A friend and I got to talking about apartments. Her lease is up soon and she hopes to move. She has been looking around to see what is available. When we started to reminisce the experiences just kept coming.
I realized that I could visualize all of the apartments that I had ever lived in. The first apartment was in Fredonia. We looked for quite a while before we settled on an upstairs apartment at the end of Risley Street. The big old house had very high ceilings. That reminded me of my grandparents' home where I grew up. There was an added bonus with this place. The couple who lived downstairs and owned the place had two young children. I earned extra money by babysitting for them. When I graduated from college, the family gave me a monogrammed pin to remember them by. It certainly was fortunate that I married a gentleman with the same initial that I had before I married.
That apartment had a huge kitchen, a nice-sized bathroom with new fixtures, a living room and two bedrooms. When I thought back to that I recalled that I had a walk-in closet although it was only a small square space. My mother had the larger bedroom but she had to use metal storage units for her clothes. We spent a couple years there. It was handy to school so that I was able to walk.
I was the chief cook because my mother got out of work later than I finished with school. On my way home one day, a student that I had in my class stopped me. He invited me to come into his house. I begged off saying I had to fix dinner for my mother. "You have a mother?" he replied. "I didn't know you had a mother!"
My next apartment was in Kenmore, N.Y. A college friend and I rented a furnished apartment in town. What a challenge it was to cross over some of the busiest streets in town to get to school. Our landlady let us raid her attic to put single beds in the one bedroom that we had. It was a small apartment, but the price was right. We paid under 100 dollars and that included utilities - not cable and not the phone.
Next I moved to Jamestown. My apartment there was upstairs from the grandparents of one of my students. The lady even told me I could use her wringer washer if I wanted to. I think maybe she thought I did not know how to use it, but she was wrong. It was quite similar to my grandmother's. The only thing I had to be careful of was that my wash was dry when she needed her basement. That place had a really tiny kitchen, but the sink unit was new. I baked many things in that apartment-sized stove.
That was the end of the apartment experiences. My next home was a mobile home on the farm. There really are not many apartments in the country.
When we bought Hickory Heights we were not ready to live here. We rented out the house quite inexpensively. That was our first mistake. The day the advertisement hit the classified I was inundated with calls. People were tripping over each other because the rent was so reasonable. The reason for the low price was there were not many amenities.
My husband and I took turns showing the house to prospective tenants. Often we passed on the road and had to compare notes. One man met me at the house. He greeted me saying, "I am a jack of all trades and master of all of them!" I knew immediately he was not the one.
In the end we rented the place to a man who said he was a minister and a carpenter. We figured that could not be a bad thing. Before we were ready to move in we gave him a couple months' notice so that they could find another place. They had school-age children to consider.
That was not to be our only rental unit. We purchased a small farm that connected to the main farm. My husband needed the pasture. He had rented the land for quite a while. People who lived in that house loved it. It was not fancy, but it was off on its own. People liked the solitude.
One time my husband let me do all of the advertising and showing of the place because he was busy on the farm. We had many calls, but some of them could be screened out. The place had a long private driveway, so it was not for everyone. A tenant had to have a plow or be able to make arrangements to have the driveway plowed.
Two ladies with children met me over there. We very carefully advertised the place as a single-family dwelling. They arrived while I was showing another couple through the house so they had to wait on the porch. I overheard them talking. "We could put the horses in the barn and then put them in the pasture," one of the ladies said. The other one answered that she and her children could live upstairs while the other lady and her children could live downstairs so they could share the rent.
Once I got a chance to talk to them I quickly squelched their plan. We were not renting out the barn or the pasture. It was just the house and it was a single family rental unit. They quickly said their good-byes and left.
One tenant we had took a couple rhubarb plants out of the bed by the house before they left. You just never know what tenants will do.
I am not sorry to no longer be a landlord. I do not miss being a tenant either, though I know my landlords were always sorry to see me go. Oh well, it made for some very interesting experiences.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.