once upon another time, i lived there

A recent snail-mail delivery brought this from my brother, John:

7246 St. Augustine Rd, Jax, FL

I was still recovering from this “WOW” from the day before and wasn’t sure my heart could take another WOW so soon. I took a big breath then called Johnny to see if the paper was still in his recycle and could he salvage the remaining page(s) of the article? Too late, but the Internet saved the day, allowing me to read the history behind this house of great interest to me.

My connection to the house’s history goes back to the late 1960s. Paul and I had been married a couple years, living in Wheaton, Illinois. My brother and his wife had moved to Jacksonville, Florida, from our Wheaton homestead, and we were visiting them. On a drive to take their babysitter home, Paul and Johnny noticed a for-sale sign in front of this house. Long story short, we bought it the next day.

The first music we faced on our return home was to tell our parents (both sets) we were moving to Florida. Well, if I’m going to tell this story accurately, Paul returned home to break the news while I continued my travels down to Antigua for a singing gig. But I won’t get bogged down with details, because the crux of the matter was we did this crazy thing and now had to quit our jobs, sell our newly renovated house in Wheaton, pack our possessions and dog, and head south. Crazy!

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I have only a few pictures of our years at 7246 St. Augustine Rd, and since we had our first baby while we lived there, most of them focus on him. Who could blame us?

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Along with searching for the Times-Union story about our house, I found the Realtor’s listing and made some screenshots to match some of my now-even-more-treasured photos of our life there.

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Then Johnny and Paul stored their toys in our two-bay garage.

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Now it’s a storage complex for multiple toys.

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Then an unfinished paneled fireplace.

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Now beautifully tiled and mantled. But note the arched alcove? We shopped and shopped to find just the right pedestals for those (there’s also one on the opposing side). So we weren’t complete decorating fools.

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Taken from the other side of the fireplace, you can see the then carpeted stairs, now backed with Spanish tiles.

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Then my little pumpkin enjoyed screen time from the carpeted floor, warmed by a radiator, while his unoccupied playpen blocked the French doors to the sunroom.

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Now the living room is remarkably unadorned by anything child or heat related.

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Go ahead and laugh. I’m laughing! “Antiquing” reclaimed furniture was a thing back then.

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Now our bedroom looks like this.

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But look how cute. Daddy going on a business trip and wants to take our boy. I used that sunporch for a dressing table (antiqued, of course), and the latest owner turned it into a master bath.

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Then I gave baby Bentley a bath in the sink under that kitchen window.

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Now it’s hard to even imagine such a thing.

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The most memorable thing about this room was the large live pine tree that grew over in that corner and up through the ceiling. No surprise it isn’t still there. It was a pain in the patootie, attracting bugs and debris. Were we supposed to water it? Who knows? Would love to have kept a picture of that tree, but if our baby wasn’t in the foreground, it didn’t stand a chance.

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