Losing a Piece of Childhood
The House on Denney Road
When I was a child, the window looking out to our back yard revealed an acre of lawn, a Jonathan apple tree laden with fruit, an orchard with walnut and filbert trees, and a wood of evergreens with an entrance leading to Fanno Creek. There my brother and I would swing on Tarzan vines and fish for crawdads with bacon and a string.
Wild primroses on a picket fence bordered the lawn on one side. I would rise up in the morning, run out into the yard, sprint to the fence to sniff the roses, then race across the lawn and, without missing a step, leap up and pluck a big red apple from the Jonathan tree. From there, I would sprint into the woods to see what new adventures my brother had cooked up for us.
The other day I looked on the Internet for that childhood home - 9845 Denney Road, Beaverton, Oregon. I had stories to write, and I needed to know it was there. Stories about apple picking in the orchard, lolling under the giant 100-year-old oak tree in the yard. Helping my brother hide critters from the woods in his desk drawers – mice, baby rabbits, baby ducks. And helping him skitter back to the woods to return them when Mother saw them.
When I entered the address of our family home, I found a photo of an empty lot.
I thought, “That’s not it.” I proceeded to spend an hour searching addresses, changing street numbers, trying to locate our favorite house.
I knew I might not correctly remember the street # so I entered number after number. After all, it had been 50 years since we lived there. Nothing looked the same.
I kept coming back to the empty lot and began to panic. That house was where my cat, Tiger, had eight batches of kittens until Mother gave her to a farmer down the road. How I loved that cat. That house was where I got my first piano and learned to play. The house where we spent endless hours making up plays and performing for an audience of one – our mother. Where I had my first kiss under the mistletoe. There was no way that house was not there.
Finally, I happened upon a photo of a house changed in every way. The house was no longer pristine white but a dull shade of blue-grey. The grounds had been dug up all around. Bullbozers were stationed nearby.
I ran to get the one photo I owned of the Denney Road house when we lived in it. I wanted to compare it to the homely and somewhat run down place I was seeing on the web. My heart sank as I realized it was indeed the house on Denney Road. I then frantically searched for the photo of the empty lot again. By then, I knew our house was gone.
Choking back tears, I looked for news items that might give me a clue to what happened. I found this:
Denney Gardens will be built...about 2017. For now, volunteers have been working to clean up the vegetative corridor surrounding what will eventually become house lots. There was a run-down old house on the property which Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue used for drills to train new recruits. The house was removed in 2014 during a Burn to Learn program run by the fire department.