I met Wilx when painting the garage door. It was the summer of 1980. He lived across the street and came over as I slopped paint. I do remember Abe DeVries, who lived a block over, instructing me on how to use long up and down strokes.
I lived at 2351 Rosewood from 1980-1984, my high school years and one disastrous year at Calvin College. I did move back in the summer of 1987 to live with my dad and brothers before my last year at Central Michigan University. He sold the house in 1990, I think.
Wilx lives in the GR burbs now. He took his daughter to a swim meet Saturay at Ottawa Hills High School, which is up the street from 2351 and Wilx's old house. He snapped this picture and sent it to me, and I stared at it for a long time.
I used to walk across the street to Wilx's house and watch the strange music video channel. He had cable, a remarkable luxury, with a box where you pushed the channel buttons. It enthralled us for hours.
When I look at the photo, I think of my late mother, who made many a Sunday meal for friends and family.
I distinctly remember coming home from a road trip to Ann Arbor in March 1986. I was hung over and grumpy. My mother was on the floor and looking at the newspaper classified ads in the TV room, the one right behind the garage. I asked her what she was doing. "Nothing," she said, but I could tell something wasn't right.
She moved out a week later. I'm sure she saw the apartment ad in that paper.
I think of putting the basketball hoop on the roof above the garage. It was the spring of 1981, and I had an early-morning paper route. When I got done I gently shot jumpers in the first rays of sunlight, but I didn't want to make too much noise and wake people up.
Where Wilx stood to take the photo is the end of the street, and we had some massive hockey games after blizzards and snowstorms. Mark "Little Man" Hendricks would come over, we'd recruit other kids from the hood and we'd spend snow days recreating the Leafs vs. Canadiens rivalries from days gone by.
I remember walking from the house to Jolly Roger Ice Arena for practices and late-night Calvin intramural games.
It's a big house, with six rooms upstairs. I got my own room, the one on the corner above the garage. My own room! Putting in a cassette tape of Who's Next and blasting it as loud as possible from the cheap boom box, that's what I remember most.
I left in the fall of 1984 for a job in the Grand Canyon National Park. I came back six months later and lived in the basement for a few months. I used the ping pong table for a privacy wall and slept on a cot. And it was fine with me.
A few years back I walked through the old hood and behind the house. I swear I saw a face in one of the back windows, the face of my late brother Greg. I took one more look and hurried away.
Wilx says the memories are good. I agree, for the most part. And going back is never a bad thing.
Powerful stuff, just from looking at a picture.