By Bob Dietsche
Thanks to Jack Nicholson bucket lists have become fashionable. So last week I made a list. I would like to visit Thomas Wolfe’s memorial in Asheville, North Carolina. or take the boat ride to Catalina Island or be a part of the crowd at a Steelers and Browns football game, but most of all I want to go home again. I want to revisit the house in Toledo, Ohio that I grew up in 70 years ago. Perhaps you’re asking why would anyone want to do that? The terminally nostalgic or as lyricist Dave Frishberg put it: “people with a psychopathic involvement with the past.”
I drive by my old house every time I am in Toledo, but I want to go inside. I want to know what it is like to step back in time realizing that several generations have made changes at 4108 N. Lockwood. This urge is more than just a nostalgic trip. I want to test my memory. Could I climb the stairs , turn right, and find my bedroom? Will the size of the rooms inside match my recollection? Is the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen where I remember? And what happened to the coal eating furnace in the basement that my Dad and I used to feed each night? Is there still a place in the backyard where grass would never grow? I get a rush just thinking about it, but with some apprehension. What is it going to be like when I step inside, where the past and present are there all at once like an episode out of the Twilight Zone?
I want to know what the current owners think about my old house and why they bought it. I want to know what they think about the neighborhood and Whittier Elementary where I went to school. Does it still have great teachers like Ms. Dryfus, Ms. Moon and Ms. Atkins ?
I thought a lot on how to make this happen. I can’t out of the blue just knock on the door. My friend April has a better idea: She said, “find out the names of the current residents on Google and ask them if they would be willing to let you have a one hour tour at their convenience.”
News at 11.
Bob Dietsche is author of “Tatum’s Town: The Early History of Art Tatum” and “Jumptown: Golden Years of Portland Jazz.”