Like several other babooners, my folks grew up during the Great Depression, and considered themselves very lucky to get to college, which is where they met – Iowa State Teachers College (now State University of Iowa). They were “upwardly mobile”, and worked hard to be able to eventually own a nice house in the midwest, and be solidly part of the middle class instead of the lower.
When I came home with a hippie-looking guy, they didn’t balk too much. (I think they were still relieved that I was no longer with Wasband.) They were glad when we finally got married, but they had to travel to some unusual places to visit us (and their only grandchild) those first 5 years – a farm outside Winona; a big old 1885 house with carriage barn in Winona; married student housing in Muncie, IN; and back to old Winona house. It was about that place that we had an interesting discussion.
Dad couldn’t see why we would buy such a shabby looking house. Admittedly, we bought it because of low price – it was a fixer upper for sure – and we had more time than money then, as Husband was doing part-time teaching at Winona State. Like all good “hippies”, we had some very shabby used furniture mixed in with a few genuine antiques, which must have reminded him of leaner times as a child. When they saw the “before” version, it looked like this:
But eventually we painted the exterior, replaced radiators with central heat, put in a fuel efficient furnace (some of these were covered by a block grant”), stripped painted woodwork (seven windows/doorways) in one room down to clear pine, and repapered or painted four rooms, getting rid of the black/gold flocked wall paper in the foyer. I’ll never forget how satisfying it was when the folks visited after we were all finished:
My dad looked around in amazement and said “I never would have thought the place could look this good.”
When have you been fooled by appearances?