A few days ago my brother sent us a Google Earth photo showing us what our old Teaneck, NJ, house at 260 Merrison Street looks like today. I think we all had the same reaction – the tree was blocking our view of really seeing the house clearly.
For me, however, I loved seeing that tree. My father loved that tree and the shade it provided.
When my father died in 1973, I was 26 years old and married. My siblings were 22, 19 and 14. My father had been raising us on his own since our mother died in 1961. Personally, he was my best friend.
On the day of his funeral, a limo drove us home from the cemetery. We arrived on our street only to see some town workers cutting the tree in front of our house to pieces. I became hysterical as I got out of the car and yelled at them to stop. It was bad enough we were coming home to a house without our father, but now my father’s tree was going to be gone, also.
Someone with me in the car, maybe Aunt Lois or Uncle Arthur, or maybe Aunt Mildred, went to ask the workers if they could continue another day, explaining that the owner of the house had died and a lot of people would soon be arriving and needing to park in the spaces on the street where their trucks were. Also, people would not want to hear the noise of their saws on this somber day.
They then understood what I was trying to say and came over to reassure me that they were not cutting the tree down. They explained that they were only pruning it and it would grow again. I now see that tree as a metaphor. We were so distraught and unsure how we would carry on without our father. However, just as the tree flourished, so did his 4 children.
In looking at this 2019 picture of our old house, it was also good to see my mother’s window box was still there, albeit, without flowers. I can still remember how much she wanted to have a window box and I can remember when she got it. Every spring we would go and pick out the prettiest geraniums we could find to plant in the box. My father continued that for as long as he had the house.
As you can see, the driveway was always very narrow and cars were bigger and wider than they are today. Who remembers when Cousin Harvey attempted to drive his rather wide car down the driveway back to the garage? Two of the wheels went over the edge causing a big commotion. Everyone was afraid the car would flip over. People ran over and it took a lot of muscle power to lift the wheels back up onto our driveway.