• • •  2342 ARLINGTON AVENUE  • • •  
Home of Gramma and Grampa Isaly
From Ellen Isaly Clark:

he stone and frame house at 2342 Arlington Avenue, built in 1916 and purchased by Walter and Henrietta Isaly, was the central gathering place for their three children, Betty, Bud and Earl, and the six grandchildren, Auntie, and much of our extended family as well.

The photo above shows the home back before the driveway was even paved. A long stone walkway led from the sidewalk by the street up to the stone porch. All the windows were beautiful leaded glass and even today, the owners have retained that original front door. Unfortunately, they have painted it a ghastly shade of bright blue.

I'm not sure who that is, standing in the yard - does anyone know?

I think we all have special memories of events that took place within he walls of this family home; the holiday gatherings, Easter egg hunts, and birthdays.

I spent my whole life there, from about eighteen months to 22 years of age. My room was in the front of the second floor, overlooking Arlington Avenue. I had a beautiful window seat which was actually a cedar chest. Gramma hung frilly white "crisscross" curtains at the window and I always had some sort of pink flowery wallpaper, until I was in high school, at which time she silently groaned and gave in to my desire for yellow walls and deep pile orange shag carpet. I can only imagine all the stuff I lost in that carpet ... once something was dropped, it was gone forever. But it was very 1960's and I loved it!

A few years ago, I was driving down Arlington Avenue and pulled into the driveway. I took a deep breath, walked to the front door, and when a young woman answered the door, I told her who I was, and that I had grown up in the house and wondered who lived there now. She kindly invited me inside, and oh my goodness - what an experience!

The same blue carpet was in place in the living room, but they had exposed the hardwood floors in the dining room and sunroom. I walked into the dining room and was startled at how small everything seemed; it had seemed palatial when I was a little girl. I looked over at the front window and noted a deep groove in the painted wooden windowsill. It reminded me of the times I played with my tiny china animals on that windowsill, and that groove was the "river" in my imaginary world.

The kitchen had changed dramatically, having been expanded and remodeled. It took me a few moments to get my bearings, trying to remember the way it had been. Remember the breakfast room, with the red patterned wallpaper and yellow painted woodwork - including pencil markings where Grampa had marked all our height measurements? That breakfast room had become a pantry of sorts. They had extended the screened / glassed-in porch so that it went all the way across the back of the house. And behind the kitchen, out toward the garage, one of the owners had built a lovely family room with a stone corner fireplace and a beautiful mother-in-law suite above.

The garage in the back was torn down and a new one was built in the side yard, between our house and the Lathrops'. It's odd to me, because it's detached from the house and is quite far from the kitchen entrance, where people would carry in groceries from the car and so forth. I don't really get it.

The sunroom, where Gramma and Grampa watched TV, had become a seldom-used piano room with hardwood floors. The living room, full of so many memories from my childhood, seemed small, but I could picture the Christmas tree in the corner and the six of us sitting beneath it, posing for the annual Christmas picture. Remember how Grampa had his chair in the corner of the sunroom, but he also had a chair in the living room, next to his "smoking stand"? In the drawer, he kept his cigars and always had a box of Good & Plenty candies, which we called "fours." Each evening, if Grampa deemed that I had eaten a good enough dinner, he would give me two white and two pink "fours."

I looked into the sunroom and could picture Gramma in her swivel rocker - remember the blue chair? - in the corner by the window. She always sat there, reading or watching TV, with the photo of Grampa next to her. I always thought that was touching.

The couple who lived there had a little girl, Jenny, who was about five years old. She asked me if I wanted to go to her room, so of course I said yes, assuming that it was probably the same room I'd had as a child. It was, and when we walked in, I got very emotional - the windowseat was covered with dolls, as it had been when I lived there, and she had frilly white curtains at the leaded glass windows. Two canopied twin beds practically filled the room - and when I was small, I dreamed of having canopy beds.

I noticed that the beautiful mahogany door still had the lovely original glass door knob on it. Everything that I didn't realize I remembered came flooding back to me ... the happy days I spent in that room, the sometimes scary nights (I was scared of everything!), sitting at my desk in front of the window, typing my homework, watching my little portable TV in the corner ... all these memories came rushing at me, and the tears came to my eyes. I was standing there, tears running down my face, and little Jenny came over, took my hand, looked way up at me, and said, "When you lived in my room, were you a happy girl?

That did it. Here came the tears - and I sputtered, "Yes! I was a real-l-l-ly happy girl when I lived in your room." She looked confused at my tears, running down my smiling face. What an emotional journey it was! Jenny was small and brunette like me, and I was so happy that she was also having the experience of living in that special room.

As I left, I stopped to look at the Lathrops' old home, recently beautifully and grandly remodeled, and remembered summer afternoons with Anne, playing Chinese Checkers on the Lathrops' porch, and evenings when I'd look over and see Mr. and Mrs. Lathrop (Tom and Carolyn) reading by the light of a 40-watt bulb. They never did own a TV. Mr. lathrop passed away in 1985 at the age of 95. Dear Mrs. Lathrop lived to be 109 years old, and often came by our home here to visit in her later years, accompanied by her niece. In this photo, she was 100 years old (1988). See an article from the Dispatch about Mrs. Lathrop and her amazing 109-year life>>>

The row of peony bushes was still intact and I know that Anne would remember plucking the petals from those beautiful red flowers and making "lips" out of them! haha! How fancy we thought we were!

Anne and I also had a secret "grocery store" that we called Big Bear, behind the Lathrops' house, where they had a grapevine. We took our dollies with us and "shopped" at our secret store.

Remember the family picnics we had in the yard between the Lathrops' home and ours? The cherry trees in the back, over the stone patio? I know Patty remembers the apple trees that grew in that part of the yard, too, because she loved those sour green apples so much!

We also used to set up croquet in the side yard and being the biggest non-athlete and the hugest klutz in the family, I always lost; my ball always seemed to ricochet off the post or a wicket and go rolling off under the peonies! Those games could get pretty competitive.

I remember all the times I would hear Tom's fabulous red 442 pulling into the driveway, gurgling and rumbling, and I'd run to the door because I always loved it when Tom came to visit, especially when he started bringing Jeannie over.

Tom wrote a reminiscence of how Grampa used to install those reflector poles at the end of the driveway so Auntie wouldn't drive over his lawn. Gramma and I thought they were hideous! But as Tom said, regardless of Grampa's efforts, there were always deep grooves in the grass near the driveway apron. Auntie simply couldn't gauge her turns in that Chevy Bel-Air yacht she drove. Geez, she couldn't even see over the steering wheel!

The house was truly a HOME ... and it meant a lot to us, as the ones who made it that way.

What do YOU remember about the old house at 2342 Arlington Avenue? Please share your thoughts and I will post them here.