Estate Sale.


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Two people, a Guatemalan born man, and his wife, raised three girls and one boy in this 1933 Van Nuys house.

The children grew into adults. They went to college, then graduate or medical school, and became highly educated professionals.

The parents, and another relative, stayed behind in the old house, a Spanish style ranch with a red tile roof and backyard full of fruit trees, and numerous potted, flowering plants.

All the old people died a few years ago. Now the house is being prepped for an estate sale. The lady running the sale is my friend. She invited me into the home to survey it.

It seems that nobody ever threw anything away. And every square space of the property was full of mountains of metals, tools, cans, bottles, wood, and machinery.

Packed tight in the front of the house was a tiny kitchen, dining room, living room and a two bedrooms. But in the back was a secret, unofficially constructed warren of rooms and an old patio converted to an indoor sewing room, and another bathroom, added on.

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Outside, a jerry-built outdoor sink was plumbed up to an exterior wall. External electrical outlets taped up to live connections was nearby. A family of raccoons made their home above old lawn mowers and a rusted gasoline blowtorch. Any space that could store things, did.

Yet, these people were not pack rats or hoarders. They were, most likely, born poor, and through thrift, industry, and hard work, and a strong dose of Catholic faith, they persevered and prospered.

The front of their home has always been neat. The lawn is cut, the driveway swept, the cyclone metal fence keeps guard along the street. Birds of Paradise have grown large and cover the front living room window.

And when this house is sold, and the contents banished or transferred to new owners, the life of people who once inhabited this home will be erased forever.

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2 thoughts on “Estate Sale.

  1. Thanks for the ‘photo op’. Andy…these were the homes built for returning veterans of WWII. Almost all were 1 + 1, with a few 2 + 1 setups. They were small, convenient, with back yards for raising a couple of kids. It was considered a mainstay of “the American dream”…the brunt of Van Nuys was built with this in mind…as were the businesses neatly lined up along Van Nuys Blvd., meant to serve that community as it grew. The problem is always the same-best sealed in our memories through “the Field of Dreams”…and/but they just keep on coming. The thing is, there are absolute limits to such growth…and we passed those limits long ago. So the question of quality of life has been answered…and for those who doubt, go check out the Facebook site for Tommie’s Valley Relics and see all the great recollections from, folks… … …but then realize most of these folks now live out-of-state. That’s right, they moved away…it’s called ‘white flight’…though none need be burdened of such racial implications. The truth is that developers will always buy up properties cheap and then develop them for “HIGHEST AND BEST USE”…those final words are emblazoned on the rolls of all great cities-perhaps centuries before any of them fall for good! Mind you, highest and best use pretty much implies turning single family lots into high rises, condominium developments and massive apartment outbreaks…cramming as many people as they possibly can into the smallest possible spaces. Can one even imagine what this does to/for the human psyche-esp. in the young. As it is with dogs and their needs, so it is for kids-a definite need to be ‘aired out’, to be able to run around and play in open spaces…even our parks are so damned limited that they are embarrassingly overcrowded on weekends. While it does overheat my own thinking, the reality is that these people are being perfectly normal. They are going to the few spaces available to them to get out and have a bit of open space…but such spaces are few and far between and, rather than gaining more openings with each new development, we are losing those spaces on a daily basis. Soon, this once wide-open-range will be wall-to-wall asphalt, brick and mortar, plaster and cinder block…and a rainstorm will be considered a white wash for the streets-nothing more…You don’t believe me? Check out what floats in the L.A. River…and do any of you even/ever consider where it floats to???

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