It’s not every day someone comes up to you and says, “We want you to buy our house.” But, back in 1958, those exact words were said to George and me by a lady at church. She then added something like: “Now that you are engaged to be married, you will be needing a place to live. We need the money you would give us for our house, so we can finish the new house we are building. And, we will be leaving some of our furniture in the house for you to use until you can get your own.” She was right about the fact that George and I were engaged, and when we got married, we would need a place to live. But, buy their house? Before we got married? Use their furniture for awhile? It seemed just a little odd. But, I knew this woman, and we trusted her completely. She also added that they would need for us to pay them for it by the middle of the next month, which would be November, while our wedding wasn’t going to take place until two months later in January of 1959.
When I went back to work the next day, a person from Sunbury Savings and Loan came in the office to file their real estate documents. I jokingly said to him that George and I had a chance to buy a house, and we weren’t even married yet. I expected him to laugh, or say something like, “Are you crazy?” But, instead, he said, “I’m sure we could help you with that. Come to our office Saturday morning, and we’ll see if we can work out a way to help you get that house. We may be able to loan you the money.” The money? How much money are we talking about? I need to remind you that this happened back in 1958. That year the prices for land and homes, as well as people’s salaries, were nothing like today. The price for the house was $7,000. It was on a quarter of an acre lot and had three bedrooms, one bath, living room, dining room, kitchen, utility room and a front porch. There was a one-car garage in the side yard, and it also had four apple trees, one large pine tree, and three big elm trees spread over the rest of the property.
With nothing to lose, we decided to check out said company, and after discussing the terms, we thought it just might work out. But, there was one situation that had to be addressed. It just so happens that I had just turned 22 and George was still 20. In order to sign a mortgage, a person has to be at least 21 years of age. And so, with that piece of information, we assumed the transaction wouldn’t be going through. However, they suggested that as an unmarried woman, we could put the house in my name alone. And that way, I, alone, would be the only one to have to sign the mortgage. Back in the 50s, you never heard much about a single 22-year-old woman buying a house and taking out a mortgage by herself. But, soon after that morning, on Nov. 15, 1958, Sunbury S&L and I owned a house, and the deed and mortgage were in my name alone.
The first 10 years of living in our house passed quickly, and we had a “mortgage burning” party, since the mortgage was then paid off. During those years, George built another room onto the house, as well as a double-car garage and a screened in patio. He also tore out 1/2 of the kitchen wall to make a counter for the benefit of having more sitting space to eat. Being near an elementary school, it was a good place to be raising our two daughters.
Like us, day by day now, our house is getting older. It needs a facelift, as well as some fresh paint. The hinges are creaking and the floor boards are squeaking. It makes me think of that No. 1 song from Your Hit Parade days in the 50s called “This Old House.” It is aging just as we are at this time of our lives. And, to bring us up to date on the purchase from so long ago, we now have a Survivorship Deed made out so that our home is now in both of our names. And, this one house has been our only home for every day of our entire 60 years of marriage.
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.