Places I have Lived (Thanks google maps)

Google maps just keeps getting better and better. I love revisiting the places I’ve been. Not quite like being there, but more practical sometimes. Anyway, I had the idea of taking google map “photos” of all the places I have lived, so here it is.

I was born in Pietermaritizburg, South Africa. A sleepy little town 60 miles inland from Durban. I lived there for 2 years. The family has forgotten our address, but here is a picture of Grey’s Hospital, where I was delivered.

Next we moved to Durban. We spent 5 years in the “flats”. Cato Manor flats. Lower level on the north-east corner (although we moved once). Everyone was poor. To make some extra money, my Mom was the superintendent. That made it interesting. Lots of kids living there. One of the tenants had taken one whiff of mustard gas in WWI and was still slowly coughing to death. There was a park close by with swings and monkeys in the trees. A happy place for a kid. The first clear memory is at 4 yrs old when I was eating a sandwich on the concrete steps, fell down somehow and cut my chin. 3 stitches, a good scar, and a lost permanent tooth eventually.

In 1998, Pearl and I drove by and I got a couple of pictures:

There were two world-class schools in Durban. Durban Girls College and Clifton. It wasn’t a far drive for us to get there, but when I was 6 or 7, my parents could afford to buy a house much closer. 324 Florida Rd, and our all-time favorite house. It had a pool and was close to Mitchell Park. Helen still needed to be driven to school, but I could walk to mine. Much later the house was bought by friends of my Dad and converted into a business (pool is gone), so in 1998 Pearl and I could knock on the door and look around. Looks like it is for lease now.

It was getting pretty clear that the future of South Africa was going to get ugly, so my parents decided to sell the house and rent. That way we could leave on short notice if need be. It was only supposed to be for a year or, but it became several. We moved to Musgrave Rd, across the street from Helen’s school. The Ashes (Joe was the vice-mayor of Durban) had a large house and had subdivided the rear into an apartment. Perfect for us. We were actually next door to the Catholic school and could climb over the wall and swim in their pool. These days the house isn’t very recognizable. They moved the pool and build a second adjoining house. When Pearl and I visited, there was a large gate preventing us from seeing in. Some very well off Muslims live there now.

Christmas 1976 we announced we were leaving. The following year was lousy. I had to go to boarding school because Clifton was ended. Helen was finishing up her last year of high school. My Dad left at the start of the year to get settled in Cleveland and study for his exams. Topsy had her sudden heart attack. Lots to plan and all very very sad. I hated Kearsney before I even got there. My fatal mistake was announcing at the start that I would be leaving after a year. In a Lord of the Flies world, that meant there was little reason to form an alliance with me. That put me below the top dogs but above everyone else because I was a top athlete. However, an alliance of one is vulnerable, plus I was still very short, so the lower dogs could gain much by beating me, plus they knew no top dog would help. This lasted until rugby season when I became starting left wing for the A team, and from then on I was untouchable because the top dogs had to defend me (can’t exactly pass me the ball one afternoon then stand by and watch me get beat up the next, after all). Sigh, if only I knew then what I know how. The worst year of my life but I grew up five.

Pearl and I drove right in to Kearnesy. We drove down the one road to the end, then right back out the other. Never stopped. No pictures.

Here is the google maps version. I do recommend the drive through. This area is called the valley of a thousand hills, and it is utterly beautiful and  very “close to my bones”. That and the Drakensberg.

Well so much for South Africa. Next up was Cleveland Ohio, where my Dad was being sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic. He was waiting for my Mom and I when we flew in (Helen stayed behind for another month.) December 11th, 1977. I will never forget the plane door opening and the blast of cold air that rushed in. Coldest I had ever been was my Mother telling me to put on a sweater because she was cold. That night was below 10F and the wind was howling. There were 10ft high piles of snow in the parking lot and my Dad couldn’t find the car for 20 min!

So a rough start. But I loved the people in Cleveland. The nicest people I have met anywhere. Have to be to get through that weather. When May hit, we had still barely seen the sun and we didn’t see it that much that summer either. The weather was too much and we moved to Kansas City in August 1978. Here is a google map image of our home on Duffield Rd. Oddly enough, not a single family photo of the house. The things you don’t think to do.

So now we were in Leawood and I was starting 10th grade at Shawnee Mission South. My parents lived in this house for over 20 yrs. My mother built an incredible garden. David Haydn (of Phi Psi brotherhood fame) lives there now.

In 1981 I started at KU. Phi Psi for 4 great yrs in the house. (I was Chapter Advisor in the 90s and am still on Housing Corp.)

Doug Hiemstra was in the 5yr Industrial Design program and I was starting my Masters so we lived together from 1985-1986. 7th and Michigan, across the street from Louise’s West. That was a wonderful year. Both Doug and I were working our asses off and loving life. Louise’s had a deal that on Thursday night midnight, whoever had the high score on each machine won a free 12 pack. I had one of the pinball machines mastered and I only remember losing once that whole year. I’d wake up at 7AM, ride my bike to the lab (15th & Iowa) for the morning, ride home at 1PM for lunch, run over to Louise’s to play a quick game, ride back to the lab for the afternoon, back home at 5-7 for dinner, run over to Louises for a quick game, working at home until 10PM, then 10-12 at Louise’s drinking schooners and playing that game. There was plenty of competition, so Thurs night was huge. All the top contenders were playing against each other.

Doug graduated and had that awful split with “her”, so the start of summer was tough. Doug lost a ton of weight and couldn’t sleep, so we often found ourselves driving out to Lone Star Lake at 5 in the morning. Doug didn’t mope long, and he rented a van and headed out to San Francisco. The rest is history.

Meanwhile, Scotty Brown was finishing up at Washburn and he moved in for a month or two while studying for the bar.

Two standoutevents. The first was that sometime over winter, one of our trash cans had frozen solid, so Doug and I stored it behind the house. Then forgot about it. It sat there from December to July. Scotty, being helpful, dragged it to the curb. I saw him and yelled “NO!” too late. All of a sudden we smelled it. The trash can was one big maggot infested container and it reeked so badly it made everyone instantly nauseous. And it was a still night with no wind and that trash can was 20 yards from Louise’s West!

We quickly dragged it down several houses, washed away the slime trail that showed where it came from, and pretended we knew nothing about it.

The second incident was after Scotty moved back to KC. It was raining hard and the creek behind the house flooded. I was sitting home watching TV and suddenly a wave of brown water came in under the front door. I saved what I could, but for 5 min I had over 1 foot of rainwater rushing down my drive. The carpet was ruined. I had a cool landlord and I had only a month left, so he forgave the last month’s rent, I put down tons of newspaper to soak up the water, made sure all my belongings were safe, and threw a party. Keg behind the house, just kept putting down newspaper where it was wet, and we were good to go. I moved out early and the landlord replaced the carpet.

Next stop was a year by myself in 1986-87. I taught Introduction to Thermodynamics that summer and loved teaching. The MS clicked along and I finished that on schedule in 18 months. The apartment had no air-conditioning, which was a bit tough. My first time in the Lawrence “ghetto”. One-room aptmt on the ground floor. One fun part that the immediate start of my day was climbing 11th St on my bike. That woke you up.

The last month of summer, a mouse fell into the gap between the walls right  next to my pillow, and couldn’t get out. So not only was it blistering hot, it also smelled terrible.

I was ready to get out of the ghetto. Landlord was a bizarre henpecked weirdo as well.

Next was Tom Rotert in his senior year of 1987-1988. I was the “responsible one”, and Tom and his friends were living it up to the full. Lance Waldo was always around, Molly McKay, Jimmy and Pat, you name it. Helluva year.

We started at 12th & Rhode Island. I inspected the house in the dark, because it had no electricity. Weird house with most of the windows sided up. Two tiny rooms upstairs through tiny steps. A/C unit in the upstairs room, and when I asked “does it work” the owner replied “to the best of my knowledge”. And he didn’t want to sign a contract.I should have known.

Of course the a/c didn’t work and the landlord reminded me that he hadn’t lied about it, he had in fact said it worked “to the best of my knowledge”. I replied “Yes, of course you did. I get it now.” We weren’t there more than a few weeks when the repossession note was delivered to the door for nonpayment of the loan. We quit sending him rent payments. milked it as long as we could, and then threw a huge and awesome party the night before the bank said we had to be out.

Now it was off to 12th & New York. Another bizarre trash house. Bad neighborhood with trashy people of all colors. No heat upstairs, so it had to percolate up through a grill in the floor.That was cold in winter. No shower, but a great cast iron bath. And the good times continued.

Our lease only went until the end of school, and I needed a summer plan. Luckily, Kris Gottschalk had a place in the ghetto. This was an awesome apartment. We had the best porch ever. Great summer at 12th & Tennessee..

And then it was 1988-89 and off to 7th & New York across the street from the train station. Loved this location. Easy walk downtown; the train came through at 2AM every night and helped you drift off to sleep (I still miss this a lot). Joan Valverde was downstairs and we were on the 2nd floor. Cindy Lewy, myself, and a guy who has since told me to leave him alone so I forget his name (I blame his parents; he was not a happy person and does not make friends; his brother came to stay for a week and they didn’t say 20 words to each other). Kendra was supposed to be our roomate, but her Mom found out at the last minute that I was a guy and that sunk it. Sadly, we only got to live there a year. Our landlord, Lance, thought we were just too rough on his precious 100 yr old house, so he would not renew.

So Cindy and I needed a place together. Seeing plenty of Andy Sells too. We found it next to Centennial Park. The cats liked it. Cindy lived there until her graduation and I lived by myself for a 2nd year. So 1989-91. Also one of my favorite locations.

And then Brad Robertson moved back to Lawrence with his family. So I moved into their basement for 1991-92. Sadly it was also when I stopped cooking, and I have yet to pick it up again seriously. But the location was interesting. We had a private park in the back yard. And a school across the street where the little kids screamed nonstop at the top of their lungs during recess. It brings a smile. And of course, 2 yr old Anne as a roommate.

Brad quit his job and the family went back to Wichita, so I was alone that summer. They were trying to sell the house and couldn’t show if off properly with me there, I had to clear out fast. The timing was lucky, I’d met Sean Williams earlier and he had an extra room, so I moved to his place on Mass. This was my most favorite house of all. A church parking lot for overflow, a busy street where everyone came by, best porch eva, a liquor store, supermarket and restaurants a few houses down, it was great! (Google map picture not great because there was a big tree in the way.)

A little later I ran into Pearl again and we began “hanging out”. This went on for a few years, then Sean started making noises about moving to KC, right about the time Pearl’s lease was running out. Before Sean knew it, he had been “moved out” and Pearl was in. We got married while still living here. In 1997, Sean decided to sell the house and we had to choose. I was working in KC, Pearl was flying around the country ever other week, and we could buy twice the house in KC than we could in Lawrence. Very sadly, we moved to Overland Park. Nice quiet neighborhood with fast access to the highways and anywhere else. Love the new place but always miss Lawrence.

Rovarii meet Obama, 2008 Photo Album

11/1/2008 Hello all, Yesterday Chris, Rachel and I went to the Obama rally in Pueblo (30 miles south of the Springs) and had a most pleasant surprise. We left the really a little early to get a table at what we were told is “the best local Mexican food restaurant” in the city. We just got seated after a 20 minute wait when a staff member came to our table and told me that he liked the Obama pin on my hat and that the Obamas were on their way to have dinner. We had a seat with a picture window that faced the street and within minutes the Secret Service and police showed up, shut down the street and restaurant. A few minutes later a motorcade with the Obama’s car stopped in front of our window and the Obamas came in with their children. Barrack stopped at our table and shook everyone’s hand and then joined his family a few feet away. Later Michele Obama came by and I got to “bump fist” with our next First Lady. Chris was impressed by the security and said it was like being on the set of the Matrix. Rachel was ready to follow the advice of her cousin Jaia and ask the Obamas to pass the Ketchup, but being in a Mexican restaurant they did not have any on the table to pass. Here are some of our photos from the restaurant. Enjoy. Mike

Rovarii meet Obama, 2008
Rovarii meet Obama, 2008Nov 3, 2008Photos: 7