November 11, 2010

Our Levitt house, is a very, very, very fine house...

click on photo to enlarge

By Marilyn Monsrud Frese
Class of 1963

I remember the warm and cozy fireplace in our Levitt house. I believe it was in 1948 that we purchased a new Levitt ranch, but we had to rent a cape (see photo above) while the ranches were being completed. The capes were put up first because of the extra time it took to install the fireplaces in each ranch house, and speed was a necessity as so many people needed to get into a house asap. Rentals were arranged for those who purchased ranches and had to wait. No Levittown house stood empty for more than a week or two.

In the ranch house, the front room kitchen (which was larger than the capes' kitchens) is separated from the living room by an unattached standing brick wall with the fireplace opening on both sides, so it's enjoyed from both rooms at the same time. You could circle the brick wall from either side into the other room. There was a movable cabinet that swung open like a room divider at one end of the fireplace wall. The divider had shelving/display cases, great for books, and a built in closet to hang up the coats of your visitors. You could swing the whole unit away from the wall to create more privacy to either room, or swing it open to create a large opening between the rooms, great for when you had a party, which many of the neighbors did back in the early years.

No one had money to go out much, so home parties took place on many blocks each Saturday night. And the kids usually got some friends to sleep over because there weren't many older kids to babysit back then. We would hover on the top step to listen to what our parents were saying and watch them dance (always music and dancing) and my mom would always bring up plates full of snacks for us. No one ever told us we had to get to sleep. It was great fun.

That little brick fireplace brought such a sense of warmth and hominess to houses which were sparsely furnished with many hand-me-downs. It truly made the house feel like a home. I still live in the Levitt ranch, only now it's pushed out back and up. We still use the fireplace although the heated floors have been gone for decades. I am forever a Levittown girl!

I'll light the fire, while you place the flowers
In the vase that you bought today.
Staring at the fire for hours and hours,
While I listen to you play your love songs
All night long for me, only for me.

Our house, is a very, very, very fine house.
With two cats in the yard,
Life used to be so hard,
Now everything is easy 'cause of you.

Come to me now, and rest your head for just five minutes,
Everything is done.
Such a cozy room, the windows are illuminated
By the evening sunshine through them,
Fiery gems for you, only for you.

Our house, is a very, very, very fine house.
With two cats in the yard,
Life used to be so hard,
Now everything is easy 'cause of you.


Anonymous said...

Nicely done, Marilyn. I'm missing my ranch house now - it was such a comfortable home for 15 years. Pat McDonald

Renee said...

RenLove this description. I lived in a cape but my cousing lived in a ranch so I had a great experience with both homes. I remember my cousin and I sitting on the stairs while the grown ups played cards in the kitchen. We would see how far down the stairs we could go without getting caught because we were supposed to be sleeping.
Fun times those were!!

Larry Bory said...

I remember Christmas particularly. But when the tree was up it had to go in front of the fireplace so we couldn't use it.. I think we had a freezer in front of the kitchen side. My dad stored bottles in it in the summer.