812: The Home! - Taming the West Wind

October 26, 2019


Percy Bysshe Shelley, you know - Mary Shelley of Frankenstein fame's husband, expressed it so aptly...

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

And as autumn waned into winter, cold was the night when the west winds blew into the face of 812.  The house faced the west, and with that old door and the fact that the old place wasn't insulated back in the day, our family lived on the chilly side (definitely an understatement) in the winter when those west winds blew straight in the face of 812, right through the front door.  

My kid brother in 1972
The picture above was taken in 1972 when our family had been in the house for maybe a year or so, and I think we were renting at the time.  The west wind always knocked at that door behind my brother, and just inside that door was the living room...


I have no photographic evidence, and there's always the chance that the passage of decades has clouded my memory, but I think I recall mom occasionally turning on the oven and the burners on the stove to augment the heat from the furnace.  And I'm almost sure of this one - many were the days the house was imbued with the acridly-sweet smell of kerosene heaters!


By 1978 my folks had bought 812 and dad went right to work on the whole place.  I don't recall the order of things, but at some point it was time for the front porch to come off.  Dad's idea was to build an entry that faced south so every time someone came in, the cold wind wouldn't  just bum-rush the whole house.   I can still remember dad digging the footers and framing the room.  My most vivid memory though, was when dad framed the opening for the window.  


He didn't actually have the window yet, but knew the dimensions so he just went ahead and built it.  When the window arrived, it snapped into place and was installed with almost no need for shimming.  Pretty good figurin'!


I also remember that when he tore down the porch, he saved as many of the cedar shingles as he could so they could be placed in the areas where the porch roof met the house and where the new room met up with the front of the house.  From day one, the room blended in perfectly!


The inside became the perfect spot to enter the house instead of directly into the living room.  812 had a foyer!


Dad even built a bookcase in the room...


For years that bookcase displayed our baseball trophies and dad's collection of Avon decorative cologne decanters that mom gave him on birthdays and holidays.  I wish they still had those old decanters, but here's an internet picture in case you don't know what I'm talking about:


However, I still have some of the old trophies, and even put a couple in the bookcase in the dining room here at House 173.


The front room at 812, along with innumerable other changes made to the house, tamed the west wind and helped to make 812 truly the family home.  Here's what she looks like now!

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