Friday, September 30, 2016

Followup on September 7, 1966

Well, my mother found some photos from the construction and early days at our house in Bowie, MD, so I thought I'd share those and a few comments.

First, there's this shot of my dad, Vincent Fricker, standing basically where the master bedroom would soon be in our house.  As you can see, at this point, it was just the bare outline of the foundation (well, since the house is actually built on a slab, I'm not sure foundation is the right term, but you get the gist). 

In the background you can make out the beginnings of the rest of the development, which was called Idlewild, or as some people would say "the I-section."  Unlike some of his earlier developments, Levitt set up Belair at Bowie such that all the streets in a given section had names that began with the same letter... Idlewild Drive, Ivy Hill Lane, Irongate Lane, etc.  Given the similarity of the homes, at least you knew if you were in the right section by the first letter of the street names!

Edward Fricker, my dad's cousin, or Uncle Eddy as we knew him.  It was through him that my father first got the idea to move to the DC area to work for the Government Printing Office when the situation at the newspaper was looking bleak.

Note the can of Carling Black Label he's holding.  I suppose they were celebrating our soon-to-be-new-home... I wonder if open container laws were in effect back then?  And isn't it fascinating to see a couple of guys hanging around a construction site in jackets and ties?  I'm guessing they'd stopped by after work on day to check on the site, and back then that was standard dress for a linotype operator.  Different times.

 Here you can see the basic footprint of the house.  To the left in the front is the garage (a big deal to us, having not had a garage on Long Island).  Closer to the viewer is the narrow laundry room, and to the right is the rest of the ground floor, which consisted of a kitchen/dining room, living room, bathroom and two bedrooms. 

The view from the front yard of the house, looking down Ivy Hill Lane.  Standing in the same spot today, it's hard to imagine it ever looked like this.

The same view in 1968, with houses and landscaping all in place.  It's starting to look lived in, though it would be quite some time before the trees really filled in.  Over time the generous plantings in the yards began to be overwhelming and most home owners ended up taking out some or all of the original trees.

The ground floor taking shape.  The two car (!) garage is to the right, with the living room picture window just to the left of it, then the front door.  On the far left you can see the window to the master bedroom in front.  Note the pile of construction materials in the yard... the houses were put together like a giant model airplane kit, with all the pieces deposited on the lot for assembly.

And here it is with most of the framing in place.  This is looking from the opposite end from the previous picture, with the master bedroom closest, and the smallest bedroom (which was mine for many years) to the left.  Beyond that you can see the front porch awning, and then beyond that is the garage.  Two bedrooms on the ground floor, two on the second floor, and a bathroom on each floor (a big improvement over the house on Long Island where we had one bathroom for the 7 of us!).

Somehow we didn't seem to get any pictures of the house when we first moved in, or at least we haven't found any yet.  But to get an idea of what the finished product looked like, here's a copy of the ad for the Levitt Cape Cod.  This shows a bit earlier version of the house, but the basic design is the same.

By today's standards, a modest house no doubt.  But to us, and many other families in that place and time, they came to be wonderful homes.

For the curious, more info about Levitt, and specifically Belair at Bowie, can be found here:

And more photos are here

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