Little House in the Subdivision: Celebrating 23 Years in the Pulte Trailer Park


We’re celebrating, sort of, 23 years in our house today. It’s remarkable for a couple of reasons. One, earlier in our lives we moved an average of every two to three years chasing one job or another or picking up and leaving Central New York for Arizona to earn our graduate degrees, then to Atlanta when CNN called and to Michigan when CNN called 8 years later and told us to move up there to head the bureau. Second, and most significantly, it’s a home built by Pulte in 1978 and it remains standing. The fact that there are no walls perpendicular to the ceilings or floors just adds to its “charm.” It also means we needed to have every door in the place custom built. In fact when the folks from our favorite door company come over to measure they generally leave with deep marks on their heads from scratching them so aggressively.

When we moved into the place in 1992 we didn’t have much choice. To make sure our son would be admitted to the autistic program at the nearby elementary school we had a one-square mile area from which to choose a home.
We looked at several houses within that territory including one that apparently included a copulating couple in one of the guest bedrooms, since that’s what we discovered when the real estate agent invited us to open the door to “check out the closets.” The couple paid us no mind and we appreciated the closet space. But the house just wasn’t right for us.
One day, while I was about to shoot an interview in Cleveland with the CEO of a healthcare provide my pager went off with my home number. I excused myself and called my wife who apologized for the interruption but she’d found a winner that had all the features we required. When I finished the call I sheepishly turned to the CEO and deadpanned, “oh, sorry. We found a house.” He was a decent guy and warmly congratulated us but he was more interested in my watch, a gold Citizen my kids had bought me for Father’s Day a year before. He had thought it was a Rolex and even laughed when I told him I intended to fly to Mexico soon to pick one up from a vendor in Nogales.
My son and daughter were born in Decatur, GA, but grew up in our two-story Pulte colonial enclosure. We had the wooden swing set and rope ladder out back along with a sandbox I built. The two willows were both thankfully struck by lightening and had to be removed. The previous owners had installed a chain link dog run the size of a Manhattan studio apartment. We turned it into a vegetable garden and harvested peas, beans, mini pumpkins, squash and radishes that looked like they suffered from leprosy. Truth is, I only hung onto the dog run because the first day we moved in a neighbor came up to me right away and asked if we were going to have a dog. If not, could we please get rid of the ugly dog run which he could see from his patio. That immediately told me I needed to keep it, and I did, for 10 years. The neighbor moved.
Part of the basement still has the 1970’s-era faux oak paneling and a drop ceiling that drops a little every year.

It’s not the biggest, nor the smallest house but it’s comfortable and the thought of moving all the stuff we’ve accumulated over the years isn’t very appetizing.
We talk of retirement but to where? From our house it’s 10 minutes to the nearest lake, 25 minutes to the neighborhood ski hill, five minutes from the township hiking trail and moments from our favorite stores and restaurants.
I don’t know how much longer we’ll live here, but if it turns out it’s forever, I’m going to seriously doubt Pulte built it.

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