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A Home Is for Living, Not Flipping

The baseball is cracking into Tom Hopps’ glove as he plays catch on the sidewalk.  Terri Reader is playing next door in her backyard, and Mr. Coyle, one of the millworkers in our neighborhood, is walking out front to inspect his freshly mowed lawn.  There is a continuity to these childhood memories that becomes more vivid as time marches across the decades—the 125 steps to Kennedy Park’s ball fields in summer and ice rinks in winter; or bike rides around The Block, a three-tenths of a mile rectangle with thirty houses on two sides and another three, including our own, on “the short end.”

Did academics count the homes in Levittown?  No, they were too busy deconstructing suburbia after World War II.  But one tends to notice such minutiae in real neighborhoods where everyone knows his neighbors, including their strengths and weaknesses—like the family names of childhood friends and old paper-route customers on The Block, as lyrical today as they were when I first heard them pronounced five decades ago.  You never forget the names—Slav, Irish, German, Italian—or the professions of their parents, whether autoworker or steelworker, construction foreman, preacher, police officer, or teamster.  Or the dwellings they lived in and each called home.

Your family home will never be “flipped” like the renovated structures on the popular TV show Flip This House. ...

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