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Perspective: My century-old home

My house is around 100 years old and has sheltered me for over 20 years, longer than any other space I’ve inhabited.


I wonder who were its first caretakers in the Roaring Twenties? Did they dance in the living room to Armstrong and Ellington on the radio? Although not the first residents, I have discovered a couple who lived here I’m guessing in the 1960’s.


Paula Garrett

Years ago on the Fourth of July a red convertible pulled up out front. The man who came to the door handed me a small, faded photo of my house. He’d found it in a box of photos from an antique shop. On the back was my address, the names of the owners and their dog, Scooter, standing at the end of the walkway in the image.


This two-inch square snapshot is a window into the home’s past, as are the various artifacts that were left behind. A garden full of horseradish with lots of tools to dig it up. Concrete garden figures including a reclining deer on the front step, a seagull in the backyard, and a broken duck under the deck — all of which I’ve left as I found them out of respect, and because they preceded me and seemed to belong here.


Before I moved in all those years ago, I’d been living in a coastal city. I’ve always gravitated to sand and seascapes, but northern Illinois kept drawing me back. The seagull in the backyard seemed like a sign. My beach house on the prairie.


I’m Paula Garrett and that’s my perspective.

Paula Garrett is a transplanted Southerner and a former WNIJ Blues host. She's passionate about music, travel, research, open water swimming and film.