The author still dreams of his boyhood porch in Berwyn. (Submitted))

I asked my Mom and Dad, “Are we going to change our name to Eck?”

My parents had just bought a 30-year-old bungalow on Clarence Avenue in Berwyn. I was 4. It was 1958. Dad and Mom were walking me through this house, with, I think, a couple of members of the seller’s family. 

As a little guy, I was puzzled: how can you move into someone else’s house just like that? Our home, the only one I’d known, stood on Park Avenue in Brookfield near, yes, a big park. All of my friends lived on that block. How can you just all of a sudden leave your house and move into another? Wasn’t this place the other family’s house? Sure it was.

What my question implied, without being able to say so at the time, was that I had come to know and understand who I was, in part, out of identification with our home in Brookfield, and by extension, with the nearby neighborhood. So if that was my house, this was their house; and if I was going to live in it from now on, well … I, along with my family, would have to become them, too.

But of course, despite my puzzlement, when we moved to Berwyn, we moved the Kordesh name and identity with us. Over time, our bungalow became known to our new neighbors as the Kordesh home. Three of my five siblings were born there. We graduated from the Catholic school, St. Mary of Celle, a half-block from our front door. I left for college at 17, having experienced all of my grade school as well as high school years in that house on Clarence.

While we hadn’t seen much of the sellers after we’d settled in, there was one amenity that they had built into our bungalow that always reminded me of them: the whole-house fan in the attic. When I would open the upper-floor door, hit the switch next to it, hear the motor kick in, listen to the large blades start to whir, and feel them pull cool air through the windows and up the stairwell, I’d experience that fan’s impact as the prior family’s legacy, still here, comforting us.

The bungalow on Clarence grew on me and in me. I still dream of living there, walking in the basement, peering out through the dining room windows, or looking into the yard from the alley through which I’d walk to school. I still imagine Mom calling us in for lunch through the front screen door. The floorboards in the attic squeak as I saunter over them in my memory. The concrete slabs on the front porch, on which I sat with my friends, still rest there, solid and cool.

In Oak Park today, I walk past classic homes whose plaques honor the architects who designed, and families who built, them. Other special abodes are labeled for renowned, former residents. Current occupants value their homes for these historical legacies. But even as the visions of architects and builders live on in these gorgeous structures, the families of today, I imagine, edit their own stories into the chronicles of their archways, floors and gardens, whether or not their own names end up engraved on bronze plates by the sidewalks.

A few years ago, sitting one night on the deck of the Victorian in which we had raised our kids, I began sobbing, knowing that we were readying her for sale. This gracious blue lady had been ours for 16 years; and we, hers. 

From the grey of the wood that I had painted, through the tint of the kitchen window through which I had watched mornings emerge, and out of the glow from stringed lights hung for our son’s wedding, she seemed to say, “In these memories and more, I will move with you.”

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