February 15, 2021

Santa Anita Drive interior, Starkville, MS (1969)
Manuel Drive interior, Nashville, TN (2021)


When I spotted this random 1969 photo of the living-dining area in our Starkville home, I was struck by its similarities to my current Nashville home. This Manuel Drive house was built in 1956, probably within a year or so of the Starkville house.  It was the first home Tom and I bought and where we lived when Heather was born.  Our Starkville physician, Dr. Leonard Brandon, his wife Rachel and their four children lived there before us.  They built the house and even as their family grew, still loved it.  A ranch style house, it had two bedrooms plus a pine-paneled den (which they used for the boys’ bedroom), a kitchen, one bathroom and the familiar living-dining area L-shaped room.  The see-through room dividers made it feel more like two distinct areas—living room and dining room.  The Nashville house has the same basic layout.

After I moved to Nashville for my job downtown, I bought the Manuel Drive house in late 2002.  It too had only one previous owner.  Elizabeth Long and her late husband had built the house in 1956.  She’d remodeled several rooms and loved the house and her flower beds.

It’s somehow comforting to know who built the house you live in—especially when they were the only previous owners and enjoyed living there.  We had the same experience when we bought our first home in Columbia in 1970.  The couple who had built our Macgregor Drive Cape Cod two-story house with its living room bay window and a front sidewalk that curved around a huge oak tree in the yard sold it to us for the same price it cost them to build it! They liked the idea of another young family with children living there again.

When I visited Patrick’s family in Mississippi at Thanksgiving, 2017, we drove to Starkville for a day—the first time I had been there since we moved away in 1969.  We drove by the little house on Santa Anita Drive and saw the owner sitting outside.  She was very gracious to show us around and took this photo of us in front of the house!  She was an English instructor at Mississippi State and said one of Dr. Brandon’s granddaughters had been her Teaching Assistant one semester.  The student brought her grandmother (Rachel Brandon) by to see her old home—which she still remembered fondly. 

The front exteriors of the Starkville and Nashville houses are also similar!  These compact and sturdy houses are lovely places to live.

With Patrick, Ezra, Sam, Eli and Julia in 2017
Santa Anita Drive, Starkville, MS
Manuel Drive, Nashville, 2002

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