Tag Archives: Court Street

Before I Go…

baby jen

Found another picture! This one of Jennifer and Fritz, playing together with his yarn toy

Before I leave the downstairs apartment on Court Street, there are a couple other random thoughts that come to mind.

My husband’s cousin, Steve, lived just two blocks away with his wife Ami and their daughter Chrissy.  When Chrissy was born, Steve came knocking on our door in the middle of the night to get Terry. “Ya gotta come see her,” he said, excitedly, “she looks just like a night crawler!” Well, she was a long, skinny baby, but beautiful. As an infant, she’d get one leg kicking, as she lay on her back making baby noises. It reminded her parents of Thumper,  the rabbit in the Disney movie, Bambi, so that’s what they called her. The nickname stuck, at least until she started school. Steve and Terry(my husband) formed a band. They got together most weekends to play guitars and drink. Ami and I had both come from large families, and we’d both grown up on Lake Nepessing. Sometimes we visited while the guys practiced.

When I came home from the hospital with my new baby, my husband’s Uncle Ronny and his girlfriend, Caroline, followed us right into the driveway. They were excited to meet the newest addition to the family. I was appalled! I didn’t want company! I was tired and sore and a little frightened of parenthood. I did not feel like being social. I didn’t want people picking up my baby! The apartment was so open, there was no escape. I couldn’t close myself and my baby in the bedroom, as there was only a sheer curtain to divide it from the living room. I rudely sulked the entire time they were there. I didn’t offer to make coffee; I barely spoke. When Caroline asked if she could hold Jennifer, I blurted, “I’ve hardly had a chance to hold her myself!” They didn’t stay long.

My husband went back to work the day after that. His grandmother Ida Mae, who we called “Grandma B”, came four days in a row to help me while Terry was at work. Sometimes, when Jennifer was sleeping, I’d take a nap. I rested easier knowing that Grandma B was there. She was moral support more than anything, but it was a pleasure to have her around. She told me about moving households with a horse and open cart – in the pouring rain – with four little children, and how their mattresses were all drenched by the time they reached their destination. She told me about when her son, Bob, was born. The doctor came by later and hefted him, estimated his weight – from experience  – and told her what a big, healthy baby she had. It’s odd to think that Ida Mae was probably, then, about the age that I am now…she seemed so ancient!

That’s about all I remember from this old address. We were on Court Street – in two different apartments – for about eighteen months. I didn’t realize how much I liked living in town, until I moved away. Having grown up out in the country, I thought that was ideal, especially when raising a family. When the opportunity came up, we moved.

The First (Upstairs) Court Street Apartment



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Well, when I was eighteen years and four and a half months old, I got married.

There was talk, young and poor as we were, that we would move in with my in-laws. I didn’t like that idea (though my in-laws were wonderful people!) and neither did my sister, Brenda. When everyone else was telling me there was no way we could find a place to rent with our meager income, Brenda was helping me scour the newspaper classified ads, to look for affordable rentals. She was helping me plan a reasonable budget. She made me excited about having my own place, and setting up my own household.

My soon-to-be husband made about ninety dollars a week working on the line at a small factory. I worked two days a week as a Nurse Aide at the hospital; it paid minimum wage. About a month before the wedding, we put a security deposit down, and paid first month’s rent for an odd little upstairs apartment on Court Street in Lapeer, Michigan. The rent was $105.00 a month, heat included.

The address, if memory serves, was 207B N. Court Street. It was two blocks away from the beautiful old Lapeer County Court House where sit-ins and other protests occasionally took place. It was across the street from Anrook Park, and walking distance to all of downtown. The building had been a large, Victorian duplex. It had a big front porch, heavy doors and etched glass in the transom windows. It had clearly been an impressive building, at one time. Not so much, in 1971, when we rented it.

At some point, the building had been divided into four apartments, with the bare minimum in adjustments. Our apartment had once been the upstairs bedrooms for one of the duplexes. That’s how it was laid out. When you crossed the porch and went through the entry door, you found yourself in a small foyer. To the right was a door that led into the downstairs apartment. Straight ahead was our door. There was barely enough space for it to swing open, and beyond it, immediately, were stairs going up.

At the top of the stairs, there was a long hall. Straight ahead, what had originally been a bedroom was now plumbed, wired and divided into an alcove that held the only sink, a kitchen and a bathroom. down the hall and off to the right was a large room with a walk in closet. Though it was clearly meant to be a bedroom, because of its close vicinity to the entry, we deemed it the living room. At the very end of the hall was the largest room; we used that as the bedroom.

The building had clearly settled over the years. The room that we called the living room had a two-foot drop from one side of the room to the other. The hallway tilted to the north and the west. The bathtub sat at a rakish angle that was most evident when filled. The walls were rough plaster covered with a variety of wallpapers. Floors were linoleum with old fashioned patterns. We thought it was all quite wonderful!

The kitchen was my favorite room. It had one of the few brand new furnishings: a small dining room set, purchased from the trailer factory outlet. Oval in shape, metal legs supported a dark brown wood-look top, and four gold vinyl chairs. The wallpaper in that room was a floral red, yellow and blue pattern on a cream ground. I hung my “Uncle Sam wants YOU” poster on the wall. I brought in the wedding gifts of daisy patterned melamine dishes, Teflon pans and CorningWare.  I had the cutest set of glasses: clear with red and white stripes around the bottom and blue stars around the top. My  father-in-law had picked them up at a country auction, and gave them to me when he saw that they went along with my color scheme.

I don’t have a single photograph of this apartment. I can picture it clearly in my mind, though, as if it was only yesterday that I tilted down that crooked hall!