It wasn’t much of a house. Wood Frame on concrete blocks. One bedroom. One bath. Kitchenette with a place for a washer.
It was our first home. Rented for $50 a month. Let me tell you, there were times we had to raid our super secret cash reserve fund to come up with the $50. Utilities were $10-12 a month. No cable.
I drove by it last week. It’s been repainted, they added fake shutters on the windows and a glass storm door. We had a screen door back in our day, when we lived there.
Now, there’s a fenced-in backyard. We never had that, either.
There’s a couple of plastic kids toys in the back yard. We never had that either.
We had been married for two years, living in an “efficiency apartment” on campus. It was one room, with one bath.
Even newlyweds need a bit more room at times. We thought we had outgrown our place in the married student village.
The house was two miles off campus, south of town, down at the bottom of a long hill. Perfect.
I rode a bicycle to and from the University. I prayed that it wouldn’t rain. Most of my prayers were answered. I still remember a few that weren’t. I arrived soaking wet, plopped down in a desk and dropped rainwater for an hour. I survived.
We got a puppy. I can’t remember his name right now.
A German Shepherd. At least that’s what the man said. We spoiled that dog rotten. Fed him scraps off our plate, gave him dog biscuits for doing good. Cuddled him on cold nights. Let him ride in the car with us, hanging his head out the window, catching the wind in his teeth.
In the back yard, I built a dog pen with net wire my father-in-law gave me. We had our first garden there also. We made it with a shovel, a hoe and a rake. We had tomatoes, cucumbers and a few string beans that summer.
In the front yard, we used to grill hamburgers and hot dogs on a home-made Bar-B-Que pit. My father-in-law helped me build it one weekend a long, long time ago. The puppy begged for our scraps and left-overs.
The dog never learned to retrieve a ball. It just went over his head, so to speak.
We watched television on a Sears 19 inch black and white portable. We sat there and watched football games and Monday night movies, holding hands like newly weds. The little dog there with us.
The dog learned how to get out of the pen. The house was on the highway that headed south. I came home one day to find him on the side of the road. The vet just shook his head.
Our first real loss.
That little dog is still out there, back in the corner of the yard, wrapped in his blanket, covered with some heavy rocks I got from a creek.
Those were the days my friend.
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