The opening lines of Home, Sweet Home
"Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home;
There was a day not long ago when owing a home meant owning the proverbial “American Dream”. A place where you could call home and come home on a Sunday afternoon, smell mom’s apple pie permeating throughout the house as us kids played out side all day until the street lights came on.
I remember those days when I grew up in Anaheim, California and in 1977 when my parents purchased a typical single level suburban home right down the street from my elementary school.
It was a dream come true for my Canadian born parents who had worked hard all their lives to become Americans and own a slice of the American Dream. It was also nirvana for us children as we were free to roam our new huge backyard looking for bugs and playing kick ball well into the evening.
I was the last of 4 children and I lived there until I was old enough to move out on my own and leave the nest for my parents to tend to.
My parents didn’t purchase their home for investment purposes. They didn’t refinance the home repeatedly to buy bigger and better cars or toys. They did it to have a better life and to raise their family in safe and secure place that we all could call “home”.
A dream come true for two Canadians who were desparately trying to do the right thing for their family.
I’ll always remember that home that they bought for $77,000 in 1977. When they eventually sold it in 1999 for $390,000, they though they had hit the jack pot.
We would often drive by that old house and see what the new homeowners were up to. To our surprise, less than 2 years later, that same home was sold for $475,000. We were all flabbergasted and my father was pretty upset that he could have held on for a couple more years and had an extra $100,000 towards his already lean retirement income.
I remember speaking with him about it as we had a beer on his porch that night. I said, “Dad, you did what was best for you and mom at the time. The yard was too big, the house was too large for you two. You sold it to have a better life for you and mom, not to make money.”
My father then said, “You know son, you’re right as he cracked open a Bud Light and a unlit cigarette dangles from his lips. We raised you kids there and it we sure had our ups and downs, but it was home. I didn’t buy that damn house to make money. I bought it so you all had a home that you could call your own. A place where I could rest my ass after a long days work, crack open a beer like we are having now and turn up my country music as loud as I want.”
He said this as Tony Orlando came on the radio as he turned up the dial on the radio and started singing “Tie a yellow and old ribbon around the old oak tree.”
Oh tie a yellow ribbon
‘Round the old oak tree
It’s been three long years
Do you still want me
If I don’t see a yellow ribbon
‘Round the old oak tree
I’ll stay on the bus, forget about us
Put the blame on me
If I don’t see a yellow ribbon
‘Round the old oak treeJust then that song took me back in my mind to a time when I was a child and my dad used to work in the yard without his shirt, drinking beer and listening to Tony Orlando. I smiled, as I cracked open my beer and offered a cheers to my dad. He acknowledged my offering as our aluminum cans met each other in a sign of, “It’s all good.”
You see, there are millions of Americans that own a home for their own reasons and most of those reasons are not for monetary purposes. My dad just wanted a place where he could raise us kids, crack open a beer and listen to his country music as loud as we wanted. That’s all.
I have such fond memories of that house and when they sold it, to be honest, mom and dad’s new house never felt like “home”. My sisters and I agree on this as does my Father. He tells me often that he wishes he never sold that home in Anaheim. Quite often I feel the same. It wasn’t the house that made it a home, it was the sweet memories that we all cherish to this day.
And no, it’s not because that home was flipped 3 more times and later sold for over $700,000, HELL NO!
Our family wishes he never sold that home because it was home, sweet home.
I picked up an old Times article back from 1933 titled, “Home, Sweet Home” that gave me the idea for this post. The article was written back when President Hoover was battling over housing issues that were affecting our country and its people.
It really touched me that a President of this great country would take something that means so much to the American people and really take it to his heart to do something about it.
“For weeks President Hoover has been carrying around a little 5¢ pad of paper in his pocket, jotting down random message ideas with a stubby pencil.”
These words from President Hoover were from his heart. He labored intensely and whole heatedly over this issue for 2 solid months as he delivered this speech to the assembled delegates of the President’s Conference on Home Building & Home Ownership.
Over these warm words and some 1,900 others like them President Hoover had worked with a full heart for two months. One evening last week he took them all, in the form of a keynote address, to Constitution Hall and there, in a voice brimming with emotion…….
“Next to food and clothing, the housing of a nation is its most vital problem. . . . The sentiment for home ownership is embedded in the American heart [of] millions of people who dwell in tenements, apartments and rented rows of solid brick. . . .
This aspiration penetrates the heart of our national well-being. It makes for happier married life. It makes for better children. It makes for courage to meet the battle of life. . . . There is a wide distinction between homes and mere housing. Those immortal ballads, ‘Home, Sweet Home,’ ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ and ‘The Little Grey Home in the West’ were not written about tenements or apartments. . . .
They were written about an individual abode, alive with tender associations of childhood, the family life at the fireside, the free out-of-doors, the independence, the security and the pride in possession of the family’s own home. . . . Many of our people must live under other conditions. But they never sing songs about a pile of rent receipts. . . .” As the Times article stated, “At this great gathering President Hoover again demonstrated his ability and leadership in an unofficial activity outside the constitutional realm of the Presidency.”
Maybe President Bush can take some cues from President Hoover and really reflect on what many Americans are going through right now.
For Your information Mr. Bush, our homes are certainly not as sweet as they once were and the “American Dream” as now turned into an “American Nightmare” for many homeowners and it has all been under you watch sir.
So, I urge you to dig deep and do what is right. Not just for the economy, but for the American people.