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A Year Ago Today: Burstein House Sold

Last year on this day, my brothers and I, serving as executors of Mom's estate, sold the house that the three of us had grown up in.

I don't really have much more to say about that, but I felt it ought to be noted. Selling my childhood home was not as traumatic as it might have been, I suppose. The only thing that still preys on my mind is the question of where to stay when we visit New York City, and as I've noted before, we have many friends who are apparently delighted to host us.

My younger brother Josh has actually been to the house since the new family (friends of his) moved in, and he says that they've redone a lot. I'm not surprised; I remember as I was growing up that there was a lot of plaster peeling off the walls and ceilings, and that the doors seemed old and creaky. In many ways, after they bought the house, my parents kludged together various repairs so it would be livable.

So perhaps it wasn't the nicest house in the world, but I loved it. And I know that I have no need for it anymore, and haven't for a while. Yet, some part of me wishes that the house had been preserved in its previous condition, to be used as the Michael A. Burstein Historic Site when the time is right.

Moving on....
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never fear. "when the time is right," as you say, your fan club can always buy it back. :)

ernest hemingway's childhood home in suburban chicago had been converted to a "three-flat" in the years after they left. it's only just now (well, over the last ten years) being restored to the way it was when he lived there.
We've been to the Theodore Roosevelt Historic Site in New York City, where Roosevelt was supposedly born. But as they explain to you on the tour, the family had sold the house and it had been torn down and replaced with another building. The group that wanted to establish the site had to tear down that building and replace it with a facsimile.
I know how you feel!

We were lucky in that the people who bought my childhood home then became friends of my parents, so we all got to see what they did with it. And I was amazed at what a beautiful house I'd grown up in -- once 35 years of clutter was removed!

(This was during the tight, tight housing market in NJ. My parents were getting ready to put in on the market when they happened to call a plumber to fix a toilet. My dad said, "We're getting ready to sell it" and the plumber said, "Can I call my wife to come over and see it now?" I always thought that was kind of cool -- and I'm sure my dad loved not having to deal with real estate agents!)
I have similar feeling with regards to my parents' house as well. They're in the process of emptying it out before putting it up for sale.

I would have preferred to turn it into the Israel "John" Segal Memorial "Instead of Paying the Bar Tab" Dirty Frank's Museum. During the time my grandfather owned and ran "Dirty Frank's," several local and national artists gave my grandfather and my mother various original works as gifts (not really to pay off their bar tabs), mostly before they became big names. One guy had a piece on "permanent" display at the Philadelphia MoA for decades. He painted six others in a series, and we own one of them. Another artist now has her own museum outright, and the African American Women's Museum periodically wants to borrow some of her work from us. Yet a third painted portraits of PA Governors and some well regarded landscapes; he gave me a painting of Independence Hall.

The walls do have wallpaper, but you'd never know it from the waist-to-ceiling coverage of stuff my mom received over the years. Of course, not every artist became famous, and not every piece becomes a masterwork. Each room in the museum would have a theme, and I would dedicate one whole room to these less than memorable endeavors. I'd call the room "Leftover Miscellaneous Crap" and use a piece I affectionately call "Used Phlegm" as the highlight item.
We can always make an exact replica, like they did at Walden Pond with Thoreau's cabin.
Guess it really doesn't matter how nice or not it is. you have all of these memories associated with it and that can be tough.
I know how you feel; it's hard to know that you can't just walk back in there when you want, and that even if you could, it would be full of someone else's life. Our house in Princeton still feels like that to me.

December 2016

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