In his column on page 8, Charles Osgood writes “the home that’s fondest … is one we remember from childhood.” As a kid, I moved a lot—Dad was in construction, and we went where the work was—so “home” was a series of houses stretching from Boston to Topeka. But it didn’t take a second to recall my favorite home—and it was easily the worst place I ever lived.
The house—I use the term loosely—sat on the edge of a dusty Kansas town, the oldest building for miles: a crumbling heap of stones with a roof that shed slate shingles at unpredictable intervals. It was hot in the summer and teeth-chatteringly cold in the winter. Once struck off-kilter by a tornado, the place was full of windows that wouldn’t open and doors that just swung in the breeze. Snakes came out of cracks in the walls to sun themselves on the windowsills. The attic was practically a nature center, home to squirrels, raccoons, and once, memorably, a fox (how in the world did he get up there?). Built as a schoolhouse, it was never intended to be anyone’s home—but it was for me.
This was where Dad, no longer on night shifts, was always home for supper or a twilight game of catch; where Mom taught herself canning and baking and kept the kitchen warm and good-smelling. It was the destination for my friends after school and on weekends. After we moved again, the house sat empty. The roof collapsed, vandals broke windows, the place was in ruins. It was sad news. We lived there just three years, but it was still my home—shingles, snakes, and all.
In our cover story, on page 34, you’ll meet some people who share what home means for them. But it’s not just a story: It’s the start of a conversation between us. What does home mean to you? Drop us a line; send us photos. Tell us your home story.
Mine has a surprise ending: A few years ago, I found myself on business in Kansas, so I drove out to that dusty town, expecting to find an empty field where my home had been. Instead, I discovered the old stone heap standing proud with a new roof, gleaming windows, and a landscaped yard. An ambitious couple had restored the place and turned it into a bed-and-breakfast. I got a reservation for my old room. And as I signed in, the owners said those two words we all long to hear: “Welcome home.”
Stephen C. George
Editor-in-Chief, The Saturday Evening Post