2026 McGraw by
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Leaving Manhattan recently on a wintry Friday afternoon we hit rush hour and my husband turned off the highway to avoid the traffic.   We were taking a detour through local Bronx streets when I realized we were about to pass my old neighborhood,  and we decided to drive down my old street.

I’ve written before about 2026 McGraw Ave,  the house I grew up in,  and that I last saw a dozen years ago when I went to a wonderful neighborhood reunion.   (For more about my childhood home see  ReunionParkchester, Celebrate Me Home,   Magnolia, The Story of a Garden,  Mr Bucco and the Ginger Cat,  and Fluffy and the Alligator Shoes)

But it had been heart wrenching then to see the changes to the house since my parents sold it in the 1970s,  and now I was sorry to see there had been even more changes.

Our property had spanned two lots and we had a large garden with a lovely stone birdbath,  a garage and tool shed,  a charming grape arbor that bore fruit,  and on each side of our front door a beautiful magnolia tree –  but now all those were gone.

And that recent winter day seeing the house again,  now painted a garish yellow,   I regretted that we’d made that detour.

But maybe Thomas Wolfe had it wrong,  because lying in bed that night I saw the house once more  –  it was painted a warm brown,  it was early spring,  and our magnolia trees were in full bloom.   And I went home again.

– Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Bronx New York
Characterizations: been there, moving, well written


  1. This one was almost like a poem. Very lyrical, sweet, endearing.

  2. pattyv says:

    Dana, I write poetry so much, it’s hard for me not to. I chose you as my first reading for the prompt, and I had chills. So much like my own, we both dream of our childhood homes. They meant so much to us. I envisioned your garden with the 2 magnolia trees and the stone birdbath, and I too, want to go back to YOUR home. We were very blessed.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    I think it becomes increasingly difficult to visit our old haunts, Dana. You read my story last year, but it took place almost 30 years ago. I tried one more time, in 2003, when I was again in Detroit, but it was February and I wore my mink coat that trip. I drove into Detroit, got a bit lost, honestly felt uncomfortable with my surroundings (and very our of place), gave up my search and just drove on to my cousins in the suburbs.

    But so nice that you could revisit your happy home, magnolias blooming and all, in your imagination that evening. That is what we must hold dear and keep close – those wonderful memories.

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    I also am in the habit of driving by my old houses whenever I am in the area(s), and so far they all seem to be about the same or improved. Not like your sad story. But your sweet memories persist, and that is what is really important.

  5. Dave Ventre says:

    This prompt sort of gnaws at me, because I have often dwelt far too much on my past. I do love that your memories of a place you hold dear are so vivid and accessible.

    I was last on my street in Bayonne during the Great Recession. The block was empty, many of the homes seemed run-down and neglected. One, right next to my childhood home, was vacant, boarded up. A few had been replaced by new. Saddest to me was the grass growing out of all the cracks in the sidewalk. It was easy to imagine that everyone had moved away and left Silver St. to die alone.

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    I have had similar experiences about my first home in Detroit. I can see on Google maps that there are many empty lots and boarded up houses there now. Can’t even drive around there because it’s totally unsafe. So it has to live in my head, frozen in time.

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