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Buyers Seek Out House of Their Youth

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By Kathleen Lynn

Friendly Neighborhood: Mary Jo Freebody spent her earliest years in tight-knit neighborhoods in Grand Haven, Mich., and Evanston, Ill. The houses weren’t fancy — small Cape Cods and colonials — but the sidewalks and streets were canopied by tall trees. Later, as her father became more successful, her family moved to bigger houses, in neighborhoods where the trees weren’t as tall and the neighbors weren’t as warm.

Years later, married with children and living in New Jersey, Freebody and her husband decided to move to Glen Rock, N.J. On Sunday afternoons, they would drive around looking for open houses. One day, they drove down Amherst Court, a street of tall oaks and small colonial homes.

The street immediately recalled her childhood homes, but there were no for-sale signs on any of the lawns. When she and her husband got home, they checked The Record and spotted an ad for a house on Amherst Court. They visited the property and quickly made an offer.

“We have been here for 27 years, and it is still my dream house,” says Freebody, a retired teacher. “We have tall trees. We can walk to town. Our neighbors are our closest friends. Our grandchildren help us plant flowers, and they collect acorns from the old, tall oak trees.

“In spite of the many changes in the world, I have recaptured a piece of my very happy childhood.”

Closet Space: Sal Falciglia III has a “lot of great memories” of growing up with his parents and brother in a bi-level in Ramsey, N.J. But the house had one big problem: tiny closets.

“We had the twice-a-year clothing shuffle,” Falciglia recalled. “My dad would call each of us to empty out our bedroom closets and bring all that season’s clothes up into the attic and take back down the next season’s clothes.”

To get more storage, his father eventually converted half of the two-car garage into a pantry and two closets. But that created a new issue: His father had to park his car outside, and Falciglia had to help him clear off the snow in the winter.

“So when it was time for me to buy a house, I refused to be in a house where a car needed to be outside,” Falciglia says. “My wife and I bought a center-hall colonial” in Midland Park, N.J.

The home has “large closets, and plenty of them.” No more clothing shuffle.

Apartment Dwellers: Phyllis Palley grew up in an apartment in Brooklyn, but after she married, she moved in 1964 to a single-family house in Ramsey — which felt like “the ends of the earth.”

She hated gardening, raking leaves and shoveling snow, so when her marriage broke up, she moved to an apartment. When she remarried, she and her new husband, who had grown up in an apartment in Manhattan, moved to a condo in River Vale, N.J., where they feel right at home.

“It is how we both grew up,” says Palley, a library consultant and retired library director. “No weeds, no leaves, no shoveling snow.”

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