Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Family Home

Home, Sweet Home
 'Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home; A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there, Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere. Home, home, sweet, sweet home! There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!
 -----John Howard Payne (1791-1852)

Although in my entire life I have lived in several places, there is really only one place that I call "home".  The year was 1964.  I remember the first time that I went to the Farralone house with my brothers.  We were living in a rental on Roscoe, but my father had purchased a house up the hill.  We decided to walk up the hill and visit our new home.  After climbing the hill, we were thirsty. So it made sense to us to get some water out of the hose.

Farralone Family House

We were clueless at the time, that our family was about the become the original "Hughleys" - a 1998 TV show about a black family moving to "West Hills, a predominately white neighborhood within the San Fernando Valley". Only this was 1964, and the part of West Hills where we moved was still called Canoga Park.

Back to the water hose.  So there we still in what would be our front yard after the landscaping got put in, when a loud booming voice yelled "You guys get out of here..."!  That booming voice belong to actor Mark Russell who was about the find out that his new neighbors were black.  "This is my daddy's house, I shot back." Mind you, I had lived in an interracial neighborhood in Westbury, New York.

Park Avenue Elementary School; Westbury, New York March  1965.  In December 1965, I would move to the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California and attend a school at which my brothers and I would be the sole black kids.  It was culture shock to say the least, because I had never gone to a school that wasn't integrated before that.BTW, Ms. Bennett was my favorite teacher.  A group of kids would meet up with her each day and walk to school together.  Today they call that a walking school bus

Yet I had not experienced the things I was going to experience while living in Canoga Park.  There someone called me a [N-word] for the first time in my life, and I had no idea what they were talking about. Soon, I would find out and thus the next kid to call me that got a punch in the mouth. Fifty years later, someone in my family continues to live in that house.  That's why I call it a family home.
My mother's family home was in Houston, Texas on Barbee Street.  According to my grandmother,   Sixty or more years later, someone from the family continues to live there too.

Barbee Street House; Green Building was the
garage with an apartment on top. 
Last time I was visiting there, I found a photograph of the original owner, a woman named Aline Cover.

Aline Cover is of the former owner of the house.
My grandparents purchased the house from 
Mrs. Cover 
in March of 1951. The Roulande Studio was operated by
Sonia and Kaye Marvins.

Ironically, my mother's family was one of the first or maybe even the first black family to move into that house.  The 1940 United States Census shows that the neighborhood was completely white.

1940 U.S. Census show the race of the persons
living on Barbee Street at the time.

Below are photos of some of the other Gibson/Washington family homes.

Another family home in Lockhart, Texas (That's my mom, Thelma, in front)

House on Buck where my Mom lived before the family moved to Barbee Street

Grand Mother Eliza's Childhood home on Ruthven
in Houston, Texas.  This was a Freedman Town
established after the Civil War.

Family Home in Rock Sound, Eleuthera, Bahamas Island

Savannah Sound, Eleuthera, Bahamas Island
What was left of the house that my Grandfather RCG
was born in 1893.
I believe my grandfather's sister Euleta was about 20 years old
in this photo.  In the background is what I believe is the family home
referenced in the photograph above!!!

"3021"   I wonder whose house this is.  Cornelia and Clarence Washington lived at 3605 Hare Street, Houston, Texas so I do not believe it's their house.

Related Links:

Information about Roulande Studio Photographer Kaye Marvins: