wasn't until the motion picture and aircraft industries took root that things began to blossom.

Since Dad worked at Lockheed as a maintenance painter - the plant was just up the street - this house was an exceptionally easy commute for him. He worked the swing shift (3 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.), and could easily visit the house when he needed to driving one of the little Cushman vehicles that he used to transport paint.

Before we moved in, the previous owners - the Linsmeiers - had painted the house white with orange trim. We never got quite that bad.

These photos show the house as it looked in November 1972, the year we installed the cupola with the rooster weathervane. Jim Holland, a family friend, built it to our specifications. Unfortunately we provided him with interior plywood instead of the more durable exterior type, and eventually the whole thing became unglued and split apart from the rain and the sun.

That little silver dot in the left front window is a part of the Avon bottle collection we displayed. And no, those aren't real black iron hinges on the gate at the far right. Dad painted those on with black enamel. (Hollywood faux hinges! The black handle is real, though.)

One of the first things we did upon moving in was to plant cypress trees to hide the posts that supported the front porch. Dad got the idea from a Sunday drive through Beverly Hills, and supposed all the elite did things like this. (The black and white paint scheme, which I always thought was a little too stark and arty, was also a Beverly Hills inspiration.)

Yes, those are oil stains on the street in front of the house. All of our cars leaked oil. It was easier to put in more oil than to bother fixing the leak.

This photo shows the way I used to decorate the house for Christmas. I would climb onto the roof and nail up our strings of red lights. Usually the nails would pierce the asphalt roof tiles, which would crack apart, requiring an eventual re-roofing (an instance when my parents shouldn't have trusted me). Nowadays outdoor Christmas lights are smaller and of less wattage, and you can buy little plastic s-hooks at Wal-Mart that make attaching them to a roof (without damage) a breeze. Had these been around thirty years ago my parents would have saved thousands of dollars...

Those black shutters never stayed on the house. The first strong wind would blow them off, and we'd find them in the street somewhere. They would be nailed back on, and blow back off in the next wind storm.

You can't see it because I altered this photo to restore the original contrast, but two black picture frames (a smaller within a larger) were screwed onto the middle of the garage door as trim... Dad's idea of decor.

Above: the rooster weathervane, in situ, wearing my coat of gold leaf. I was really proud of that. The neighbors would have never guessed this, but it was partly inspired by an opera(!): Le Coq d'Or, by Rimsky-Korsakov. My father bought an LP of the orchestral suite derived from the opera while shopping at a Ralph's, and I became fond of the music and the story. (An account of this is here.) The stuff you see flaking off the rooster is varnish; I didn't know that gold leaf didn't need it. It's funny, but I now see this photo as being somewhat representative of this period of my life. The golden cockerel is perched above the San Fernando Valley floor, the Verdugo Hills in the distance, and he's watching our activities in the backyard pool and in the neighborhood. We have the money and the ability to encourage our sense of whimsy. All is well.

I presently have a (better copper) weathervane on a (far better) cupola on my garage; an Indian holding a bow preparing to fire an arrow. I told one of the little boys in the neighborhood that at Noon he fires the arrow. Whimsy lives on!


Next photo, the view from the front porch


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