We never had outdoor lights

"Chicago Blvd. Parsonage"
The parsonage

When I was growing up in the 1950’s lights were rare in my neighborhood.  I remember the first lights I saw.  My family moved into the huge house above in 1952 after a church fight in which my father, a pastor, and 300 parishioners left St. Marks Presbyterian church to organize Central Congregational Church.  During the time before a new church building was found and purchased the church met at Crosman School on Sundays while all other activities were held at the house above.  We lived on the second floor, church activities were on the first floor and in the very large recreation room in the basement.  My sister and I shared the bedroom marked with the red X.  On the side was a window (marked Z) that we could look out of at night and see a house in the next block outlined in multicolored lights.  We called it the gingerbread house and thought it was beautiful and unique. 

I don’t remember ever riding by when the lights were on.  We lived on the west side of Detroit while one set of grandparents lived on the east side.  Driving from one house to the other we would be coming home after dark and I remember looking at people’s lit Christmas trees through the windows, I don’t remember any outdoor lights.  In later years that changed.  I think my west side grandparents eventually had lights and some plastic lit up carolers out in front.  My youngest son always wanted to put lights outside our house but since we lived at the end of a dead end road in the middle of the Manistee National Forest at the time, it never happened. Thinking back, I should have let him do it.

14 thoughts on “We never had outdoor lights

  1. As a child we didn't have lights, a luxury we couldn't afford. My son loved putting up lights and we decorated with lights until he moved out. Christmas wreaths go on the doors and windows of my home, no lights.

  2. I like wreaths too. My mother used to put them on the door. She even made a few. Sometimes we have one.

  3. Is the house still there? If so, is it occupied?
    Wondering if current occupants know the rich history.

  4. J, the house is still there. after we moved there was a fire in the attic, which had a large room across the front and small servants rooms along the hall leading up to it so the roof is lower than it was. In the last 10 it stood empty and was vandalized. Someone bought it with grand plans and a local historian contacted them with the history, I sent a few photos to them. Then the house was empty again, being vandalized and for sale for $42,000. I just looked on google maps, it's still there. Looks empty. It was a great house but anyone who could afford to fix it up and live there probably wouldn't. It's between 14th and Lasalle, if you are familiar with Detroit.

  5. i loved those windows! they were just like the windows in the nursery of the darling children (that's their name, not my description of their charmin' personalities!) when peter pan came to visit them. i waited for YEARS for peter pan since we were the only people i knew with casement windows! whew…

  6. me too. great room all together. you remember that house?
    there weren't a lot of outdoor lights in those days were there?

  7. i do remember that house. when you said we used to call it "the gingerbread house" i remembered it all. that chicago house was so amazing to me. so BIG. servants quarters upstairs. remember that thing in the kitchen where you could ring the buzzer in the rooms and it would point to where the person needed something so the servants would know where to go? i think we tried that once… not expecting a response… but ma made it clear that was not for our family. and that ballroom? how many kids get to live in a house where you can go exploring inside your house!

  8. If I have time the next time I get to Detroit I may go past the house.
    That neighborhood had some very beautiful homes.

  9. there are some beautiful homes there. it's a shame so many well built and beautiful homes of all kinds have gone to pieces in Detroit.

  10. Palmer Woods, Indian Village and other pockets still have some homes in excellent condition, but I have heard that the taxes in Detroit were very high for those properties.

  11. What a shame that your old home is derelict or just vacant.

    Lights weren’t big when I was growing up either – cynically it’s probably because of all the cheap Asian imports that we can get now.

    I grew addicted to them in Europe at Xmas time when all those little sparkly lights enlivened the winter darkness. I’ve bought some new solar-powered lights & have gone slightly nuts so we know have sparklies for the littlies to see.

    1. We still don’t do outside lights but We do have more around the living room now. I haven’t seen the solar powered ones. I’ll have to look after Christmas.

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