Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Old Photos and Tax Returns

I live a tragic irony. I absolutely love old photos, but I am a terrible picture-taker. It's not that I take bad photos; as a communication major, I had some education in shot composition, lighting, and so forth. My problem is, I let moments pass by too easily without taking the time to document them. I am too short-sighted to make the effort to tell people to stand still while I go grab the camera out of the drawer, point and shoot. The iPhone helps a bit, because now I have at least a mediocre camera with me at all times.

This shortcoming of mine causes me to value the shutterbug in others all-the-more. I am immensely grateful to Lacy Tuxhorn of Chesapeake for this particular photo, because it is a photo of my house taken shortly after it was finished in 1964:

I don't think Lacy actually took this photo, but she graciously sent it to me in response to a letter I mailed to her after tracking her down through real-estate records. I really love this, because the little bit of land visible here has changed dramatically since 1964. The original owner built an addition in 1971 that added a living room with a big bay window, and a sunroom that totally enclosed the front porch. The trees visible in the distance are right about where I-64 is now, and Sterling Drive is years away. My next-door neighbor hasn't built his house yet; the open field to the right is now obscured by tall pine trees, thick brush and a brick ranch. The roughly three-quarters of an acre that was the back yard was subdivided in 1996 and now hosts three homes on Sir Michael Dr.

Lacy is the daughter of Kenneth "Paul" and Mildred Charlesworth. Mr. Charlesworth, a World War II veteran and employee at the Ford Motor Plant on Indian River Road purchased this lot in 1962 and began building his dream house. I never knew the Charlesworths, but when I found an instruction booklet for the 1966 Federal Tax Return in the attic during the home inspection (with the address label still attached), I knew I had found the names of the people who first called this place "home" ... and I had to learn more about them, the house, and the neighborhood. That address label on that tax return booklet was the spark that led to everything you will read on this blog.

One day, when I stand in heaven, I hope to hand this moth-eaten booklet to Mr. & Mrs. Charlesworth, have a good laugh, and share with them how much my family enjoyed living in the house they built.

1 comment:

  1. I love it. I enjoyed finding forgotten "treasures" left by past owners of our old house too. We found a 1950s picture of Roy Rogers under the nasty old carpet we pulled up in an upstairs bedroom. Who would have thought that a tax return booklet would be so treasured in the future. How wonderful.