Archived Story

Same house for 66 years

Published 8:58pm Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Recently my wife and I were talking (yes, she still is my child bride wife).
I said, you know what? Since I’ve lived in my house here at 611 Orchard St. for 66 years, I wonder how many people have lived in the two houses on each side of mine.
I could recall 20 or more families who lived in the house on the south of mine, and probably 10 or so that lived on the north side.
It seems like in the olden days people far and few who owned their own homes.
A lot of families back in the 1930s rented.
My family when I was born rented the house at 501 Orchard St. for 12 years.
Then we rented one at 210 New York Ave. for two years (which is now the parking lot for the old school administration office building).
Then in 1944 my father rented this house at 611 Orchard St., and he died that same year. My mother then rented it until she passed on.
I then took over and rented it for several years.
Then one day the owner, Mr. Garrett of Kalamazoo, asked me if I would like to buy it.
He said he hated to sell the house he grew up in, but would like for me to own it.
I think he must have felt sorry for me as he sold it to me for $3,000 in 1951.
Just $100 down and $30 a month (now here is something to think about —old Charlie had to borrow the $100 from a good friend of mine who has serving the U.S. as a soldier in Korea).
Later on, I got a mortgage from the Dowagiac Savings and Loan through my friend Hal Palmer (Hal used to be our Dowagiac paper boy at 501 Orchard).
So here I am, almost 82 years old, and I only lived in three different houses.
The other day our friends Bob and Joyce Short asked us if we would like to go to Shipshewana, Ind.
We hadn’t been there in years and accepted the invitation.
I liked the samples of the cheeses and smoked meats at the stores.
Later we ended up for lunch at Dutchman’s Essenhaus Restaurant in Middlebury, Ind.
On our way to Shipshewana we came up to a large amount of cars parked on both sides of the road; as we got closer, it was for an Amish funeral.
On both sides of the road in fields were these many Amish horse and buggies. They were tied up in rows behind each other. I would estimate at least 75 or more. I wonder if it was for someone special.
It reminded me of the time I wrote about our jelly bean trip with Catherine Hart on April 21, 2011, and I never saw one Amish horse and buggy then.
But I sure made up for it on our last trip.
Another thing I noticed were many clothes drying on the outdoor clotheslines.
And all the stores had a place for the Amish horse and buggies to tie up their rigs. All in all, we had a pleasant fall drive and afternoon with Bob and Joyce.

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City. E-mail him at

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