After our engagement in June 1978, our first order of business was setting out to buy a house. The pickins’ were slim in the tiny north Florida town of Live Oak, population, 6,000. I recall only seeing two, the one we bought & another in a neighborhood slightly out of town. The only thing I remember about that one was a huge crack in a wall down to the foundation. Yikes. Even I as a novice home buyer knew that was not good.
We settled on the one on Pearl Avenue that needed no work, was cute as a button, & plenty large enough for the two of us. Yellow walls, green shag carpet, harvest gold appliances, & brown formica cabinets—it was a truly seventies house!
I don’t remember much about the paperwork end of house buying, but I do remember my fiancé being very surprised & pleased when he found out I had $5,000 saved to use as a down payment on a house. He didn’t know he was marrying a “rich” woman! (It’s not that I was rich, it just means I was a good saver & living in Live Oak meant there were few opportunities to spend money). Our house payment came in at just under $200 a month which was a Godsend six years later when I was home full time & my husband was going to grad school & only working part-time.
During our years in that house we celebrated 13 anniversaries, hosted many dinners, birthday parties & overnight guests, brought two new babies through its’ front door & through careful spending & saving, I was able to be a full-time stay-at-home mom.
Although the house initially seemed perfect, we discovered all was not what it seemed. Because it had some weird quirks, like a wall hung toilet, dropped down ceiling, factory-like finishes, no ceiling lights, a wall that became detached & would move when the door slammed. We determined that it was a site built manufactured home. Not really a quality home. The A/C was iffy & the heat went out during a record Christmas cold in 1989. It was so cold all four of us slept on the floor huddled together in front of a space heater. Despite ice on the roads, we ventured out to church so we could get warm the next day! The church was filled with stranded motorist who were diverted into Live Oak when the interstate was closed. It wasn’t a very merry Christmas for many that year!
Thanks to the internet, we now have information on everything, which was not the case “back in the day.” Trips to the library & magazines like “Better Homes & Gardens” provided what little information I could get my hands on. Home improvement projects were few & far between. One of the things I did manage to DIY was a makeover for the hideous backsplash in my tiny kitchen. This was one of those factory finishes, a vinyl wall covering. I finally decided to try spackling the entire thing & painting it to cover it all up which worked! I wished I knew then, that formica can be painted. I hated those brown cabinets—so dreary! I did a lot of sewing projects for our home, balloon shades, a balloon table skirt & decorated nurseries for both the babies. I also, single-handedly, installed four sets of Closetmaid wire shelving systems in all of our closets. That was a big deal. I also ripped out the carpet in the bathroom after some guests made the toilet overflow—yuck! I successfully laid new vinyl flooring. It wasn’t a perfect job but it worked.