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Header: Jess Anderson in Madison Wisconsin
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2838 Stevens Street
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2828 Stevens Photo: 970917

It can't be so awful; I moved here in 1964 and I'm still in it! It has gone through several internal arrangements, but the basic structure is 1100 square feet on two floors (it looks like a one-story house, but there's an almost full-width dormer in back). All the rooms are small, but it has turned out to be much more room than one person needs. It's about right for two.

On the first floor an L-shaped living room to the left, a dining room to the right. Straight ahead a door leading to the stairway up. Behind the dining room the kitchen then a hallway with the back door and the stairs to the basement, then a tiny powder room and finally the study (where I'm presently sitting), which connects back to the living room. A full basement below and a detached two-car garage out back. Upstairs two bedrooms and a full bath.

By the way, until it was removed in in 2003, that maple tree completely dwarfed everything about the house; when I moved in, it was a stick five feet high and less than 2" thick. The crown grew to be 60' across and 80' high. It got some disease and I prevailed upon the city to cut it down and replace it before it crashed down on my building. Now there's a new stick out front, growing reasonably quickly, a purple mountain ash tree.

I rented this house for eight years before I bought it. When I moved in I thought the $130/month rent was rather high for a completely unfurnished house, but it never went up, either, so by the time I bought the place in 1972, the rent was actually on the low side. The purchase price was $19,700. It's worth about $275,000 now, well under the cost of comparable new space. However, it needed a major capital investment: a new bath, a new kitchen, and new garage and various other upgrades, a project I undertook in 2001, completed at long last in the spring of 2005. The result will be the subject of a future article here in due course.

When my boyfriend and I first moved in, it was a couple weeks before we got used to the quiet of this neighborhood. Having lived on a very busy artery for the seven preceding years, cars and trucks and ambulances roaring past at all hours, living on a very quiet street was really very different. Well, we still have ambulances, after a fashion: four blocks away is the town's largest hospital complex, and the two med-flight helicopters sometimes sound like they're going to land in my yard.

But there were pleasant surprises, too: the day after we moved in, the neighbor across the street showed up at the door with a lovely chocolate cake to welcome the new boys to the neighborhood. In fact, it's really the only place I've lived where "neighborhood" was defined in that way, by acquaintance or even friendship with all the people living on my block. It's basically a small-town impulse, but not as intrusive as I would have thought.

At any rate, it has been the locus of my medicine show for much more than half my life, and I have considerable affection for it. Eventually, I hope not too soon, I expect to be carried out in the proverbial pine box.

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