Nine Thirty-Two

A.K.A…a long overdue post…

I’m not sure where to begin, but there are some days that you think will never come, and some things that you will just never be ready for.

This past summer was a very busy summer of travel for Missy and I. Most of the time, our busy-ness involved our very well documented trip to Italy. Sadly, there was one trip we had to make under exceptionally different circumstances. This past June, Missy and I made an unplanned trip back to my hometown, Hagerstown, Maryland, to say goodbye to the house I was raised in.

I was three years old in 1986 when my sister Hannah was born. The house I had lived in up to that point was just too small for my growing family, so we moved into a much bigger house…932 Oak Hill Avenue.

932 Oak Hill Avenue, Summer 2001.  Oh, and that's definitely the car I drove to High School.

932 Oak Hill Avenue, Summer 2001. Oh, and that's definitely the car I drove to High School.

For reasons I care not to delve into in this venue, the time finally came to move my Mom and 25 years worth of “stuff” out of the only house that I had really known while growing up. So rather than spend time looking at the how, why, and what could have been…I thought I would spend a few minutes on a walk down memory lane, looking back on all the good times had in that place I called home for so many years.

Home. I know that it’s a trite, overused expression, but what makes a house a home? Four walls, a floor, and a roof…it could have been Anywhereville, USA. Somewhere though, there is a tape of my 5 year old little voice answering a question from my Mom:

“Tommy, in case you get lost, what is your address?”

“932 Oak Hill Avenue, Hagerstown Maryland.”

Those four walls, floor, and roof however, well…they were mine. If those walls could talk! So many traditions were formed and shaped there. Traditions I, for the most part hated growing up, but looking back…it seems like my childhood would not be complete without them.

Like fruitcakes. Now, who doesn’t like a good Christmas fruitcake? My mom has a recipe that supposedly makes the “best tasting Christmas fruitcakes ever“. Now, I have honestly never given them the time of day, but every winter the siblings would gather around the food grinder to grind up candy fruits, which mom would then take and compile the final product.

Making fruitcakes in the early years...

Making fruitcakes in the early years...

Later in life, having perfected our technique.

Later in life, having perfected our technique.

Winter 2008.  Like I said...it's a tradition.

Winter 2008. Like I said...it's a tradition.

There were many other traditions that we had in the Hardinge household. Although I don’t have many pictures to show for it here with me in Iowa, every year on the first day of school we were “forced” to have our picture taken. Now…inside would have been fine…

Chicken Pox.

Chicken Pox.

but no, these pictures just had to be taken outside, in the front of the house, where all of my friends driving by could point and laugh…or so I thought while said pictures were being taken.

Aside from traditions, there are a kajilion other memories from this house that would take me weeks and weeks to put into words. 17 steps from downstairs to upstairs. Christmas stockings at the foot of the bed to dive into before presents were open. Playmobil Western Town, Space Legos, and Transformers in the basement…later to be replaced by drumsets, guitars, and stereos. There were good times and bad. Family gatherings. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, New Years. Countless days spent sick on the couch with a cold, fever, recovering from wisdom teeth being pulled, and the dreaded Chicken Pox!

Maybe I’ll write a memoir later in life that describes in detail the amazing time spent at 932. Ok, so maybe not. I probably won’t ever write one…but, I guess you never know. There are a lot many things I’d like to write about…but they would probably only seem interesting to me and a handful of other people. So we’re probably not looking at a NY Times bestseller. But I digress…I’ll just stick to blogging. Back to the memories.

Hannah and I spent many-a-day playing on the front porch.

Hannah and I spent many-a-day playing on the front porch.

Making cookies was another Christmas tradition.

Making cookies was another Christmas tradition.

One of many birthday parties...looks like eighth grade.  Sweet hair cuts all around...

One of many birthday parties...looks like eighth grade. Sweet hair cuts all around...

My high school bedroom.

My high school bedroom.

It was very hard to say goodbye, but we kept too busy with the move to spend too much time dwelling on the situation though. The whole family was over to help with the final push to get the house emptied. They had helped start the whole processes weeks before Missy and I arrived, and it could not have happened without them. That Saturday night, we had a final party at the house; a final sendoff: hardshell crabs and beers in the driveway (it’s a Maryland thing), and a bonfire to cap off the night.

25 years worth of stuff.

25 years worth of stuff.

The family party for a final send-off.

The family party for a final send-off.

All my siblings and I were able to go through boxes upon boxes of things that have been saved from years gone by. We had some good laughs, and even some good cries. I can’t believe the amount of stuff that was in that house…but in the end it was all moved out and eventually the house was emptied, and with it, the memories that were made over the course of 25 years. It was very surreal seeing the house so empty…something that I was too young to remember the last time it was like that. So, it was a sad trip indeed, but Missy and I were definitely glad we got to say our goodbyes.

A very surreal sight seeing the attic so empty.

A very surreal sight seeing the attic so empty.

It will be hard going back to Hagerstown this winter and for the first time, not going back into that house. I’m not quite sure how I am going to handle it, honestly. But even though I won’t have the house…those walls, floor, and roof…I will still have the people, pictures, and memories with me that made it a home. Thanks for the memories, Nine Thirty-Two. You will be missed.

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About Tom Hardinge

Loving husband to my wife Missy, loving father to my four daughters Sienna, Rowan, Jovie, and Lola. I'm a chronic over-packer who loves good coffee, good music, running, waffle tee's, fleece pants, and Jesus Christ!

7 thoughts on “Nine Thirty-Two

  1. lol, that picture of rob holding maisie.

    And who’s bowl cut are you referring to? Because I think Addie’s was def the most authentic, though he didn’t have the sweet skin circle on his forehead where the hair curled in on either side – hahaha. The sad part is, there was a time in my life when I had one too.

    Good post, bro! Nine three two, here’s to you!

    • That’s honestly one of my favorite pics of all of us! I don’t care how cheesy it may seem, it’s one that will always make me smile. I was referring to both cuts actually…I’ll update the post to make it a little more clear. Oh, and I searched your blog and stole some pics…hope you don’t mind!!!

      • oh don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that picture! But it makes me laugh because of Maisie. She’s just kind of floating there. No struggling. Totally accepts the fact that she’s 6 feet above the ground. Hahahaha.

  2. When we moved into that house, 2/3 of the backyard was in corn, there was a wagon wheel light on the front porch and two black jockeys on the stoop. It was a made to order fixer-upper, but it was the family and the love of all of you that made it what it became. The surreal thing now is not having you all around to visit with or corral into helping me with something or other. Somewhere along the line you did what you were supposed to do – you grew up on us. Like your mother says, God is good.

  3. Pingback: Construction Update | One Year Later | living in pursuit

  4. Pingback: Construction Update #20 | One Year Later | living in pursuit

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