top of page

Building Our Current Home

It has been twenty-seven years since we moved to our current location! I find it hard to believe as it doesn’t seem that long ago when we lived on Shippensburg Road. Many events have happened here; many memories were made. I guess the reason for the seemingly fast passage of time is my getting older. Anyway, moving here was a process, not a decision made over the course of a few months.

My parents had always enjoyed redecorating rooms in the house. Mom used to borrow library books on home decorating. Most of the rooms back at the house on Shippensburg Road were redecorated at least once. The history of these changes span from changing the carport into a closed in porch somewhere between 1984 and 1985, and the final fixing up of Dad’s home office in 1993. Mom and Dad had redone the basement numerous times.

Fixing these rooms up satisfied for a while. Eventually they thought about adding another story to the house. The plan was to build a second story when I was thirteen. During this period of time, we would sleep in the finished basement as construction was taking place. Mom said that sleeping there would be an adventure. But some problems would remain, and it would have been quite costly so that idea was nixed.

Mom and Dad loved going to home shows. They would go to the Home-A-Rama in the Harrisburg area, as well as the Parade of Homes in the York area. The former was a home show that offered visitors the chance to go into new, upper scale housing. In my experience they were levels above what I thought we would ever live in. The show was made up of a group of newly built houses all clustered together. I remember that one of these houses had a Little Tykes Cozy Coupe Car. I had one when I was a young child, and the house containing a children’s toy made it seem more accessible to a family compared to a house only staged for adults.

The latter, was fancy houses scattered throughout York County. People that went to this show, followed directions of how to drive from house to house. For this one, though my parents had an interest in the houses, I had an interest in the roads that led to the houses. These shows allowed me a chance to go on new roads. On one trip we went on former PA 295 (now PA 297), and Raintree Road (a road with a cool sounding name.) On one of the trips, we went on PA 238. This road was Church Road, which made me think of the road our own church was on with the same name. The number two thirty-eight was interesting as it was similar to PA 234 which was a road very familiar to me during my childhood years (and still!)

One set of houses was in a development where many of the street names had to do with birds. I remember Blue Jay Drive.

Another interesting piece had to do with my unfamiliarity with the roads. I knew major roads such as U.S. 30, Market Street, Queen Street, etc. The routes always seemed to take the driver back to U.S. 30 at the end. I liked when the route was finished, and we seemed miraculously to appear somewhere I recognized. One time we were on Susquehanna Drive, and we appeared at U.S.30 by the McDonald’s on the corner. Another time the route dumped us on PA 74 that took us to U.S. 30 by the West Manchester Mall.

My parents also liked the Builder’s Show. It was held at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. They liked to look around at the latest items offered. The show would have plastic bags for its customers to fill with pamphlets and various giveaways from the booths including rulers and yardsticks. These items had advertising for their respective companies. Girl Scouts would normally have a booth selling their cookies, and we often bought some. Though the trip was long, they did have a full-sized house inside the premises towards the end of the exhibits, which was interesting to tour.

We also went to tour some houses that were up for sale in our area. One day we toured two houses. The first house is actually a block down the road from where we now live. I remember that they had a bedroom painted green, which worked for me. The harder information, was that I would have to switch school buses. Though I would be switching to bus nine, I thought I would feel self-conscious about riding a different bus. Students would not be expecting me to be on the bus. The second house was newer, and was in Arendtsville, not far from the Elementary School. The current owners of that house, I discovered had a cat. I remember entering a room, and seeing the cat dish set on the floor filled with cat food. Later I actually saw the cat. We also were scheduled to tour another house, not far from Shippensburg Road, though it never came to fruition. I believe if we did tour this house, it would also have been on a different day.

My parents explored building lots in 1993 in a new “development” near Arendtsville. There were a number of them. To my parents, the ones with driveways onto the side road were less desirable. The initial plan also called for a road to be built to connect between the roads, but it wasn’t ever built. Of the lots on the main road, one was a bit smaller. The one on the far right had the nicest view but the position of the driveway was bad because it would be hard to see to get out, and it was next to an orchard, meaning nearby spraying. There was a curve in the road which would make it hard to see traffic. The lot in the middle, also had a nice view of the mountains. Eventually, they decided that they were going to build a house, and bought the middle lot. It had a nice view, was over an acre, and was back from the curve and apple orchard. Years later they bought the lot on the far left too so no one could obscure our view of the heart-shaped pond. It also gave us more road frontage.

They contracted a builder to build the house. The house was staked on March 11th, 1994, with groundbreaking on April 18th. At the very beginning of the project, there were tall dirt piles that my brother, Dave, and I would play on. We would climb to the top of them. We weren’t new to dirt piles. At the north west edge of our old front yard, by the woods, was a dirt pile that Dave and I would play in. With this one, we would dig dirt out of it with sticks. The pile was smaller than the ground pile at the site of the building project, but perfect for playing in.

After they started building the house, we would check every day on the progress of the house. Good thing, as one window was framed into the wrong place. As the new house was being built, we had to also start thinking about getting the house on Shippensburg Road ready to sell. This included cleaning the large barn that Mom would clean out for a minimum of fifteen minutes at a time. Most of the stuff was in boxes and was hers. We also had the house appraised in June. I remember having to help get it cleaned up the day I received my first high school yearbook.

It was time to put the house up for sale. We made many trips away with our dog, while potential home buyers toured our house. It was really stressful for Mom to keep the house in perfect condition with kids and a dog. Dave and I kept doing our usual activities. At the end of July, we accepted a buyer, after having several offers on the house.

To complicate things further, Mom was offered a classroom job as a fifth grade teacher at Biglerville Elementary. She would start teaching full-time the same day we were moving. She wasn’t even able to help move! She always warned the builder that the worst possible move-in date of the entire year would be the beginning of school. It was very frustrating, as the builders hardly worked on the house at all during almost the entire month of August. They were waiting on the painter. Besides getting ready to move, Mom also needed to fix up her classroom. This was the first year of many that Dave and I would spend summer days in the classroom, helping Mom get prepared for the new school year. We enjoyed helping her. I remember her bulletin board with the message, “Glad to Sea You.”

Moving day was the first day of school. I remember riding bus four one last time the first day of eighth grade from the old house. The same day, I had an opportunity to get in our old pool one last time. After I was done in the pool, we went home to our current house. The first night, we ate pizza in the dining room that wasn’t put together yet. We shared it with the painter, who was still there. The builder allowed us to start moving in even though there were odds and ends to finish.

Moving everything between houses required many trips. Dad rented a U-Haul in Gettysburg. We made numerous trips back and forth. Dad had my uncle help move our things to our new house. Much of the moving happened during the weekend. During this period of time, we had the opportunity to eat plenty of ice cream from Shanks, outside of Bendersville. We also hired a mover to move the big, heavy, furniture. We had new furniture delivered for Dave’s and my bedrooms, the dining room, and the family room from Trostel’s Furniture Store.

It was hard adjusting to a new house for me. It’s not that it wasn’t nice, plus I was allowed to pick my new bedroom furniture. Dave and I also received our own bathroom to share, an upgrade from our old abode. I have autism, and some of the changes for me were hard. The school bus situation was one. Besides not riding on the same bus with my crush at the time, I also had to get used to a new bus with different people. How would they react to me now riding their bus? I felt self-conscience getting on the bus the first time. In a way I also was lucky. The bus I was supposed to ride, was known to have a real loser on it that I didn’t trust, my grade school “equal opportunity bully.” Though I never had trouble with bullies in elementary school, he was the one student I didn’t trust as we were entering high school (at that point high school included seventh and eighth grades.) I didn’t want to ride the bus with him. I received a break, when bus nine showed up to pick me up instead of bus twenty. Being oblivious to the situation, I figured that the school changed the assignment, and got on the bus. Later that day I learned that technically I was supposed to ride bus twenty, but since bus nine picked me up, I could continue to ride it. Both buses went by my house! so I could have easily ridden either. It was a matter of the school’s staff to decide. The bus driver said she wanted me on her bus. My old bus driver was her husband! She knew I would behave.

Another major change was loss of a dedicated play area. On Shippensburg Road we had a large play area in our finished basement. As we all know (but I didn’t at the time), new houses do not come with finished basements. All basements start out raw and unpleasant. To have a nice place to hang out, the room must be finished. With just building a new house, the basement wasn’t going to be finished. So, Dave and I played in our bedrooms there, which gave us less space than a whole basement would.

Another notable change was how we went to places. Trips on Wenksville Road, and Fairgrounds Road were non-existent, while trips through the Narrows became part of going to church. Other roads became more major players. We were located very close to our one set of grandparents and our schools. It was faster and easier to go places for the most part. Church and Mom’s beautician were actually a bit farther now.

Memories had to be formed in our new home which would take time. It seemed impossible when we first moved. Looking back, I can see them being formed. This doesn’t mean that we didn’t have good times at the beginning. It means that more memorable items (by sheer number) had happened at our old locale.

The first of the new memories being forged involved Super Mario World, for the Super Nintendo. I had a mirror in my bedroom that was positioned just such that the television reflected into the mirror. Dave and I would try to play the game by viewing it through the mirror. I remember playing Duplos and Tinker Toys in my room. When Dave went to bed for the night, I enjoyed talking to him for a little while before it was time to go myself. While I was getting ready to sleep, and thinking about various events of the time, I heard birds honking overhead. Apparently, we live in the middle of the route that geese fly, when they head south for the winter. By the beginning of 1995, Dad and I started Isshinryu Karate, with Dave starting a few months later. The famed Turtle Shows were started with Dave’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures. They started out based in a dojo, loosely imitating a karate class such as Dave and I were attending, but eventually expanded into an interesting world.

The Gameboy would also be a Christmas gift during our first Christmas at our current location. Dave suddenly said out loud before going to bed the night before Christmas, “I want a Gameboy,” and that was one of our gifts! Super Mario Land 2, and Donkey Kong 1994, would dominate our time for months to come. Dave brought his Gameboy to Mom’s classroom the second year we came into help during the summer.

Our parents had family gatherings when our house was new. I remember early on when Mom’s side of the family came up to a gathering to tour the house. People came who didn’t normally come to events. The Allwein Christmas party was held at our house that year, so the other side of the family could tour it too.

Autism can make change a difficult thing with moving being no exception. I did adjust, and I have forged numerous great memories here with many more to come. It’s so hard to believe that we’ve been here for twenty-seven years.

To view more Tom’s Tidbits go to URL


bottom of page