Tenney Park celebration, Jane Qualle, 2019

A short story about Tenney Park and the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood, told by Jane Qualle.

    3:40 - SAND STREETS

    INTERVIEWER: It's May 19, we are at the Tenney Park Century Celebration at the Tenney Park shelter. This is Carol Griskavich and we are joined by—

    NARRATOR: Jane Qualle. Q-U-A-L-L-E.

    INTERVIEWER: Jane, thank you for joining us. So, what is your connection to Tenney Park and the neighborhood?

    NARRATOR: We had the pleasure, back in 1979, of]buying our house at 1142 Elizabeth Street. And, I'm gonna get emotional because I loved living there. My son at the time was about nine months old and it was just an amazing neighborhood because we had a babysitting co-op. And there were about twenty families in the co-op so we got to know many, many of the neighbors and all the kids in the neighborhood and everybody was just absolutely friendly, helpful, there's always, also, like a women's group, that every now and again would get together and we could do chit-chat or if you wanted to work on cross-stitch or whatever it's just kind of a neat way for women to gather and get together.

    I used to work in the Legislature and when my son was little I'd walk downtown to stop in and say hi to my friends and one day I came home and one of my neighbors said, "Where you been?", and I said, "oh, we just walked downtown," and she goes, "All that way?" And to me, a mile is nothing, so it was kind of surprising.

    Um, used to go swimming at the beach all the time, and ice skating at the ice skating rink and just nothing, nothing but fond, fond memories of living in this neighborhood. We moved to the north side, which is great, but it's not the personal connection that the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood has with proximity to your neighbors and what have you.

    So, um, I did have—I'm a retired nurse, and I had a patient come into the clinic one day with her daughter and when I had finished my assessment with my patient, the daughter said, "You look familiar to me," and I said, "Well what's your name?" and she told me. And as it turns out, it's the family that we bought our house on Elizabeth Street from, and her comment was, "Well that's funny, I remember we sold the house to a young couple." Well, that new baby that we had when we moved in was, at that time, like thirty-five years old and I said, "Yes, we were a young couple back in the day!"

    And then, one other story about living in the neighborhood was, my husband's a retired letter carrier, and for a couple years, he actually delivered the route that we lived on. And so, he would come home for lunch and park his jeep in the driveway. And we had a neighbor that was fairly new to the neighborhood and he went to deliver her mail, and she came out and she went, "(gasps), it's you!" and he said, "Yeah," and she said, "Oh, thank goodness, I thought all this time Jane was having an affair with the mailman because he would park his jeep in our driveway."

    And so, but anyway that's kind of the connection and unfortunately—well, fortunately for my family—I was an at-home mom. And so we only had one income, and being a house built in 1917, it always needed work done. And we were going to need a new roof, and we were going to need a new furnace, and we had painted this very tall, two-story house once and didn't really want to have to paint it again, and made the decision that we needed to move on. And for years and years after I moved on , I used to dream about MY house, and it would be the same on the outside and I would freak out, "What did you do to MY house?"

    And it wasn't just the house, it was the neighbors, it was the energy of the neighborhood. We had an older lady who lived next door, and she was in her eighties. And she actually grew up in a house on the corner of Few and Elizabeth, and then when she married she got the house next door. And, she would talk about back in the day, when the men would get paid, and the streets were all sand back in the day, and that the men would go out and spend their paycheck and get drunk, and then come home, and their feet would be burning on the hot sand, and everything. And just, like, stories of what it was like back in the day before, you know, everything got more developed and stuff. But, um, just the proximity to anything, really. And the neighbors, and just the character of the neighborhood is just something that I truly, truly miss.

    INTERVIEWER: How do you feel, or how do you perceive that the neighborhood has changed or stayed the same over the years?

    NARRATOR: Um, it appears to have mostly stayed the same. The one major change that I've noticed, is I could not afford to live in this neighborhood anymore. The house that we sold for $58,000 is now worth over $300,000 and the taxes were like seven or eight thousand dollars. And I just can't afford, I'm retired and I can't afford to pay that kind of tax. It's hard enough paying the taxes where I live. But essentially the neighborhood seems like there's still a lot of children, a lot of families, and um, a lot of good energy in this neighborhood.

    INTERVIEWER: That's great. Do you have anything else you want to add or any stories?

    NARRATOR: Umm, I think that's pretty much it. I was very, very fortunate to have found that house and I miss it dearly. I miss the neighborhood.

    INTERVIEWER: Thank you so much.

    NARRATOR: You're welcome.

    INTERVIEWER: We really appreciate it.