(To my family: If I have posted this before, read it anyway.)
This is the address of the house my grandparents Estes lived in from 1942, until Papaw’s death in 1959. The picture is of Papaw Estes in the very small front yard of the house. I’m not sure how he got in there because there was no gate I ever knew of as a child, when I was most familiar with the house. The house was three story brick, with a concrete front porch, railing, and uprights. It had a front door off the porch but also had a front gate and a walkway to the right side of the picture, and a side door off that walkway. There was a small back yard with a narrow garden plot on three sides, and my Papaw Estes had roses planted in the plots on all three sides. There was also a cellar entrance in the back yard. It was on the east side of Colerain just a few doors north of the main intersection of Colerain and Hopple, that section known as Camp Washington.
When John Will and Lillie Emmett Estes moved there in 1942, they lived on the second floor I believe, and Uncle Mose and Aunt Helen had rooms on the third floor. The house was at that time owned by Mr. George Ernst, whom the family ended up calling Uncle George Ernst. His wife had died in early 1942, and, my grandparents moved in with him so my grandmother could be his housekeeper. I don’t know how she came to know about him or that he needed a housekeeper, but nonetheless this is the story I was always told, which was corroborated by my brother Jack. At this time Papaw would have had a job outside the home, and Helen would have been working at Crosley or Wright’s. I know she worked at Wright’s during much of the war, making airplane engines. As for what Uncle Mose was doing, well, I won’t even venture a guess.
By the time I came to remember the house, Mr. Ernst was dead and Mamaw and Papaw lived on the first floor, with Aunt Helen and Uncle Estil on the second, and I guess Mose and Etta Mae and their family on the third floor. After Mamaw died in 1953, Mose and Etta May moved to the first floor, and Papaw took the front bedroom on the third floor.
All the floors were reach by two landing staircases. There was red embossed tile half way up the wall as the stairs ascended to the second floor. I remember touching it each time I went up the stairs. Each of the first two floors had a small closet spaced toilet, with a full bath on the third floor. There was also a large laundry area on the third floor. When we went to visit, Della and I slept on a small bed in that area.
The third floor was where Aunt Helen stored her clothes and kept the costumes for the Briarhoppers. I loved to go up there and stand and look at her clothes and shoes and to touch them almost reverently, hoping someday I would get to have such clothes and costumes. Della, Johnny, Sheila, and I would play along the walkway never going outside the wrought iron gate (I can still hear it opening and clanging shut in my mind) and out in the back yard. Occasionally, when we would be visiting, an old man in an overcoat, with his hat pulled down, would come to the gate and call my name. Oddly enough, I would go to him, once I knew he was my Grandpa Moore. He had found out my dad was in town, and had come to see him. He never went inside the house. They always stood by the front gate and talked, then my grandpa left.
Aunt Helene (she had added the “e” by this time) did fittings and made the costumes in her second floor kitchen. As far as I know, she never cooked there. Actually the idea of Aunt Helene cooking is far funnier than that of me cooking. A lot of coffee was drunk, and cigarettes smoked, in that kitchen, however. Her living room, at the front of the house, was always dark, and she had a dark blue sofa and easy chairs, and a glass top coffee table with sides that opened out. She also had a television, which she would allow us to watch, but only if we sat quite still and didn’t jump around, etc. She was the same way when she worked on my hair, Della’s and Sheila’s. We had to sit still or she’d whack us in the head with the brush.
Of course, you may be curious as to how my grandparents got to stay in this house after Mr. Ernst died in 1949. Actually, he left it to my grandmother, in her name alone. He also left her at least two rings, which she then left one to my mother. and one to Jack. Although I was never told this, I am quite sure that Uncle George Ernst left the house to her in her name only because he knew that if he left it to Papaw Papaw could get drunk and sell it or use it for his own purposes and she would be homeless, so to speak. When I asked Jack if he thought Mr. Ernst was in love with Mamaw he did not hesitate to answer yes. Was she in love with him? Who knows. But he saw to it that she had a home for the years left to her.
Of the two rings spoken of above, the one left to Jack has a most interesting history. Mamaw died in January of 1953 and Jack came back from Korea in June of that same year. He took the ring, which was a man’s ring, and had the setting altered and the diamond remounted into the ring that became Jeannie’s engagement ring, which she wears to this day. The other ring my mother wore until she died and I have it now. I do not wear it because it needs to have the prongs redone so the diamond will stay in it. A task for the near future.
And so there you have the history of my grandparents house as I knew it. After Papaw died in 1959, the house was sold and the proceeds divided up among the children. Aunt Helene remained on the second floor, renting it and the third, for several more years, leaving when she married Uncle Gil Schumer in 1970. The house was torn down about 5 or so years ago, and there is a big Wendy’s and its parking lot on the corner which stretches across the ground on which the house sat.
More memories have come to mind, but this is all ready too long.