Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday Nights In January 1982

 De of "Sipping Champagne" who often comments here inspired this post with her post today:

In January 1982 I was going to the State University and  living in this house in Albany, New York. 
It looks just the same now as it did then. I don't know who owns it, but I doubt that much has been done to it--though I assume that they fixed the problems we were having with the bathroom ceiling.

We rented the downstairs half of the house for $330 a month, split between the three of us. No utilities included. Oil heat, $150 a tankful to keep the house warm in the cold Albany winters. That was a lot of money, even split 3 ways. The house had a large front room and a small middle room,so in the winter time we would hang plastic insulation sheeting between the two rooms and move all the furniture into the smaller middle room. We didn't have a lot of living room furniture anyway. There was a nice rocker recliner that belonged to the house which we all loved and a couch and a TV.

It was the early days of cable and we loved being able to get "M*A*S*H" (still in prime time then) several times a day from different stations and there was a terrific Boston station that showed Bugs Bunny cartoons and other such. And long before Dora and Spongebob, Nickelodeon was just beginning and we were all hooked on a British sci fi kids show called "The Tomorrow People"

Three small bedrooms. Mine had a partly slanted ceiling because of the staircase leading upstairs. One year the upstairs was rented by a nice guy and his son--both LARGE guys wearing workboots, and you'd hear them on those stairs!

I had a few pieces of second hand furniture--a bureau and desk that had been painted an ugly yellow and that we repainted a nice chocolaty brown. I didn't have a bed frame, but my mattress and box spring worked well on a board raised on cinder blocks. At night we'd turn the heat just high enough to keep the pipes from freezing and snuggle under our blankets. I owned an electric blanket--and lots of thermal underwear.

None of us had a car. I didn't even drive back then. But between the University buses and the very good city buses, I could get anywhere I needed to. It was a long walk to Price Chopper, CVS and the laundry, but we managed, even in the snowy weather. And it was right down the street from a charming branch of the Albany Public Library, then housed in this old Victorian house with quirky little rooms,creaky wooden floors and lots of treasures including a complete set of Winston Graham's "Poldark" novels, still one of my favorite historical fiction series.

We didn't have a lot of money for groceries, which was a pity, since we had a lovely eat in kitchen, complete with a back storage room pantry. With Beth's copy of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, I learned to make some of the recipes I'm still cooking today--Sweet and Sour Chicken for one. I don't remember baking frequently, but I'm sure I made challah there occasionally. And since we had vegetarian friends, I learned to make eggplant Parmesan to the point where I no longer even like the stuff!

For a while Beth's (now late lamented)older  sister would come down to Albany on Thursdays to take an evening course, and we'd use her car while she was in class. Not to party, which was weird for Albany students. Then and now it was a party school, which is one of the major reasons we moved off campus--none of us were into that.  No, we went out to load up on groceries, especially since with the car we could reach several outlying stores.

We'd come home and feast and watch the NBC evening lineup.

"Fame", which we all loved because we all loved to sing--and I was a dance freak then too, just as I am now. And "Hill Street Blues".God, do I miss "Hill Street". Are they ever going to put the rest of it on DVD, or at least on Netflix?

We'd put out the trash and my roommates would go to bed a lot earlier than I would. I never took morning classes when I could help it, and would stay up till 1 or 2 studying or reading. Or writing letters. The Man was in school in NYC and I was there and this was long, long before cell phones.
Long before cheap long distance landlines for that matter--Sprint arrived when I was in graduate school, and you had to dial a toll free number and put in your access codes, just to use it.
He was not the world's best correspondent in terms of frequency. But when I'd get his letter they would be pages and pages long in a beautiful tiny handwriting, with wonderfully calligraphy on the envelopes. I still have them somewhere......

And now it's 2010. And I sit at my computer longing for snowy winters and for those two friends that I loved--and still love so well, and for a day when I was young and had very little money but when love was much more romantic and when the possibilities were endless.

But it's time to roll.
So:"Let's be careful out there"...........


Anonymous said...

The first house Tony and I lived in together looked a lot like the one on Kent street, but we lived upstairs and the landlady lived downstairs. She loved him and ignored me, and it turned out not to be the best place for newlyweds, so we didn't stay there long.

What I remember of cable when it was expanding was MTV, back when it was just videos. Under hypnosis, I could probably still recall a lot of them scene by scene.

The Library Lady said...

The landlord was a sleazy used car salesman who was reluctant to do any work on the place. My 2 last housemates there (Beth and my other housemate graduated and I stayed for grad school)moved out early because they were so pissed about his reluctance to fix the problem with our bathroom ceiling.

He fixed it just before I moved out. Guess he figured he better if he wanted to rent it again.

It was a good place to live though. Two blocks from the bus and the neighborhood was safe--even though my dad thought if they were renting to students it wouldn't be.

WifeMomTeacher said...

Oh I remember it well. You sanitized the part about ALL of us not partying. I am not sober today for nothing!
Thanks for the memories.

The Library Lady said...

You did not party at the house, whether you remember it or not.

Sure, there was alcohol in the house. But the sort of crap going on in the dorms never went on, and I have far more memories of you sober and having a good time that way than the other.

Anything else is for you to tell--or not tell--the girls as you choose.

And it goes without saying, though I'll say it anyway of how proud I am of you for coming through that and how much I love you!

BBS-Beth's Better Sister said...

I remember that house!! Tim and I stayed on the floor one night (in the front room) and the car (my Chevette) broke down on the way home on the arterial and we had to have my father come and rescue us! Oh, and I LOVED Hill Street Blues...."Pizza man"!

The Library Lady said...

Oh, dear, Carrie--Beth tipped you off to what I'm up to here!

I remember when you and Tim were there, I think. I actually spent my last night at the house on that living room floor.My furniture had gone to other people and I was flying out the next morning. My cat Puffin (gone 12 years this month and I still miss her) kept coming up and sniffing me, not getting what was going on....