When we were looking to buy our first house, my husband and I had a short list of deal-breakers. He didn't want to be on a bus line. I didn't want it to be haunted, a reasonable request.
A haunted house may sound absurd if you don't believe in ghosts, but what I really meant was I didn't want creepy rooms, mysterious cold spots, creaky doors that open and shut on their own. Mostly, though, I didn't want a place that held the immense sadness of lives lived there before. I wanted a cheerful place, a place with optimism and humble dreams.
We found that place, a modest pink 1939 bungalow with striped awnings. The owner had bought the house from a family who'd owned it since 1949. And they'd purchased it at auction and moved it away from a soon-to-be-built freeway to an empty lot a few blocks away.
But we wondered about the original owners. Who lived in our house when it was where the freeway now stands?
After we moved here, I learned the history of our city. I went to historical talks. I read everything I could find and I talked to long-time residents. What I pieced together was heartbreaking.