201 Grammercy Place: Making a House a Home Part I

Of all the places I have ever lived, my home remains 201 Grammercy Place in Atlantic City, New Jersey. 201 was one of four houses my grandmother owned. The house, now that I think of it, was much like its owner. The house was old enough to have history—though I never quite learned all of its past. Slick, grey stairs led up to the large, pale-pink and white guest house with a circular sun porch. Behind the doors, a foyer with stained glass windows and dark wood chairs with lion’s mouths adorning the arm rests greeted both guests and residents.

The house was full of contradictions.

The foyer faced the winding staircase, always shiny from polish; the dining room where guests devoured Gran’s cooking; and the living room—the room where my grandfather did most of his living. Dimly lit by a mini-crystal chandelier, the foyer hid, beneath rich, dark-paneled wood, the glass knob that led to the downstairs bathroom. The kitchen hid a staircase which led first to an area dubbed the pantry. The staircase was lined with dry goods as if to hide the presence of stairs leading upwards, directly to a wall. After the first time, the rice, sugar, flour, cookies, and other goodies effectively kept my interest from wondering too long at what was behind the wall—until now.

When I was 8 years old I was afraid of the ghost living in my grandmother’s attic.

There were lots of areas to be afraid of: the basement apartment, the cellar filled with objects I had never seen in use, the third floor with its phantomlike guests and their secret lives. But, few of these places, despite my worries of quietly judgmental ghosts were ever able to produce fear strong enough to keep my sister and me from loving Gran’s house. The house was filled with aromas: pine cleansers, sweet wood, frying fresh Blue fish, crispy bacon, Vick’s Salve and sulphur.

Certain smells will forever remind me of home.


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