So as January morphs into February, I’m taking a look at where we are in this next chapter of our lives, and finding us in a new place. Although in some ways, it’s hard to call it new, in other ways, that’s exactly what it is. After owning our house in Ocean City since January of 2005, we are indeed at a new place in 2018. For the first time, we start the year as residents of New Jersey, and as owners of just one home. We’d talked about it for years, and it feels like we’ve been in the planning stage for almost as long, but the end of 2017 was our time to make the jump official!
When we moved into the house in Mineola in August of 1986, Susie was 5-6 months pregnant with twins, that would turn out to be Krissi and Kenny, on November 20th of that same year. With their arrival, our family of three grew to a family of five. Over the next 31+ years, we watched Billy, Krissi and Kenny grow in that house, eventually to the point that they moved on with their lives, and as it had been in the beginning, it was just Susie and me again! Through the 31 years, we had a good life, becoming involved with the 3 kids’ school and social lives, making friends, through school and church and Scouts, and living the kind of busy life that a family with 3 kids lives in modern times. Every summer of those 31 years, we made sure that we had some time during the summer at the beach in Ocean City. It was a place that I first came to when I was 5 years old, that I first brought Susie to early in our married life, and a place that we’d always dreamed of having a house. That dream came true, early in 2005, when thanks to a fortuitous financial occurrence (we’d bought a house in Las Vegas, Nevada 18 months earlier, that because of an incredible increase in value, we sold for a profit of over $160,000), we bought a house on Pennlyn Place, in Ocean City.
Soon after taking possession of the Ocean City house, we discovered we got much more than just a house; we got a whole new life. We consider our Ocean City friends our Ocean City Family, an although we originally figured we’d trade houses as prices went up, Susie says it would take a team of wild horses to drag her away from this location. With Doc and Doie on one side, and Patti and Meade on the other, and good friends like Karen and Bob, Georgia and Vinnie, and Jane and John just doors away, plus Chris and Denise and Dale virtually just around the corner, we are HOME! Our time in Ocean City became more and more our real life, and when I retired in January of 2016, there was no doubt in our minds that 854 Pennlyn would become our full time home. No longer would we rent our home to others, and Susie would no longer have to play hide and seek with our pots and pans and other objects when we reclaimed it after rental season. This would be our one and always forever home, but what about the Mineola house???
As I’m sure you know, anybody who has lived in a house for 31 years, and raised 3 kids there, has also collected a lot of memories and “stuff”! Early on, we realized that the memories were in our head, and would always be ours to cherish (Krissi and Kenny had a little trouble with that concept in the beginning), but the “stuff” needed to be dealt with! We had an attic, a finished basement, a garage, a back porch, and a full dining room! Furniture, dishes, pots and pans, photo albums, slides, videos, childhood mementos (from us and the kids), clothing, bedding, and just about anything else you can think of, had to be organized and taken care of. Thank God the great garbage men of Mineola will take just about everything, because boy did we give them “stuff” over the next 22 months! Even we didn’t believe the stupid things we discovered that we’d saved for years! The items we found in the 5 drawer file cabinet we had in the basement, proved that the only reason we saved some of it was because we had a place to put it! What a collection of crap, but there was also a lot of good things!
When my Mom died 8 years ago, and we sold her house, we had a company come in and run a Tag Sale, and we figured we’d do the same thing with our house. We contacted the woman who did my Mom’s sale, and she said we didn’t have enough stuff for her company, but referred us to a smaller company who she thought would handle it. When the woman who ran that company said that she couldn’t help us, we realized we’d have to come up with a plan B. We’d donate we thought! Well, we were able to take care of some of the small items with organizations like Vietnam Veterans, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, but we still had a house full of furniture. Luckily Krissi and her boyfriend Mike were moving into a brand new apartment, so some small things went that way, but for the rest, nobody wanted it! See, we were aging Baby Boomers who were downsizing, and trying to get rid of a lifetime of possessions. Turns out, we were not alone, as a large percentage of our fellow Baby Boomers were doing the same thing! Our kids didn’t want our “stuff”, and neither did most of the usual sources. In the end, we had to pay somebody to empty our house, and although some of the stuff just got trashed, Rosario, who did the work, had better contacts than we did, and he managed to place some of our beloved pieces (like our first ever new dining room set, which Susie had a lot of trouble parting with) with some deserving families. We got a tax deduction, pieces we loved didn’t go to a landfill, and in the end, we were happy, and more importantly, the house was empty!
And why did we have such a need to empty out the house? Well, because in the blink of an eye, the Mineola house had found a buyer! Our Mineola house was built in 1928, and was old, old, old. Sure, we’d done things over the years, like redoing a bathroom, replacing the roof, updating the furnace and water heater, changing the windows, and building a new front porch, but raising three kids only left so much money to go towards updating an old house. There had been a lot of tear downs in our immediate neighborhood in recent years, and that’s what we assumed would happen to 40 Fairfield Avenue….but we were wrong! Unbeknown to us, Mineola had become a hot housing market, and when it became known that we were thinking of selling, 4 possible buyers lined up. When the first fell away because her husband lost his job, Susie called the second….a teacher that she used to hire as a sub at Hampton Street School, and whose cousin lived across the street from us. She, her husband, father, and kids came to take a look at the house one afternoon, and by 9 that night, we’d agreed on a price! No real estate agent, no commission, no listing on the market, no signs or advertising, no endless parade of potential buyers wandering through the house. If we’d known it was going to be so easy, we probably would have done it sooner than 22 months after I retired!
Perhaps it was so easy, because in the end we asked for a reasonable price, which worked out well for everyone. We left some money on the table for the new owners to use to improve the house, and we were happy with what they paid, as we were able to pay off the existing mortgage (we’d refinanced the house 3 or 4 times, but that’s a story for another day). In addition, we were able to recoup all of the money we’d spent on a house we really had not been using that much since I retired. On Thursday, November 9th, 2017, at a law office on Mineola Blvd, we closed on a house that had been our home for 31 years. A new beginning for us, a new beginning for the buyers, and a new beginning for 40 Fairfield Avenue!
Since then, Susie and I have surrendered our New York Driver’s licenses, and officially became New Jersey residents. We have New Jersey Driver’s Licenses, our cars have NJ license plates, we’re registered to vote here, and we will never again make mortgage payments to Wells Fargo, or pay a bill from Cablevision, National Grid, PSEG Long Island, Allstate Insurance, or the guy who cut our lawn! You have no idea how that all adds us..especially since my WABC paychecks stopped! But now that those bills are gone, and we replaced the money that we’d taken out of our savings to cover the Mineola bills. We can definitely find better ways to spend those savings…for our enjoyment!
So, starting on or about February 9th, Susie and I are embarking on a three plus week road trip to the Sunshine State! Looking for some February warmth, and visiting places we haven’t been since we did a similar trip with the kids over 20 years ago, is a much better way to spend a cold February, than deciding what to save and throw out, at a house you no longer call home! Stay tuned, and hop on board, Sue and Frank D’Elia are about to embark on another road trip! See you in February, on Interstate 95, headed South!!