GPS: I Go To Pennsylvania In Search Of Another House

by JL Beeken on 1-19-2011

I’m in search of GPS co-ordinates for another house.

In 1973 I went to Pennsylvania to visit my father. I didn’t know I was going to visit my father. I didn’t know I was going to Pennsylvania. I was traveling around the U.S. and Canada and it just happened. I remember the house clearly but that isn’t helping me because I can’t find it.

Or, at least, I think I can’t find it.

I signed up for a $1 trial of Inteligator. I typed in my father’s name. I got back 3 cities and 4 zip codes. A Pennsylvania zip code. Progress. Typing in [city name], PA, [zip code], Bing Maps put me down somewhere that obviously wasn’t it. Google Maps, the same. But wandering around the map within a few miles, I suddenly recognized the street name.

I thought it would be a simple matter of driving down the street til the house jumped out at me. Nothing jumping.

But this might be it. It’s the only house on that street that could be it.

If you’d asked me before today, I would have sworn it was not in a cul-de-sac and there was a one-story office tacked onto the left side. I can’t find a single house on that street with a garage on one side and an office on the other. There are only garages.

The driveway up the right-hand side works. The garage attached to the house on the right-hand side works. At the time I was there, the shutters were painted black. In fact, when I was there my father was in the process of repainting the entire place. Any house within a mile of my father, he was painting it.

I have a photo of my father taken in 1971 with black shutters and 6-pane windows behind him, so that works.

I mowed the lawn once (much to my father’s dismay because there’s a very particular way of mowing suburban lawns, apparently) and it was dead flat. So that works.

This property is sitting in a curve in the road and that doesn’t work. Or maybe it does. I remember the lawn conversation going something like, “Well, how I am supposed to mow it on the diagonal when it isn’t square?” Duh.

We went out for a walk the first evening I was there, turned right in front of the house and went around a crescent. OR, we went up the street, (there were no sidewalks then) took a path through the woods and came out on another street so I had a sense of going around. According to the map, there is no other street. There’s not even a crescent. So, none of that works.

You know how your mind starts in. Well, maybe someone bent the road after I was there. Maybe, of all the houses on all the streets in all the world the house I’m looking for is the one that burned down. Maybe a meteor fell on it. Maybe someone bought the house because they just wanted the lot to build something else on. Maybe I’m on the wrong street. Maybe I’m beating my head on a wall.

There’s a man in that neighborhood frozen in Google Time, raking leaves, and I keep driving by him and he’s not helping me.

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