Junie’s House

I remember Junie’s house. She was my best friend until we moved away when I was in third grade. I remember her house as comfortable. A heated enclosed front porch held all her well-used dolls and dress-up clothes. Her grandma always sat in the living room in an old wooden rocker. She was tiny, silent and mysterious to me. Junie’s big dining room was crammed full by just three things: an old upright piano with lots of sheet music on its top, a huge dining room table covered in papers and books and magazines, and a large sidebar that had mail on it and a mish mash of other things. The kitchen was huge. I was entranced by the modern washing machine and dryer next to the big gas stove. That was the only washer and dryer I’d ever seen – until we moved to our new house. Junie had a special white metal chair at the table. It sat her up high and was battered and dented. I was always jealous of it when I had to sit on a regular chair on top of books. Junie’s mother, Bertha, was my mother’s best friend. I remember her in the kitchen, wearing an apron around her ample waist, always happy. She made yummy pb&j sandwiches and cut off all the crusts for us. Junie shared a bedroom with her older sister. First door on the right when you got upstairs. There was a dressing table between the two twin beds, covered with Auberdeen’s lipsticks, dried corsages, and fingernail polish bottles. And strangely, I remember the doorknobs in her house. They were big and white and looked like china to me. I have no idea what the doorknobs in my own house looked like.

I have no photos of Junie’s house; nor did my mother. I find it interesting that I remember it in so much detail. And that I use the word “comfortable” to describe it. But that’s in juxtaposition to my mother’s tiny glass animal collection on display in our dining room and my collection of story book dolls kept on glassed in shelves in my bedroom.

winter storm rages –
farm cat beckoned into house
turns back to old barn

Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today I host and ask people to “travel down memory lane” with a simple exercise. Close your eyes for a few moments and go back in time to your earliest memories NOT recalled by virtue of a photo or family lore. Now start jotting them down. You’ll be surprised what you come up with. When I first did this exercise, I actually drew out what the first house I lived in was like: rectangles for rooms. Then I labelled them: my room, parents’ room, brother’s room, living room, dining room, linen closet in hall — and suddenly I remembered climbing up in there to hide from my mom! After jotting things down, choose one memory to share.
Remember, a haibun is: 2 or 3 paragraphs of succinct prose that must be true (cannot be fictional), followed by a haiku that is somehow related to the prose and includes a seasonal reference.

Photo is one of the few I have of me and my friend Junie. Junie is on the left. An interesting fact we found out about 5 years ago when we reunited after some 60+ years, we were married on the same date! That’s a Tiny Tears doll she’s holding. Anyone remember those?

44 thoughts on “Junie’s House

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) March 1, 2021 / 3:02 pm

    What a lovely memory, the strange detail of the doorknob was really interesting.. but there are details that you do remember. I do remember how warm the hardwood floors felt when we first moved….

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian March 1, 2021 / 3:48 pm

      Many many years later (60+) I got back together with Junie when she was vacationing in Boston. She lives in California. I shared with her my memories of her house….with no photos of them….and she couldn’t believe how spot-on they were! Yes…I think remembering the doorknobs is kind of wierd too.


  2. Lucy March 1, 2021 / 3:05 pm

    Beautifully written. I find we remember what often seems like it should have eluded us. Memory in this way is so odd and fascinating. With how you described the house, it felt almost dissociating and very evocative to the scene.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian March 1, 2021 / 3:49 pm

      It is strange isn’t it, how specific the memories of her house are? Glad you enjoyed.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. msjadeli March 1, 2021 / 3:15 pm

    Amazing the details you remember from that place. It has to have had much significance to you. It sounds like Junie felt special in her home with her special chair.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian March 1, 2021 / 3:50 pm

      Yes. And I think her mother must have made me feel special too! You just never had to worry about breaking anything in her house. All was comfortable and lived in. Not so much at my house, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. kim881 March 1, 2021 / 3:25 pm

    So much detail in your piece! Yours was the kind of childhood I would have loved, Lill, but there were no girls of my age where we lived, only boys. My younger sister had plenty of friends, who would huddle together with their dolls, tea sets and dressing up clothes, but they never let me join in and I became a tomboy. I didn’t find girl friends of my own age until I went to grammar school at the age of eleven – being August babies, my friend and I were the youngest in the class. In answer to your question, I remember Tiny Tears. As you may recall, I have a doll phobia, but my sister loved them and often tortured me with her various dolls, although I wasn’t so freaked out by Barbie or Sindy. I got her back with buttons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian March 1, 2021 / 3:53 pm

      Buttons? Okay, you have to explain that!
      Yes…it’s interesting that I remember all these details. I just remember her house was a place you never had to worry about breaking anything…maybe that’s why I remember it as comfortable? Her mother was easy going. My house had lots more that could be broken I guess…maybe it was more formal? Our dining room table had a lace table cloth on it and was never used except for Christmas or fancy dinners. … and it never had anything on it. It was more ….. untouchable?
      Tell me about buttons!

      Liked by 1 person

      • kim881 March 1, 2021 / 4:15 pm

        When I was little, I was obsessed with ballet and I used to tell my little sister all the stories. I frightened the life out of her when I told her about the Button Moulder in Peer Gynt and she refused to wear anything with buttons,

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Ingrid March 1, 2021 / 3:42 pm

    I think I had a friend like Junie, Lillian! She always had all the latest toys, a full set of ‘She-ra’ dolls, a ‘my little pony’ castle: I was both jealous and fascinated when I visited! I love the photo, how wonderful that you still have one. I had a ‘tiny tears’ doll as well. Fancy training us up to deal with screaming babies!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian March 1, 2021 / 3:54 pm

      Ah your comment makes me smile, Ingrid! This photo is from my mother’s old photo album. There is only one other of Junie and me….we look to be about 3 and we’re in our swimming suits sitting in one of those old metal wash tubs!!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Beverly Crawford March 1, 2021 / 4:43 pm

    Strange you remember Junie’s house so well. I think you must have felt very welcomed and special in Junie’s house. Funny about the doorknobs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian March 2, 2021 / 1:21 pm

      I remember it so well….and as I said, it just seemed like it was “comfortable”. Junie’s mom always made me feel welcome and free.


  7. Ron. March 1, 2021 / 6:13 pm

    Haibunilicious, Lillian. It’s funny how places and people meld in our recollections, isn’t it? Clearly recalled and minutely related. Wonderful work. (And thanks for hosting!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian March 2, 2021 / 1:24 pm

      Always happy to tend the pub at dVerse! 🙂 I figure I must have spent a lot of time at Junie’s. The only distinct memory I have of being there is us sitting in her living room, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with those colored tin glasses full of cold mile, and watching a tv show in black and white on their tv called Uncle Johnny Coons….it was broadcast out of Chicago as I recall. Have no idea what it was about. We also would watch Roy Rogers at her house. He was her favorite cowboy while I liked the Lone Ranger better! 🙂


  8. rothpoetry March 1, 2021 / 6:54 pm

    A wonderful story! You girls were so cute! Love the big shoes. It is amazing what we remember!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian March 2, 2021 / 1:26 pm

      Isn’t it interesting to just sit and let the mind wander backwards and remember things? I have no memory of playing dressup with Junie….which obviously this photo shows we did. I do remember watching Roy Rogers on the tv with her in her living room. And eating at her big kitchen table. And spending the night one New Year’s Eve there when our parents went out together and her sister Auberdeen baby sat us. Seems to me we got to put on Auberdeen’s lipstick!

      Liked by 1 person

      • rothpoetry March 2, 2021 / 8:18 pm

        What wonderful memories!


  9. robtkistner March 1, 2021 / 7:22 pm

    Great memories Lillian, beautifully shared.. I remember those white door handles. My friend Gary Barnes had those in his house. They were porcelain I think? We had cut glass door handles. I loved when the sun shone through my bedtoom window, caught the glass, and washed a spectrum onto the wall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian March 2, 2021 / 1:28 pm

      Porcelain. Exactly! Some folks we knew when we lived in rural Iowa lived in an old farmhouse that had been in their family for generations. They had those cut glass door handles…they were beautiful! One of the first years we moved to Boston, we rented a car and drove to Plymouth, MA to see Plymouth Rock – which was very disappointing. It’s literally a small rock. I wouldn’t even call it a boulder! But, we also drove to Sandwich, MA and went to the Sandwich glass museum….MANY of those beautiful crystal glass door knobs on display! 🙂


  10. Carol Congalton March 1, 2021 / 8:33 pm

    Such lovely memories! I loved the cat going back to the barn! Probably mice for it to catch!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian March 2, 2021 / 1:34 pm

      Probably! She had no desire to come into our well lit house with all the “comforts of home”….she wanted to enjoy the “comforts” of what she thought of as home…the hay lofts, the mice providing her a meal! The haiku is actually a memory from our early married life where we rented a farmhouse in rural Iowa to see if we’d like to live in the country – we did! Our dirt lane had our house on one side, a barn, outbuildings, and pig styes on the other side. Depending on how the wind blew, we kept our windows closed even in the spring and summer!!!! The cat I write about was a farm cat who’d been expecting kittens. We were in the midst of a HUGE blizzard and we heard her mewing at our door….put out some warm milk for her which she lapped up then trotted off. She was obviously no longer pregnant and we worried for her newborn kittens so my husband bundled up and followed her…thinking he’d bring the kittens and her back to our house, inside, away from the howling storm. He led her all over the farm….but never to her kittens. He came back in with icicles on his beard, literally. We didn’t see the farm cat for about 2 weeks and suddenly she was outside with all her lively kittens! She probably had them hidden in the barn and in no way, was she going to risk a human handling them! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Reena Saxena March 1, 2021 / 11:32 pm

    Your description of the chair reminds me of McDonalds offering special seats for children, and becoming the favourite diner for all parents. Small things count.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian March 2, 2021 / 1:34 pm

      Oh they do indeed! And Junie’s mother knew how to always make me feel at home. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. K.Hartless March 2, 2021 / 2:05 am

    The haiku is really a powerful ending to the piece. I love the photograph and the memory of the dolls is vividly described. Much enjoyed.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. anotherkatewilson March 2, 2021 / 3:26 am

    Cutting off crusts is good – I had to eat crusts as a kid and hated them. I don’t eat them as an adult, which my kids think is funny because they do eat theirs, and sometimes mine as well.


    • lillian March 2, 2021 / 1:36 pm

      I do eat my crusts now! Never got into that habit with our kids. I did however, cut their sandwiches into triangles or squares – whichever they preferred on any given day! 🙂


  14. The Abject Muse March 2, 2021 / 7:24 am

    What a lovely memory! And you and Junie were married on the same day. That’s incredible. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. calmkate March 2, 2021 / 1:30 pm

    I remember every detail of our first home vividly but only snapshots of my friends homes. I don’t know this doll but vividly recall dressups and dolls!

    appreciate the warmth of your memories and that you met up again after all those years

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian March 2, 2021 / 1:38 pm

      So glad you enjoyed. Funny….I remember the house so exactly….and the doll….(I had one and Junie did too)….and watching cowboy shows at her house….and sitting at her kitchen table…..none of which there are photos. But the photo here? Of us dressing up? I have no memory of playing dress-up with her! The tricks our memories do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • calmkate March 2, 2021 / 1:42 pm

        fascinating isn’t it … does sound like you spent a lot of your time there. My parents kept us close so mainly my friends came to my house to play.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Helen Dehner March 2, 2021 / 2:44 pm

    My dearest and best friend growing up was Julie … reading your haibun brought me joy and resurrected precious memories. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Ali Grimshaw March 3, 2021 / 12:33 am

    It is amazing the details we remember and the ones we forget. Having a lifelong friend is such a treasure.


  18. kaykuala h March 4, 2021 / 5:02 am

    It is so wonderful to maintain a relationship for that long Lillian. Perhaps that explained why you could remember so many details.



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