Can’t shake generational values

Housing decisions are often nudged along by several factors. In my grandparent’s case, it was a health scare and the desire to lessen their home maintenance chores. Since they owned a large acreage on the edge of town, they were able to construct a new property without moving very far. They parceled off and sold their 1930s, white two-story, four-bedroom home and turned the builders loose on a plot looking over corn fields.

They had entered the autumn of their lives on solid financial standing. They both drew upon reliable pensions and had accumulated a decent amount of real estate. You would never know it. If the VW hatchback needed repair, it would be the talk of our summer visit. Lengthy discussions ensued every time the sale of a lake lot (they owned perhaps a dozen) was in the mix. He plotted a pheasant hunt in S Dakota; she was a regular visitor to her ancestral home in the Lake District.

When they built their retirement home in 1977 it was done with careful precision to make the room size fit around their furnishings with not an inch to spare. When you pushed out your chair from the cherrywood dining table you either hit the wall divider with the kitchen or the casement windows looking out to the deck. Grandma’s bedroom ended up a bit tight as she decided to sneak in a small writing table which was always stacked with books, journals, articles, and correspondence.

The split entry design was selected as it is the best style to maximize finished square footage. Daylight windows kept the lower level bright and liveable. There was a contingency plan to convert the ground floor into an apartment- “If we ever need to take in a renter.” Almost fifty years had passed since the beginnings of the Great Depression and yet financial risk still played front and center in their minds.

It seems laughable now. And that’s the point I want to make. Some events are so significant they impact a generation of people for their whole lives. And the depression did that. And whenever an analysis is in play, a quick rundown of contextual analysis of the actors involved is indespensible.