The apartment I can’t forget

Country Roads

A 50th anniversary slipped by earlier this year. I didn’t realize until after the anniversary slipped by that it was 50 years ago in February that I conducted an ultimately successful search for my first apartment.

I had left home the previous October, moving to a comfortable sleeping room which rented for $8 per week. The room was clean, warm, well-furnished and conveniently located but without cooking privileges. Being claustrophobic, the four walls seemed to close in a little more each day. After four months I knew I had to find something more spacious but I thought the $8 per week was already stretching my budget.

Pencil in hand, I attempted to work out a budget to determine what I really could afford. Calculating what I could save by cooking my own meals instead of eating at a restaurant at least twice a day and other factors, I arrived at a figure and began my search.

High hopes were quickly dashed when I discovered what kind of an apartment I could get for the amount I had budgeted. While I had grown up in modest dwellings, my mother was a fanatic about cleanliness and the nut had fallen close to the tree. The first place I looked at was a dark, dingy attic apartment which shared a grungy bathroom with two other apartments. I could almost see the cockroaches playing hide-and-seek with the mice. Others I inspected were nearly as bad. I envisioned living in a 12′ x 12′ sleeping room forever.

A co-worker aware of my search told me about another apartment for rent. It was a furnished upstairs apartment in a two-story wood frame house. I liked the place the minute I saw it and fell in love with it the minute I met the landlords, a delightful middle-aged couple who lived on the first floor. As they showed me the cozy apartment one question nagged at me: what’s the rent? Sixty-dollars a month, they responded when I asked. This was more than I thought I could afford but I knew it was a bargain.

I asked for a little time to think it over and quickly came to the conclusion that I would give up whatever was necessary to live there. It was a good decision.

Orville and Eleanor, the landlords, were kind and pleasant. Visiting with them was like spending time with an aunt and uncle.

When summer arrived Orville installed a window air conditioner. Orville’s job required considerable travel and when they were on the road I had use of their garage.

When Orville and Eleanor learned there were wedding bells in my future they encouraged me to move my bride into the apartment ̶ after the wedding, of course. When the bride-to-be agreed, the landlords went to work.

Orville built new cupboards in the kitchen and laid new carpet in the bedroom and living room. Eleanor sewed new drapes for the living room. Nicer living room furniture showed up one day. Orville enjoyed woodworking and surprised me with a set of beautiful handmade end tables, our wedding gift from him and Eleanor.

One evening, a few weeks after our wedding, Orville knocked on the door separating our apartment from theirs and asked if they could come up and visit. By the tone of his voice I knew something was wrong. He explained that he and Eleanor had purchased a business in another part of the state and had sold the house. The new owners wanted the upstairs apartment for their own use and my wife and I would have to move.

We looked at other apartments in town and found nothing in our price range that rivaled our current apartment so we bit the bullet and rented a house.

We kept in touch with Orville and Eleanor by exchanging Christmas cards and newsletters for many years. Both have since passed on.

I lived in that apartment for less than two years and my wife and I for only two months but good memories continue today. On occasion when I am in Webster City I drive down First Street just to see the house and reminisce.

Among the memories of that apartment are a wonderful couple whose names are Orville and Eleanor.

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