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The Storybook Neighborhood, Revisited


Years ago, I started posting photographs from dog-walks around historic Ft. Wayne, Indiana, calling the collection "the Storybook Neighborhood." Since then, I've moved, and realized that this neighborhood has suburbs wherever homes speak to the heart.

So last weekend we rode our bikes to Irvington, a little community within Indianapolis, and found a full-fledged Storybook Neighborhood outpost. Photos included.

I'm also including my very first blog post, from 2009.


The house I grew up in has been torn down. No great loss, really--a cinderblock structure Daddy built by hand, it lacked indoor plumbing until I was two. I remember more about the surrounding woods than the house.

What I remember is my grandparents'. Old, old places--the oldest house in Mt. Lakes, New Jersey belonged to my paternal grandparents. Two hundred fifty years of atmosphere met you at the door. Or the big brown 20's bungalow that belonged to my mom's folks.

I collected dream houses on every trip to town, my nose pressed against the passenger window. I populated my collected mansions with wealthy families with five daughters apiece, each with three syllable names: Jessica, Jennifer, Genevieve (this, back when every friend this only child had was either Debbie or Linda.) They wore pleated dresses and sat on seats in front of casement windows, when they weren't running down winding stairs to collect invitations passed through the brass slot in the front door.

Then some real houses came along. The house where we raised the boys still stands in Ohio; we were only its fourth family in a hundred years. Then I moved on to my own bungalow, a place that suited me so perfectly it took my breath away. I am still so thankful.

I was then, and am now, looking for slices of home. A banister here, a window there, I collect pictures in more file folders than I like to admit I own. I understand the old Brook Benton song about the boll weevil who was "lookin' for a home." I love the patriarch Abraham, who sought "a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." For some, it's a beach or a creek or a mountain, but for me, it's always a house. A friend in college wrote a song she titled "The Living Room of God's Love," and that's where I want to live. The house is just the box that represents heaven until I get there.


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