When toddlers attack

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mortgaging the manor

You bought WHERE?!
I just got off the phone with the title company -- they're sending a notary by tomorrow night with the loan paperwork so we can mortgage the house my grandmother bought the year I was born for less than we paid for our used Ford Escape a few years back. 

My grandparents married in 1926.  My grandfather was doing well -- he started in vaudeville doing an act called "Nathan's Country Store" that supposedly was the first game show ever -- and by the time they married was working for the studios.  They had architects draw up an old-California style house, with tile floors and a courtyard in the middle, and were ready to buy six acres at the corner of Beverly Glen and Sunset Boulevard. 
Every family has a story about an opportunity, either taken or squandered.  Ours was thus:  even if you're not familiar with Los Angeles, you know the area of Beverly Glen and Sunset -- today, it's Bel Air, home to obscenely huge mansions, and 80-year-old dowagers with faces as tight and shiny as the skin on an eggplant.  Back then, there were no 215-bedroom Spelling mansions, no Nancy Reagan (wait, or was she around then?), just beanfields and speculation.  And that was where my grandparents considered building their home.
Family legend says that my great-grandmother, born in Lithuania and driven out by pogroms, famine, or god-knows-what,  talked my grandfather out of it: "No, Manny, don't do it... the cossacks will come riding down Sunset and you'll be forced off your land and THEN where will you be?"  Okay, I made that last part up.  But they didn't buy and they didn't build and by 1933, my grandfather's foul temper had gotten him blackballed from working on any movie of consequence.  My grandmother went behind his back and over the hills to the still-rural San Fernando Valley, bought half a city block, and that's where they moved.  That's where my mom grew up and that's where my grandparents stayed.  So today, instead of being REALLY *#)@*(  RICH, I'm mortgaging the dinky two-bedroom house on the corner of that block in a valley now famous for being the porn capital of the world, smack next to the Ventura Freeway, the one my grandmother bought in the mid-sixties to add to her not-so-extensive holdings.  My parents sold off the original house in the 1980s.

I don't much like home additions -- houses are houses, with their own personality, and adding a master suite and an extra bedroom to this one seems sort of like suddenly giving triple-D implants to a 4'11" woman (does triple-D even exist? I don't know. I have no experience with such things.).  There's been a rash of enormous houses built on teeny-tiny lots in our neighborhood, hulking things that swallow every inch of available space on their lots and loom over the street, menacing surrounding houses and passers-by.  Even with the addition of two bedrooms and one and a half baths, ours won't be that bad -- we're sticking to one storey and will still have enough room in back for a large patio and a vegetable garden. 
As nervous as mortgaging ye olde family manor makes me, I can't help thinking how grateful I am at my grandmother's stubborness... and deviousness.  Thanks, Nana.

Oh, and we still have the plans for that old-California rancho in the garage:

The plan...

The reality.  I really should roll up that hose...


  1. this is classic. at least there is something left for you to mortgage. don't make me throw a pity party! :-)

    signing your life away is SO MUCH FUN! Ok, bad humor. GOOD LUCK!