Tag Archives: Corner #16

Life at Corner #16

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Kate and Jen, coloring Easter eggs, 1981

Living one year on Beaver Island had changed me. I had grown up. I had more confidence in myself. I was more comfortable with my life.

Before Beaver Island, I would beg my husband to take us somewhere (usually to his parent’s house for dinner and a few games of cards) two or three evenings a week, when he came home from work. Though I’m sure they got to the point of dreading our drop-in visits, now they were so rare, my in-laws even brought it up. Our relationship with them hadn’t changed.  I was just less needy.

We were busy, too. Our first year back seemed to fly by. Jen zipped through the second grade. She started third grade the same year that Kate started kindergarten. They were in swimming classes for part of the year, and ballet classes for part of the year. I was back in college, in Flint, with a full load of classes, and working as a server at the Big Boy restaurant in Lapeer. Terry traveled to Arkansas for a few weeks to help his cousin with a big job there. I wrote an essay for a national organization, and won an Honorable Mention. Sometimes, with a deadline for a drawing or painting class, I’d turn our kitchen into an art studio. For a few days, meals would be basic picnic fare, as I took over table and wall space for creative endeavors. We planted a big garden in the summers there. My sister, Cheryl, and I started bicycling together. Now and then, I babysat for her children.

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Easter morning, 1981

We had left Beaver Island with a stack of bills, and a packet of information on new land parcels for sale on Eagle Hill Drive. We intended to get caught up, then buy land, eventually put up a small house, and move back to the island with a secure place to live. It was a good plan, and we were making good progress on the stack of bills…when my husband fell off a roof.

Terry broke both arms and sprained a leg. We were lucky! It could have been much worse. With my restaurant tips now our main source of income, all plans slowed. Still, I continued to send little checks, five dollars here, ten dollars there, to the patient creditors on Beaver Island, to pay off our debts. Mrs. Chapman, whose husband had provided us with both gasoline and fuel oil, would always send nice receipts. “Thank you for the effort,” she’d write, “every little bit helps!” I continued, too, to put a little bit in a savings account every week, looking to the future.

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Jen, looking for eggs, Easter morning, 1981

 

Corner #16

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Cindy, in the kitchen at Corner #16, 1980

“Corner #16” was at the intersection of M24 and Burnside Road. My next address was 31 E.Burnside Road, just two buildings away from that intersection, in the back half of a duplex that was made of the building that was once the Deerfield Township Hall. The new Deerfield Township Hall, a big, modern building with a large, fenced parking lot, was across the road.

Our building was a long rectangle of cement blocks, painted in that pale green that is often associated with hospitals and other institutions. The large yard was fenced on three sides. On one side of our house was  a cute little residence where an older gentleman lived. He had a stash of “the good stuff,” he told us: the spray for insects that was now illegal. If we’d like, he could spray our yard, too. “No, thanks,” I told him, “I don’t mind the bugs.” He was friendly and kind to us, but I can’t remember his name or much of anything  about him except for the DDT. Past that house was Bryan’s Market, on the corner.

In the other direction, there was a drive with small houses lining it; more yards and houses and drives that led into little subdivisions continued down Burnside Road, with an occasional old farm house. My sister, Cheryl, lived down that way, in a nice home that looked out on a pasture.

Just a short drive south on M24, and off to the right was Sweet School, where Jen would start second grade. The school had classrooms for kindergarten through third grade; after that the students went in to North Branch for school. Its smaller size seemed perfect, as a transition from the Beaver Island School.

Continuing south on M24 would bring us to Lapeer, ten miles away. From there, it was about twenty miles to my college classes in Flint. North on M24 from our house would bring us to the highway leading into the village of North Branch. Though we were technically in Deerfield Township, our address was North Branch.

There were two sets of cement steps, and two doors on the driveway side of the building. The first door led to the front unit, where a young couple lived with their twin babies. The second door led into our new kitchen. It was a spacious, open room with a row of cabinets filling the far wall. The refrigerator was  straight ahead, on the wall that divided kitchen from living room. There was an old stove there, too, with only two working burners and no oven. For about the first eight months that we lived there, I used my electric frying pan to bake bread and rolls, lasagna, even birthday cake! The dining table fit nicely in the center of the room. At Christmastime, there was plenty of space for a large, decorated tree in there, too. I loved that kitchen!

Just to the left of the entry door, a wide passage led into the living room. Windows on both exterior walls all had deep sills, compliments of the concrete block construction, that were perfect for holding houseplants. A “front” door in that room led out to the back yard. It was the biggest living room I’d ever had, almost twenty feet in either direction.

Two doors on the far wall led into  bedrooms. For a home with such an expansive living space, the bedrooms were tiny. Their dimensions were, I’m guessing here, maybe 10′ x10′ with a closet carved out of one wall. A hallway to the right led to the bathroom, which also held the washer and dryer. A door at the end of the hall hid the hot water heater.

This was our new home!