Some days, it’s hard to believe that Dad’s been gone now for two and a half years; other days, it seems long ago. But today, it seems very close. Today we closed — sold the house we’ve had since 1966.
The sale has been coming, and got real within the last month. I’ve moved stuff here to Lake Charles in a UHaul; I’ve moved stuff to Natchitoches in a UHaul. I’ve moved stuff to Lake Charles in my truck and a flatbed trailer. I’ve moved stuff in my car.
I am now back in Lake Charles. I’ve made TWO trips to Egan today to move some of what’s left of our lives there. I met my sister there, and she’d almost finished loading her car. I quickly loaded mine, and we both drove to Lake Charles, unloaded into my storage unit, and returned to Egan. We loaded more. We went into Crowley for the closing. After that, we stopped to cancel the house insurance (had to have copy of the sales agreement). Then back to Egan, where we threw out more trash, loaded more into my car, took the television off of the wall and put it in my car, and left a small corner of the living room with things to move. Of course, that’s not all there is — that would be too easy. There’s a whole room that still has boxes, bags, and odds and ends. And there’s a grill in the garage too. I’ll make a trip tomorrow if the weather isn’t too bad (rain is predicted), along with a friend who can load the bags of quilts and soft things into her car. We’ll drive back to Lake Charles unload THAT into storage. Then on Saturday, I”ll meet Kay once more. I’ll probably rent a U-Haul trailer to make certain that I can get everything done.
Strange experience, this. It has been much harder for my sister than for me, for many reasons. First, I was 15 1/2 when we moved in; she was 8. It is really the house she grew up in. For me, it was the 7th house I’d lived in, and the 6th I remember living in. Dad worked for Sun Oil Company. Oil company families were generally called “oil field trash” by many, but I adapted a nicer term for us kids: “oil field brats.”
Oil field brats got used to moving when their dads got transferred. When we moved to Egan in 1957, I was 5 1/2, and it was my third transfer and my 5th house. Dad was working in Beaumont when I was born in 1959, and I don’t remember that house on Detroit Street; I was 6 months old when Dad got transferred to Humble, near Houston.
I remember living there, and we lived in two houses in the time there; I remember both. Dad was transferred again in 1955 — this time to Sunset, Louisiana. We actually moved ON my 4th birthday, on July 13, 1955. I remember my birthday present, a pedal car (a racing model), because I got to drive it up and down the driveway at my grandmother’s house in Beaumont.
In Sunset, I lived in an enclosed area with houses for employees — an oil-field camp — for the first time. We were in Sunset until January 1957.
Dad was transferred then to Egan, and we moved on January 21, 1957– and landed in a birthday party (Remember, Charles Watson? I can ALWAYS remember your birthday!). This camp had 2 rows of houses; the Sunset camp only had one. We moved into the first house on the end of the first row. That’s the house my sister came home to from the hospital just over a year later. By the time I was a teen, we had moved into another house, the end house on the second row, almost directly across from the first.
In 1966, Sun Oil broke the camp up because the lease on the land was over. Dad bought a lot just over .4 acre. Charles Watson’s dad bought one just across the road from ours. Both lots belonged to Mr. Cyprien Lacombe. Two of his grandsons were in our class in school (and a third joined us in 8th grade when we went to Iota to school). Mr. Watson bought the house they were living in, but Dad bought another one. Dad bought the land in September, and soon after I remember watching the house itself get moved — what excitement!
Once it was in place on the new lot, Dad and some of his friends added on to it. I remember helping to get the concrete form down, and mixing green into some of the concrete for two rooms and the garage. One room was the laundry; the other new room would hold our pool table for years, and tinted concrete seemed VERY neat.
We finally moved into the house on December 22, three days before Christmas. There were three bedrooms, one full bath, and a new half bath (shower only — for Mother and Dad).
In May 1969, I graduated from high school at Iota High School. Two weeks later, I moved into Bel Dorm at McNeese State University, and began my life-long connection with university life.
Though I only lived IN the house itself for about 3 1/2 years, it was always home. For many years (for most, in fact), there was no street address; that only came many years later. We had a post office box for mail (and still have the same box number). Egan didn’t have a water system, so we had a well and pump (both probably still work); once there was a water system, we got on that. And of course there was no sewer system, so we had a septic tank.
After all, Egan is small — maybe 500 people now, but not then, so “city” services are relatively new.
For Kay, this is home in a very different way than it is for me. This isn’t to say that I won’t miss it, that I haven’t shed some tears (and know I’ll shed more).
I was used to transferring and moving, but Kay never had that experience. She was born in Egan and grew up there. I felt lucky that I started and finished schooll in one place because I knew kids who changed schools a lot more often. For Kay, Egan IS home. For me, it was one of many I’d known.
But for me, “home” was more about family. And when I dream, “home” is either the Ware family farm near San Augustine, Texas, or my maternal grandmother’s home in Beaumont. I dream of those homes all the time. Occasionally it’s about Egan.
Right now I’m simply tired, having moved and driven hundreds of miles in the last few weeks. I can’t quite let myself unwind yet, knowing I have two more days of moving our stuff.
Giving the keys to the new owners will be strange. Locking the door the last time will be strange.
But it’s just a house, in the end. It’s time for new occupants, for new lives and experiences.
And right now, I”m just hoping that all our stuff will fit in the storage unit.
Tomorrow: Bambis come to Lake Charles.