Where Jeff Has Lived:
A Google Maps Tour

This is the first place I remember living: the little gold(?) house in the picture. It's on 21st Street in Dunbar. We lived there until I was in fifth grade, and I have nothing but fond memories of it.

Behind us, across the alley, lived a kid named Doug, and the two of us got into all sorts of excellent trouble together. Bill from WV lived halfway down the block. I've known him since before kindergarten, literally, and we've been friends for decades.

The house has fallen into disrepair, which bothers my Dad a great deal. Even though we moved from there when Nixon was president, he gets agitated every time he drives past.  "There's a gutter hanging off one side of that dump!" he's informed me, on more than one occasion. 

Needless to say, it was neat and well-maintained when he was in charge. I mean, seriously.

Halfway through fifth grade we moved to a bigger house, on 17th Street, located (coincidentally?) straight across the street from my grandparents: my mother's folks.

Since it was in a different school district, I was afraid I'd have to switch from Dunbar Elementary to Mound School. And the thought of that made my sphincter wink.... I didn't know any of those kids; it was like a foreign country over there. But my mother took care of the problem, and I was allowed to finish out my grade school career where I'd started it.

The house wasn't very nice when we moved in. The former owners kept a passel of ludicrous high-stepping pipe-cleaner dogs (afghan hounds?), and the place smelled like the inside of a bladder. Both bathrooms were also straight-up nasty, and the hot water tank was in the kitchen, beside the fridge. TF?

But it had good bones, and my parents whipped it into shape. They even built a garage out back, and I mean built it. With their hands.

Steve lived across the railroad tracks, just a few yards away. We became good friends, and remain so. And now we live near each other in Pennsylvania. What are the odds?

And speaking of the railroad tracks... Can you see how close they are to the house? Man, those coal trains would come blasting through at all hours, and flat-out rock your world. But after a month, or so, we got used to it and didn't really notice them anymore. It's possible to adjust to almost anything, I think.

I love that house. I had a happy childhood, and it's where a lot of it happened.

When I was 23, or thereabouts, I threw in the towel on my half-assed attempts at college and stoopid jobs, and moved to Greensboro, NC. I was hired to work at a grocery store there, making almost twice the minimum wage: I'd hit the freakin' lottery!

A West Virginia co-worker and I moved into an apartment at the address shown, inside a complex called Sedgefield Gardens. It's your standard '70s ('60s?) apartment complex, but located in a nice residential area.

Peaches Records was nearby, and I eventually got a job there and weaned myself off the big Food Lion money. At Peaches I met both Brad and Eugene, who are semi-frequent commenters at TheWVSR. Brad and I have kept an almost constant email conversation going, for many years.  He's a good friend.

I lived at Sedgefield Gardens the whole time I was in North Carolina, in three different apartments. My roommate and I rented a two-bedroom until he got homesick, suddenly married his girlfriend, and moved her to Greensboro. I transferred my meager belongings to a one-bedroom and lived alone, until my brother joined me a year or so later. Then it was back to a two-bedroom, but not the original one. Got that? Yeah, it doesn't really matter if you didn't.

I think the rent was somewhere in the neighborhood of $335, so it wasn't exactly posh. But it wasn't bad, and wasn't loaded with derelicts, either. It suited me just fine.

By the fourth year at Peaches things weren't quite the same. Brad was already gone, and our group of work-friends was starting to splinter. It just wasn't as much fun as it had once been.

I was dating a woman who was about to graduate from college, after dropping out for a few years, and half-assing it like I did. We were both about 27, and she wanted to live in a big city. And since I had no real ties to Greensboro, and wasn't loving my job anymore, we decided to roll the dice and move to Atlanta.

We rented an apartment in this house, sight-unseen. Somehow we found it through word-of-mouth, and told the landlord we'd take it, over the phone.

The house is busted-up into three apartments. The bottom floor is one unit, and upstairs is two. We had the smallest one, upstairs on the front.

Yeah, and the neighborhood was (and probably is) fairly rough. The Clermont Hotel is a few yards away, and is basically a home for bums. Drunks and drug addicts prowled the streets at night, and there was a continuous threat of mayhem in the air. My car was broken-into twice while I lived there, and one time some son of a bitch took a basket of my clean laundry. Laundry!

However, we were within walking distance of Tortillas, the Masquerade (where I saw dozens of shows, including Iggy Pop, the Buzzcocks, Porno for Pyros, Mudhoney, Primus, etc. etc.), and Manuel's Tavern -- one of the best bars in America.

In the apartment on the rear of the house lived several members of Arrested Development, including Dionne Farris. All were nice and friendly, and we got along well. They told me they were musicians, and I thought, "Yeah, you and everyone else in this town..."

Then I saw them accepting their Grammy Awards on TV a couple years later, and the floor of my ass nearly fell out.

Toney and started seeing each other, after the Greensboro romance went swirling down the ol' poop-catcher, and eventually had the conversation that begins, "You know, we're spending all our time together anyway…  It seems a shame to pay rent twice."

So we shacked-up in the heart of Little Five Points. L5P is Atlanta's bohemian neighborhood, full of funky shops, filthy rock clubs, tattoo parlors, and a biker bar called the Yacht Club. You can see our building in the background.
It's fairly gothic and Addams Family-like.

The apartment itself was incredible.
It was HUGE, with hardwood floors throughout. The master bedroom had French doors that opened onto the living room, and there was a great sun room off the front of the place, which we filled with plants and comfy chairs. And since the building dated to the 1920s, it was loaded with charm.

And the location!
Within yards of our front door was a kick-ass Cuban restaurant, a Jamaican place, Fellini's Pizza (iconic), Wax 'n' Facts (one of the best and snobbiest indie record stores in America), the Star Bar (located in an old bank, with a vault full of Elvis memorabilia), The Variety Playhouse (where I saw many, many shows, including a Television reunion), and The Point (my favorite place to see bands in Atlanta).  

However… The noise level in that neighborhood was like nothing I've ever experienced before or since. I got used to those trains in Dunbar, but never The Point closing at 2 am. People hollering, fist fights, scream-puking, exploding glass, car alarms, scalpings... It was amazingly loud, and I had bags under my eyes the whole time we lived there.

Also, we had a hobo problem.
They'd often lie with their backs against our front door to stay warm, and piss themselves to sleep.

One morning Toney was going to take a bag of trash to the dumpster, and some guy was sleeping on our back porch in nothing but tighty-whities. I went out there with a baseball bat, and told him to move along. He got up, looking confused, and started down the steps. He found a pair of pants, put them on, kept walking and found a shirt, etc. etc.

By the time he reached the parking lot he was fully dressed. Including, I think, cuff links.

Another morning I went outside and noticed a set of legs sticking out from under our steps.
Upon further review, I saw that the legs were attached to a Rastafarian gentleman, enjoying a "nap."

It never stopped.
The insanity was continuous. Every apartment in that building was burglarized while we were there, three or four times in some cases, except ours. Common sense told us it was only a matter of time. When I got home from work every evening, I just knew the place would be ransacked. It never happened, but it's the sort of thing that can detract from a person's quality of life. Ya know? 

We made it two years and had a reasonably good time, I guess.
Now? I'd have a full nervous breakdown by the end of Day Two. If not sooner.

Toney and I were married in late 1993, and bought this house in the 'burbs, near Stone Mountain. The one on the right. You can't really tell in the photograph, but it's painted the color of Pepto-Bismol. Yeah, and we bought it anyway.

It was our first house, and the process of obtaining the mortgage was excruciating and stressful. We weren't making much money, and there was a real chance (probably in our heads only) that the loan would be denied. It seemed to take forever, and required about one thousand signatures.

Finally, of course, we were approved, and moved-in after returning from a honeymoon trip to San Francisco.

It was a really nice place. The previous owners had it built to their specifications, and were promptly divorced (the new house curse?!). So we benefitted greatly from their heartache. They did all the heavy lifting, and it was, as realtors like to say, "better than new."

It was far from our jobs though, and we both drove at least an hour each way. And we ended up spending a lot of our free time in-town, just like we always had. So, the location wasn't exactly logical. Sometimes it just felt like a fancy place to sleep.

But Toney loved it, and still does. She says it's the best place we've ever lived, and I can't really argue. It would've been better if it had been inside I-285. We couldn't have afforded it, of course, but you know what I mean...

Almost exactly three years after we became Atlanta homeowners, I was offered a promotion at my job, and a chance to work at the home office in Burbank, CA. I'd barely been west of Tennessee at that point, and it all seemed exceedingly glamorous and exciting.

Plus, I'd be well-positioned to become a director, and later a VP. It was an easy decision, really, and with some sadness we put our dream home on the market.

We rented an apartment in Santa Clarita for six months, and looked at roughly a million houses for sale. The prices were crazy, and I started to worry we wouldn't be able to find something decent and affordable.

We looked at this place, and instantly wrote it off. There were big bushes around the perimeter of the property, and the owner was some kind of creepy hermit. The interior was like passing through a portal to 1969, and we just rolled our eyes with exasperation.

But as we continued to strike out in our hunt for a home, the hermit house became intriguing to me. We could rip out those bushes, take down the London blitz blackout curtains, and the terrible furniture would be long-gone... Maybe it had good bones, like the second Dunbar house?

And I was right on the money, for once. We did a lot of work to that place, and it ended up being very nice indeed. It was located on a cul-de-sac, in a neighborhood just lousy with kids. So that part was perfect.

And the neighbors were great, as well. We had block parties a few times every year, and it was a lot of fun. We had our own little self-contained community out there, and everyone seemed semi-normal and decent.

However... It's in the desert, and breathtakingly hot in the summer. Some days it would reach 110 degrees, and I thought we must surely be in hell.

And everybody's garage was filled, filled!, with black widow spiders. There was nothing that could be done (not really), and everyone just seemed to accept it. Needless to say, I never reached that level of comfort. Call me neurotic, but I don't much enjoy living amongst thousands of creeping agents of instant-death.

After a couple of years I realized I hated living in California. The job was very corporate, and involved lots of meetings and conference calls. Money was always an issue, despite the fact I was making more than ever. And the constant hot weather got old, very quickly.

Toney was running a daycare business out of our home, and that sucked so bad it almost seems impossible. Our house was covered in boogers and snot, manufactured by non-family members.

So when we were offered a chance to move back to the east coast, we jumped at it. People laughed at me for willingly going from southern California to Scranton, but I couldn't wait to get out of that place. I'm sure it's great if you're a millionaire, but for the average person... not so much.

We bought that house for $150K, sold it for $190K, and here's roughly what the new owners sold it for, a couple years later. Sweet Maria!  If we'd only hung on for three more years...

Google hasn't visited our Pennsylvania neighborhood yet, and I wouldn't be foolish enough to post a picture of our current home anyway. Oh, I've seen Nightline...  So, you're sorta up to date.  Those are the places I've lived, so far. For what it's worth... Pass the beer nuts.

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