I only remember ever living in one home with my parents because we moved in a few weeks after my 2nd birthday and they still live there today. When we go to visit my parents, my husband & I sleep in my old room, although the canopy bed of my childhood and daybed of my youth are long gone. (as is the two-toned, green shag carpet, thankfully!)
The house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch on 2 acres in Phenix City, Alabama. The most remarkable thing about my childhood home is its proximity to so many relatives. My maternal grandmother lives in an antebellum home atop a small hill. Her downhill property lines adjoin 4 other homes: my parents', my Aunt Laurie & Uncle Ronnie's, my Great-Aunt Dot's and my sister, Boo's (which formerly was the home of my Great Aunt, Sister). After all the relatives that were interested purchased property, the remainder was sold to developers. Thirty years later, my old homestead is somewhat of a compound with a "real" neighborhood of non-relatives developed around it.
Dobbs Hill was a fantastic place to spend my childhood. All the homes are on at least 2 acres and the backyards meet. My uncle is a commercial contractor. When his crews weren't otherwise busy, he had them construct all types of things for us to enjoy. Where the property lines meet is a swimming pool, a tennis court, a great tree swing and a horseshoe pit. We grew up catching lightening bugs, riding 3-wheelers, 4-wheelers, go karts, golf carts, bikes, etc. all over the place. There was swimming, volleyball, whiffleball, shooting baskets, playing hide and go seek and grilling out A LOT! I can still hear the creeeeak and SLAM! of our back screen door. We essentially lived outdoors and barefoot.
My great-aunt, Sister, never had children. She was another grandmother figure who taught us to tie strings to the legs of June Bugs and watch them fly in a circle, eat scuppernongs from her vines and to always use our manners. In return, we were allowed to enjoy her homemade potato candy. We were surrounded by land bearing a pear tree, a fig tree, honeysuckles, blackberries and pecan trees galore.
Because my Grandmama's house is in the center of the property, relatives in my mother's large family (5 siblings who have a combined 13 children and 11 grandchildren) congregate there for holidays. There was/is ALWAYS something happening on Dobbs Hill.
The only downside to growing up this way was the total lack of privacy. Everyone was/is always into everyone else's business. I can still remember getting out of the car after my first "car date" and hearing a chorus of giggles from the redtips that line our driveway. Four of my relatives (including 2 adults) were hiding out in the bushes to spy and see if I got my first kiss that night. Thankfully, I did not! This lack of privacy was a blessing overall, as it also kept trouble at bay.
I have a distinct memory of a weekend I was home visiting from college and my parents had asked me to keep an eye on my high school aged sister. I was off on a date at a college football game three hours away (the picture of teenage responsibility) when I received a phone call from my 8 year old cousin. He told me there were carloads of teenagers arriving at our house.
I immediately called Boo and pretended to be 10 minutes from home, just checking to see if she needed me to stop and bring her anything. My young cousin called back with 60 seconds and said, "I don't know what just happened, but all those kids just came pouring back out of your house."
That, my friends, is the power of nosy Southern family! :-)