Always a House For Me by Katie Dorst Lamb, Neighbor

My family moved into our first Eastmoreland house in 1983. My dad had finished grad school and was starting his first big job in Portland. My parents were in their late 20’s and had heard about Eastmoreland from a family friend. My mom came to tour the neighborhood and immediately knew it was the right place. They bought a sweet, little house across the street from Duniway at 7805 SE 35th. With just 2 bedrooms and 1200 square feet, they knew they would likely outgrow it with two young children, but this was the kind of house you bought to get into a wonderful neighborhood as a young family.
Living across the street from Duniway was a child’s dream. The neighbor kids and I romped and played from our homes to the school and back. I will never forget breaking my arm jumping off of the slide at Duniway and being escorted home by a wonderful pack of the best rag-tag gang of friends a girl could ask for.
A few years later, my parents were doing better financially and did what they had planned to when they bought our “first” house; they stayed in the neighborhood and moved to a larger home. 3404 SE Henry is the house that I still have dreams about. It was a beautiful old home that was dated, but charming and perfect for us. My dad worked hard to afford it and my mom worked hard to update it. She tore out wallpaper and linoleum flooring, repainted and loved on that house. She made it ours.
I missed my friends on the old block, but we quickly made new best mates and got to work making forts in the Rhododendrons, sneaking into people’s backyards just for the fun of it, playing kick the can until dark and shooting ourselves down the steep hill on Henry while biking handsfree. What a bunch of rascals we were.
Unfortunately, while the house was working out, my parents were not. They divorced when I was heading into middle school, and so it was time to move again. My mother scrambled to sell our Henry St. house and find another home in the ‘hood for us. And she did! We moved about a block away onto Tolman. After a couple of years, my mom fell in love with a house down the street, but on the same block. We moved again!
As I reflect on these moves, I realize that there was always just the right home for us. There was always a home that fit our needs, whether budget or size. There was room to move up and down the real estate ladder in our neighborhood. The idea of knocking down our first home and building a larger one or adding a giant second story didn’t occur to my parents. I can’t say it occurred to anyone until fairly recently. Instead, people moved around the neighborhood or stayed put. But families always knew there would be a great house for them if and when their needs changed. We didn’t tear things down, we were stewards of our homes until it was time to move on and let another family love and care for them.
A longtime neighbor said to me the other day “When did we become a throw away society? When did things become so disposable?” This person had seen families come and go, grow and move, stay and age. Understanding how people could fall in love with this place and also want to tear it down was a shocking thought to her. When she said this it really struck me. When did we decide that tearing down these homes was better than passing them to the next caretaker and finding another wonderful home here?
About 6 years ago my husband drove through Eastmoreland and fell in love, quickly pronouncing it the “perfect place for us.” He was right and we began our house hunt. Once again, Eastmoreland had just the right house for us and our two children. Once again there was just the right home for me. There was just the right home for my family. Someday, when my family has lived in it and loved it, I know it will be just the right home for another family.
What a privilege it is to live here and tend this amazing place and these wonderful homes. I am grateful.