TIME TRAVEL: My First Apartment

This is the first of what may be many Time Travel posts. 

If this post only gets a few comments I may not likely continue the series, as this will evidence a lack of interest. So, if you enjoy this post, let me know by commenting! It is not like anything I have ever posted before.

This post took an absurd amount of time as I had to find old images buried away, and recall old memories muffled by time.

 

1975.

What a year that proved.

For, in 1975:

  • I turned 18!
  • I graduated high school!
  • I came out to my mother as gay! She was not happy!
  • I got my first job!
  • I moved out of the family home and into my own apartment!

I was free free free!

Oh, it was glorious. But, it is only in retrospect that I can appreciate the enormity of 1975. At the time, I had little idea that it would unfold as one of the most important and significant years in my life.

 

High school me. I looked OK. I did not feel OK.

 

Mt childhood was…

..painful.

I endured endless, vicious abuse from my bother, Tommy, who was four years older. One, he almost suffocated me to death, and then kicked me so hard, repeatedly, that I recoiled up in pain. For many years, I had a permanent bruise on my upper left arm because he endlessly punched me, hard, always saying: “You’re so stupid!”

My dad, Tom, was distant to an extreme and radiated hostility. Every night, when he came home, the hard slam of the front door announced to us kids: scurry away! Living with an angry father was like living with land mines under the wall-to-all carpeting. We never knew when an explosion would occur so we lived in constant dread.

I had then, and still have, what is called restless arm syndrome, whereby I often bang my arm on the bed while I sleep. My sister, Dede, had restless leg syndrome. But my dad never went after her. But me? He would wake in the early morning to go to work and, hearing me bang the mattress, would storm into my bedroom and ram his fist into my side so powerfully that I would be winded. He would growl: “Stop that!” He would then walk out as I writhed in pain. This went on for years.

There was also the horror of school. When I was very young I was slightly effeminate. You can imagine the abuse I received from schoolmates. “Faggot! Sissy! Queer!” When I reached puberty this abuse, at least, largely stopped as the effeminate mannerisms somehow fell away.

And then there was, I think, a sexual abuse incident from my father’s mother when I was six. Her name was Gerry. I will not detail this.

Then, when I was about twelve, my siblings and I were sitting at the dining table in Gerry’s kitchen with my grandfather. We were all laughing at some story granddad had just made. With no warning, Gerry picked up my plate, filled with mashed potatoes and peas, and shoved it in my face, screaming: “Stop laughing! Why are you always laughing! STOP LAUGHING!”

The whole table went silent. Then my siblings started to giggle. So did Gerry, as peas and mashed potatoes dripped from my horror-stricken face. Grandad though slammed his fist on the table and, in a low, quiet, but deadly serious voice, said: “Gerry, take Ross upstairs and clean him up. Now.”

The tittering stopped. None of us had ever heard granddad talk like that to Gerry.

And so this, this, was my childhood. An endless parade of violence, humiliation, fear, and sexual abuse.

Then came 1975. And everything suddenly got better.

 

My abusive brother, Tommy, who destroyed my childhood, had moved out several years before. So, at least that abuse had stopped. My dad, due to a lack of work in Florida, had temporarily moved to Houston where there was plenty of work. So, that abuse, too, stopped. Thus, by the summer of 1975, it was just my mother, my sister, me, and my younger brother living at home.

Even though I was now 18, and working, my mother demanded that I be home every night by 11PM. I kept explaining that the disco clubs where I was now dancing the nights away did not close until 2AM. So, I would not be home until maybe 3AM. Or, as I did not fully explain, until the early morning if I, ahh, met up with some attractive man.

Me: “I’m an adult! I’ll come home when I want!”

Her: “As long as you live in my house, you’ll live by my rules!”

This was, of course, the exact argument played out between a young adult and a parent for thousands of years.

I kept thinking that my mom would become more amendable on the subject but she did the opposite. She dug her heels in. As such, during the summer of 1975 we bitterly fought as I ignored the 11PM rule. I had spent a lifetime enveloped and brutalized by fear. Yet, during the summer of 1975, I had discovered a whole new reality. It was as if I had found the door to Narnia. Stepping through, I found that I no longer had to hide who I was, and no longer needed to “fit” with expectations about who I should be. Most profoundly, I no longer had to be afraid.

In the summer of 1975, stepping into a disco full of men just like me was glorious. For the first time I felt like I belonged. For the first time I felt safe. For the first time I felt accepted for who and what I was.

I was not going to curtail this, 11PM be damned.

 

During yet another epic fight, while standing in the kitchen, my mother screamed: “If you’re going to live in my house, you WILL live by my rules!”

I instantly calmed down. Because I had two bombs to drop.

Gently, I replied: “I’ve been giving all this a lot of thought. I’ve never disagreed with your establishing rules, and I do understand that it IS your house.”

My mother looked startled.

“It bothers me though that you’ve been unwilling to change the rules based on new conditions.”

“It doesn’t matter that you’re now 18. My rules are my rules!”

Again, I calmly said: “Yes, I understand that finally.”

My mother started to look victorious but this expression did not fully realize. I got the impression she was thinking: Have I won? She did not look sure. Mostly, she looked confused. And wary. “Well…I’m…glad about that.”

During all these arguments we both had been studiously ignoring the elephant sitting right next to us. For, we both knew that all the sound and fury was not really about a curfew. It was about me being gay. And of consorting with—EEK!!!!!!!—homosexuals.

Yep. EEK!!!!!!!

I continued, dropping bomb #1: “So, while I agree that you’ve a right to establish rules, if I decline to live by such rules the only option is that I move into my own place.”

My mother stared at me. It appeared that she could not process what I’d just said. “What?”

“I signed a lease today on an apartment, and will be moving out right away.”

Again, she just stared at me for what seemed like a long while. “What?”

“I think you heard me. I’m moving out.”

And, with that, she erupted. She screamed, cursed me, and kept saying: “You’ve no right! You can’t do that!”

I remained calm. “Actually, I do have the right. And I can move. Again, I signed a lease.”

Then I dropped what I knew would be an even bigger bomb. “And Dede is moving in with me.”

“WHAT????????”

“Dede is moving in with me.”

She blinked furiously and then, without a word, stormed off and into my sister’s bedroom where a fight of terrifying intensity played out.

 

Soon, Dede and I were in our own apartment. We had been allowed to take our clothes but nothing else. Not our beds, dressers, or even clothes hangers. “If you didn’t pay for that, it’s not yours.”

I barely spoke to my mother for a year.

 

The apartment was a 2-bedroom at 1665 22nd Avenue North, and built in 1936. The building was only two units, one down, one up. Mine was the up one. The building looked nothing like this in 1975. It was profoundly shabby at the time. However, this did not matter to me because all I saw was what the apartment represented: Freedom. Glorious, magical, wondrous freedom.

 

The building was highly curious in being set back right against the alley. This is where I parked, and this is the view I mostly saw. The huge front yard was nothing but dead grass and scrubby bushes. Today, the yard looks much better and is used mostly for parking with a curb cut to 22nd Avenue.

 

The rent was, I think, $110 a month which Dede and I split. She was religious in having her half of the rent on time. I almost never did. And every month we would have a fight which basically went like this:

Dede: “You don’t have the rent? But you purchased a sofa a few days ago?????”

Ross, nodding dumbly: “Well, yea. But it’s not just any sofa. It’s a fabulous 1940s sofa!”

In short, I was a terrible roommate.

 

The plan from memory.

 

One entered into the sun porch, which in 1975 had original built-in benches and a table where the washer/dryer is now. The room was really cool but I don’t recall ever using it. It also bothered me that it was the entrance. I mean, the place was really shabby but NOT having a foyer? Oh, the horror. So, I hung some old curtains to divide the room so I could have an all-important foyer. Then I used the built-in table and benches for storage. It never occurred to me to ask Dede what she thought about all this. Yes, I was a VERY bad roommate.

 

The kitchen, looking into the sun porch.

 

In 1975, the kitchen retained its original cabinets and sink. They were kinda 1930s cool. But, again, VERY shabby. I do not recall ever cooking in the kitchen. I worked in a restaurant and mostly ate there. Across the street was a Royal Castle so I did a lot of take out, too.

 

Looking west to the bedroom hall, and Dede’s room.

 

The living room, looking north to the kitchen and sunporch. In 1975, the room had knotty-pine paneling, and 12×12 acoustical tiles on the ceiling. None of the trim or doors were painted. Our small black/white TV was on the one wall. No cable. Aerial only. I really only watched it on Saturday nights which were too crowded to go dancing. My ritual was to get take-out from Royal Castle, and curl in on the 1940s sofa to watch the Mary Tyler Moore show, and Carol Burnett after, eating a half-dozen tiny square burgers. Bliss. Bliss!

 

The living room, looking west. On this wall was my grandmother’s 1920s dining room credenza which my mother eventually allowed me to take (it had been in my bedroom). I had the credenza until 1996 when I became homeless. I sold it for $60. Above the credenza was a poster of Bette Midler which I framed (badly). I was sooooooo proud of the poster. On each side of the poster I hung chrome Art Deco wall sconces. That there was no electricity to them was a moot point. They looked fabulous. Art Deco, baby! The door to the left opened to the screen porch. Hanging from the ceiling was my proudest possession: A 1920s polychrome chandelier from the…

 

…Pompeii Dining Room of the Vinoy Park Hotel. No, it was not one of the huge center chandeliers, but…

 

…one of the smaller chandeliers bordering the room. The bottom was a glass bowl with a gorgeous classical design etched in. Above, were numerous “candles”. From the ceiling canopy came down strands of crystals, kissing the candles. And all the metal retained its original verdigris green finish. Oh, and note the drapery. I will come back to them.

 

That fall, the Vinoy Park had closed and had an auction. I snapped up everything I could.

Dede was not happy. “So, you don’t have the rent this month because you purchased a chandelier?????”

Well, umm, yes. But it was not just any chandelier! It was a chandelier from the Pompeii Dining Room of the Vinoy Park Hotel! How could Dede not understand the importance of this? The rarity of this? The monumental convergence of events enabling the chandelier to be…mine. Did she not understand cosmic destiny? With such forces at work, what did rent matter?

(The chandelier went with me to New York City, where I sold it in 1979 to buy food. Big mistake. The chandelier warranted hunger.)

 

The living room, as furnished in 1975.

 

There were two areca palm trees behind the sofa. I under-lighted these with 7W bulbs.

There were also three 1920s floor lamps in the room, all with silk shades dripping with fringe. Also all with 7W bulbs.

The Pompeii Dining Room chandelier hung in the center with, yep, more 7W bulbs. I couldn’t read in the room at night but it all sure looked dramatic.

I never turned off the lights which caused Dede no end of consternation.

She: “You’re wasting electricity!”

Me: “They’re only 7W bulbs! How much electricity is that per month? Nothing!”

I did this because I loved coming home, particularly with a, ahh, new acquaintance, and walking into an always dramatically lighted room.

The windows all had…

 

…curtains from the ballroom of the Vinoy Park Hotel. See the three windows at the far end?

 

I was able to buy those three. The curtains for the arched-topped windows had already been sold.

 

The sofa was wonderfully 1940s and retained its original gold on gold damask pattern in reasonable condition. It was an extremely expensive piece in its day, and the long seat cushion was down-filled. Sadly, the design of the legs, which dramatically flared out, were unstable and the two back legs had long ago broken off. I use bricks to hold the sofa up.

Adjacent, was a 1940s chair in a highly stylized wingback style. It was covered with burgundy Naugahyde. But, this has a tear on the seat. One day I came across a white rabbit fur at the flea market. Coming home, I glued the fur to the Naugahyde, covering the tear. Problem solved! Yet, every time somebody went to sit on the chair they would tug at the rabbit fur, thinking it should be removed. I would shriek: “No! That’s supposed to be there!”

There was a rug on the floor which a friend gave me. It was an Oriental-style rug but astonishingly threadbare. The main color was dark blue.

The TV sat atop a tall 1930s radio which, amazingly, still worked.

The dark lighting helped disguise that everything was shabby, scratched, tattered, and worn. It was however intensely dramatic and within a few months, as I would be dancing the night away in a disco, some attractive man would approach and ask: “I hear that you’ve got a really wild living room.” Then, looking me up/down, and leering: “I’d love to…see it.” And, off we would go to the perpetually lighted parlor.

 

One Saturday, while enjoying my ritual stay-home-night with Royal Castle, I was laying down on the 1940s sofa watching Mary Tyler Moore, alone in the apartment. Then something hopped onto my belly. My hands flew into the air, and my cola and fries went flying. I was scared to death. WHAT had just happened? WHAT was on me? Had a rat dropped from the attic somehow?

I looked down.

A cat was on my belly, looking at me.

I looked back.

Dede and I did not have a cat.

“Hello.”

The cat rubbed its head on my belly.

How did the cat get in? How long had it been inside?

The cat never responded to these questions. But, it seemed, I had my first cat. Or, rather, a cat had me for the first time.

It would not be the last time. Sigh.

 

The bathroom was really tiny. In one corner was a shower, with full-height walls on three sides, making the toilet feel really squeezed in.

 

Dede’s room.

 

My room. I painted it a deep burgundy. None of the trim was painted. There was a double window on the large wall, looking into the screen porch, now covered over.

 

Remember the Pompeii Dining Room? See the drapes along the wall to the right? I purchased…

 

…all those, including the black valances. I used two sets of these in my bedroom. Another set was used to create the “foyer”.

 

In 1975, this was a screen porch, running the length of the apartment. It was dark (due to metal shutters) and hot. I used it for storage.

 

I no longer recall how long I lived in the apartment. Six months? After I left, my sister stayed for several years until she (and her then husband) purchased a house. I have no memory of visiting the apartment after I left.

My memories though of the apartment remain vivid. This was the place where I, for the first time, felt like I could be myself. This was, for the first time, a place where I felt no threat of being abused.

(In 2003, the two units sold for $43,000. Three years later they sold for an astonishing $223,000. I assume this is when the building was fully updated, as seen in the above pictures.)

 

Looking back, and inviting ancient memories to come out from dark corners and say hello, I am appalled at my so-very-young self.

In the bathroom, the tiny stall shower was missing numerous tiles. It never occurred to me to repair this, something I would do today, STAT. It never occurred to me to clean the many windows, all filmed over with grime. Today, these would all be cleaned week one. In my bedroom, the paint was peeling off the walls. I simply scraped and repainted. In gloss paint, which highlighted every scar. Today, I would skim coat the room before priming and painting. The kitchen, as mentioned, had kinda cool 1930s cabinets which needed attention. I ignored them because I could have cared less about the kitchen as it was not a decorating opportunity (or so I thought). Today, I would carefully clean the wood cabinets with Murphy’s oil soap, remove all the chrome hardware, polish it, and reinstall.

And so on.

Young Ross was only concerned about getting an immediate return on decorating glory. In short, I was more into stage design than real life.

I recall one young man that I got together with on a semi-regular basis. He had a total nerd thing going on which I found quite attractive (still do) and after we had some, ahh, ahh, conversation on the 1940s sofa, he looked around the room, at Bette, at the over-the-top Vinoy drapes, at the fraying upholstery, and asked me: “Have you ever moved a single piece of furniture to clean behind?”

I did not understand the question. My stage set was complete. Why pull it apart to…clean?

Still, although I had no response to the question, it nagged at me. Deeply. And, as things would prove, that question—a single question—would have a profound impact on me which manifested in my second apartment.

 

Looking back, I realize that there is a big difference between 18 (my age at the time) and 20 (Dede’s age). When I reached 20, I was vastly more adult about rent and bills and responsibility. At 18, I was still a child, used to having thing provided for me. Two years later I had learned to understand that, oh, I really was on my own. With each passing year I grew ever-more into adulthood in terms of understanding responsibility and I cringe at the torment I caused my sister.

 

In writing this post, I kept thinking of how extraordinary life in 2020 is, and at how things now common would have seemed impossibly magical in 1975. Like, these words are being composed on a computer. A computer sitting on my desk in my home. The machine is connected to the internet. Once finished, this story will be published on my blog. The images were taken by my smart-phone.

Personal computer. Internet. Blog. Smartphone. All things unimaginable in 1975. Indeed, at the time I thought getting a touch-tone phone was the epitome of technology!

In 1975, I did not initially even have a car after moving into the apartment. I still rode a bike. The apartment was on 22nd Avenue North. My job was on 22nd Avenue South. So, forty-four blocks, twice a day. Then, my bike was stolen. Some days, when I could not beg a ride, I had to walk to work. Why I did not rent an apartment close to work is beyond me as my life would have been vastly easier.

 

Top arrow: apartment. Bottom arrow: work.

 

I have no memory of a phone in the apartment. There was certainly no vacuum. The small TV, as mentioned, was black/white. Dede’s stereo was on the credenza.

Yet, my life felt luxurious as having my own place was the best thing that had happened to me.

 

In 1975, I was young, scared, scarred, and, well, an idiot. In 1975, it was unfathomable that coming out as gay would eventually become mostly OK during my lifetime, and that there would be hit TV shows starring gay characters like Will & Grace. And marriage equality? Unimaginable. Ludicrous, even.

Forty-five-years later, I am old, not scared of much, still deeply scarred though, and being an idiot is now an occasional thing rather than a constant. I glory in how much better things are for the LGBTQ community yet I still have seared into my memory a conversion I had with my mother in 1991. We were talking about some movie and I said this about the main actor: “He’s soooo sexy!”

Her: “You know, I hate when you do that.”

“Do what?”

“Talk about men that way. It’s disgusting.”

Me, stunned: “Huh?”

“You know perfectly well what I’m talking about. Ever since you told me you were gay, you’ve always assumed I was OK with that.”

Me, stunned: “You never offered a word of disapproval. Not once, doing all these years. So, I thought you were cool with it.”

Her, spitting out the words: “And that is what so infuriates me. You mistook silence for approval.”

I gasped. “You mean you don’t…approve of the fact that I’m gay?”

“No. I never have. I think your lifestyle choice is disgusting.”

“Choice? Lifestyle?”

“Yes, choice. You’ve always liked doing the contrary thing. So you chose a disgusting lifestyle.”

I felt punched in the stomach. “My being gay isn’t a choice. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s an orientation. I was born this way.”

Her, rolling her eyes into her head: “It’s a choice. And you chose to be gay. And this disgusts me.”

I paused. Then, I calmly asked: “And at what age did you choose to be a heterosexual?”

“What? What a ridiculous question. I never chose to be a heterosexual. I was born this way!”

My only response was a raised eyebrow. She didn’t get it.

That conversation was in 1991. The following year my mother, father, and sister did something to me which was so horrific, so shocking, that I pulled away from my family and became what I call a voluntary orphan. I have not spoken to them since. What they did led directly to my losing everything and becoming homeless in early 1996. What they did led directly to my improbable move to rural Kansas. What they did was THE shattering event in my life, a life which has had numerous shattering events.

 

In looking back to 1975, I hardly recognize myself, and the times. Yet, 1975 is powerfully imprinted upon my memory. Moving into my first apartment, my life made a sudden lurch from suffocation to freedom and I relished this.

What I would give today to have my young body back. But…I would never want my young brain back. I treasure my mature brain, mature sensibilities, mature sense of history, and…calm. My aging body aside, I am happy with who I am today, and of the times I now live in (the current political horror notwithstanding).

Sometimes, I fantasize about old me being able to whisper into the ear of young me. “Don’t do that!” “Beware of this new friend!” And so on. Such whispers through time would have made my young life easier, and many idiocies could have been avoided.

They say that youth is wasted on the young. This made no sense to me when I was young.

It makes perfect sense today.

 

 

107 Comments

  1. Jackie on July 25, 2020 at 11:11 pm

    Ross. I’d be honoured to hear more about your journey. If you enjoy writing these posts, please continue to do so.

    Also, I’m so glad to hear that you seem to have found peace and happiness.

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 1:46 am

      Thank you, Jackie!

      My life is not really peaceful! It is quite stressful.

      I am though happier than I’ve ever been. I would however like to have a fabulous husband! Being partnered has always been a mostly elusive reality for me, and I wonder if I just have too much scar tissue.

  2. Victoria Jones on July 25, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    Well Ross thinks raw and perfect. I love history. I research the people who have lived in my old house. I love to learn their lives.

    The man who built my house in 1885 was a newspaper man. He was a writer. He was a war correspondent in the Civil War. He lived a rich and exciting life.

    How do I know all this? I looked him up in the local library. And although I couldn’t check out the hand typed book that he wrote of his life. They keep the book in a glass case under lock and key. I spent several hours taking pictures of each page of that book.

    The joy I get in learning of his life is very much the same joy I get reading this snippet of your life.

    You live still but your story is exciting and magical. It has heartbreak and it has love. I am sure of you wrote the book of your life your followers here and many others would cherish it.

    You are a good writer. But the part we would cherish is the good man underneath it all. Despite the hard things you have dealt with in your life you have come out with integrity and honor.

    Thank you for sharing your life with us. I hope someday to be able to shake your hand and look into your eyes and thank you in person for sharing it with me and all others who read your words.

    Thank you for being you.

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 1:48 am

      Thank you, Victoria. Thank you.

  3. Bonnie Graham on July 25, 2020 at 11:18 pm

    I am so sorry for young Ross. If going through what was a horrible childhood made you who you are today then we are blessed. Older Ross seems like a warm, intelligent, empathetic, hard working man whom anyone would want as a partner, brother, son or friend. I love your writing and have missed it of late. So keep writing and I’ll keep enjoying what you’ve written .

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 1:53 am

      Bonnie! You make my bald head blush!

      The idea for this post came about because I worried that y’all might be getting bored with the endless Inching Along posts about shingles! Shingles!

      Even I’m bored with shingles!

      So, I wondered if inserting non-house posts would be of interest to y’all.

    • Linda A. on August 1, 2020 at 12:01 am

      Ross, I too love hearing your time travel stories, though I am sad to hear of the tough, scary childhood you had to deal with growing up. As a child of an alcoholic father, my life was encapsulated in fear, shame, not feeling safe, always waiting for the other shoe to drop, uncertainty and sadness mingled with anger. I think they call us “dandelions” because we may grow in bad conditions but we don’t wilt and die. We keep on going and thrive.

      I have 3 sons, and after my middle boy graduated from college, he called me on the phone to tell me he was gay. Well, everybody was floored because we all watched too many t.v. Shows and movies that portray gay men to all be overly effeminate which was not the case with my son. From the time he told me, I never could have loved him less. He was still my Nick….My smart, funny boy who laughed at all my jokes and who could make me laugh so hard I cried. I just feared that life would be hard for him here in small town, rural America as a teacher. He had told his closest friends years before, and those guys were the best. They just didn’t care and treated him and loved him no differently which I was so proud of them for. Their generation Is not hung up on these labels or choices as my baby boomer generation is…Thank God! And I thank God for all my boys everyday.

      So Ross, I felt some of the same feelings you felt as we climbed out of that mess they called childhood, and though I sometimes miss things that were taken away from me as a child to get to be a child, I try to tell myself that my parents did the best the could at the time ( and that wasn’t saying much some days) But I did have a mother who I was blessed to be born too who was my saving grace. And now I help take care of her as she suffers with Alzheimer’s disease. Life can be tough around every corner, but your blog makes all of your readers’ lives brighter and keeps us dandelions growing. So thanks!

  4. David Balch on July 25, 2020 at 11:22 pm

    Ross, thank you so much for taking the valuable time to make this post. This is my favorite “non house” post you’ve ever done. I love getting to know you and hope for many, many more of this nature. What a valuable insight and so beautifully written. I must admit, I felt a bit of a kindred spirit. So touching. 🙂

    Forgive the maybe somewhat inappropriate aside you are about to read but, geeze, “you are handsome”.

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 1:54 am

      David, I’m a firm believer in inappropriate asides!

      I also adore kindred spirits!

      BIG hug!

  5. bjh on July 25, 2020 at 11:39 pm

    Yes, please. Keep writing the time travel series. There are no words to convey how very much it breaks my heart that you suffered such trauma from those who should have protected, loved, and cared for you. Telling your story can lead to restoration and peace. It has for me. But it takes great courage, which you have. Thank you for trusting us with your story. Thank you for restoring the Cross House so meticulously and well. Blessings, my precious friend.

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 1:57 am

      Thank you for your kind words, bjh.

      You made me tear up!

  6. Merav on July 25, 2020 at 11:51 pm

    I was heartbroken to read this. I am so so sorry you had to go through all this and that you are still scarred from it. I was reading your post sitting next to my seven-year-old son on our balcony (in Israel) and trying to imagine how, as an adult, you could get to a state in which you see such an innocent child as deserving of violence. It is incomprehensible to me although I know it often happens. Good for you for escaping all that at such an early age, and who cares if you were not responsible enough to clean or pay rent. You were responsible enough to protect your life and sense of self and that is a great achievement. Take care!

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 1:59 am

      Thank you, Merav.

      It amazes me to think my posts can reach people across the globe. Thrilling, too!

      Your son is lucky to have you as a parent. A big hug to you both!

  7. Cody H on July 25, 2020 at 11:58 pm

    I am living for these types of posts. They’re personal. They’re deep. Raw, and unfiltered. I see so much of myself in your own reflections of your youth, and hearing you pull through all the ups and downs gives me hope for my own life. We’ve shared quite a few growing-up experiences. A shit show childhood makes for an ill-prepared adult, but you made it work, as am I now. Every day is a learning experience. I LOVE how being tossed out into the world forced me to find my independence. I take pride in having become so self sufficient in such a short window.

    I’ve never sacrificed my rent money for a prospective treasure…but I’ve definitely eaten ramen for a week for a few choice items before. I get it. Sometimes you just HAVE TO HAVE THE PRETTY, FABULOUS THING at any cost. I take pleasure in surrounding myself with beautiful objects.

    Please keep this series going! I’m here for these posts nearly as equally as the Cross House posts! Your blog is my favorite old house blog for one big, glaring reason; over the years, you’ve let some of us get to know you on a very personal level. Myself and a few others are not just here for the pretty posts of the finished rooms. We’re here for YOU, Ross. I so so SO much enjoy every moment of time that you’ve given to me personally, and to this blog.

    PS – 18 year old you could have posed for an Ambrosia Album cover. That head of hair had to be HOT in Florida!

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 2:09 am

      Cody! You made me Google Ambrosia Album!

      And then I burst out laughing!

      Your comments also make me think of two blogs I follow:

      http://balintorecastle.blogspot.com

      https://georgianrenovation.blogspot.com

      In each case, the bloggers offer only scant information about Who They Are. Yet, I so admire their dedication and perseverance that I yearn to learn about them. Yearn! Sigh.

      In fact, my frustration about their lack of personal information/personality has impacted how I write my blog.

      One of my favorites blogs is largely due to how much the author reveals herself:

      https://victoriaelizabethbarnes.com

    • Dan Goodall-Williams on July 26, 2020 at 12:37 pm

      Completely agree with you!

  8. Kelly P. on July 26, 2020 at 1:07 am

    I enjoyed your post very much. Like you, I have been thinking about the early years of be young and gay. My first house was old, run down, and very cheap. But man it sure was over decorated, with 7W bulbs on 24 hrs a day. I still have those lamps and they are on. Thanks, Ross, for your posts.

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 2:10 am

      Kelly! Do you really also use 7W bulbs?

  9. Stephanie on July 26, 2020 at 1:14 am

    Ross, I’m terribly sorry for the horror you endured from your family. I’m glad you got free.

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 1:27 am

      Thank you, Stephanie.

      Becoming a voluntary orphan was the best thing I’ve ever done. My only regret is that it separated me from my niece, who had no part of what happened.

      • Stephanie on July 26, 2020 at 1:53 pm

        Abuse does so much harm to families. I’m sorry for your loss and hers.

        I wasn’t strong enough to become an ‘orphan’ until a couple of years ago. It’s the best thing I’ve done but devastating nonetheless. Also separated from nieces who had no part in what happened and do not know the truth.

        Thank you for sharing this part of your life, Ross. I think there are a lot of us but rarely safe places to talk about it.

        • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 7:16 pm

          Thank you, Stephanie.

          I agree, there are a lot of us. Sadly.

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 2:27 am

      Thank you, Stephanie.

      While my older brother was a 100% horror, I adored my sister when we were growing up. So, what she did in 1992 was a total shock to me. It’s still shocking.

      And while my angry father brutalized me, there’s a lot about him that I admire. Knowing his mother the way I do, I often think: Geez. What did he endure as an only child?

      While none of us discussed my being gay with my father, looking back, I realize that he was just fine with this. For example, in 1991 I learned that he snapped at his mother for being critical of my sexual orientation.

      I also have a lot of respect for my father in that he worked his ass off to support his family. Even though times were often very difficult (we were once on food stamps) the mortgage always got paid, and not once were any utilities shut off. Looking back, and knowing how little he sometimes made (as a carpenter), particularly during a recession, I have grown ever-more appreciative of his good qualities and suspect that the anger he emanated was largely stress related. If so, my heart goes out to him.

      And my mother? She was, mostly, supportive when I was a child. It was only later that I felt that I no longer knew her. And, by 1992, she was unrecognizable to me.

      • Stephanie on July 26, 2020 at 6:57 pm

        I recognize elements of my own family in this. It’s a complicated mix, isn’t it?

        Do you have any idea what happened with your sister? It’s horrific being terrorized and abused but there are no illusions as to who you’re dealing with. To be blindsided and betrayed by those you thought were safe is a whole other level of painful.

        • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 7:08 pm

          Thank you, Stephanie.

          What you wrote is very true.

          WHAT my family did to me in 1992, as horrific as it was, was overwhelmed by the FACT that they did it.

          I could not get my head around this: My family did this to me? My family?

          That awareness almost did me in.

          • Stephanie on July 27, 2020 at 1:07 am

            Yes, how does one reconcile something like that? I’m glad you survived it, Ross.



  10. David McD on July 26, 2020 at 1:16 am

    Hi. Been reading all your posts over the last couple of months!!, but not commenting. Felt I had to with this one.

    First, thank you for posting this.

    Tho similar and not similar, I knew I had “feelings” that i kept hidden from when I was in kindergarten. I felt my heart skip a beat being around “the boys”, and wanted girls as best friends. Yes, at the age of 5!

    I was raised in a fundamental Christian home, and the kindergarten class was at a Christian school that I attended until 12th grade. I know the Bible very well. Had a father and mother that were extremely well-educated in Gods word. But, my mom didn’t know how to deal with my creative choices—wanting an easy bake oven, a Barbie head with hair that u could comb and style, or the fact that I wanted an ironing board at age 4!

    When I finally told her when I turned 21, she said: “I already knew.” My Dad never passed judgement, just plotted along with me in my life, eventually becoming a great friend to me.

    I feel bad that your family treated you like that. Mine treated me good. What plagued me was that while God has saved and healed me from one massive stroke and numerous, minor small ones, and spoken to me a lot over the years, HE has never answered my question: Why did you make me like this?

    Once, when 16, crying in my room over the guilt I felt over being attracted to men, I asked God: “Please give me something from your word.” His response? Psalm 69. It starts like this: “Save me, oh God, the waters are come in deep unto my soul. My eyes are weary with crying”. That was truly eye-opening. He HAD heard. AND responded! What I felt guilty over was what the Bible teaches about being gay. That it goes against His plan. But, I have NEVER been able to “rid” myself of these feelings. And have had a lot (!!!) of sex adventures in the gay world. And, after all that, I still love God and am still mad at feeling this way.

    Right before I opened my Bible after 20 years, I prayed and asked Him to literally open it to what He wanted me to read…..what did it open to? Romans 1. Where Paul lists a laundry list of all the debauched behavior of Roman society. I felt like I was reading a transcript of my life. I realized we are all sinners before Him, because we ALL have NOT said back to HIM, like Jesus said to his Father when dripping blood from his forehead because He was sooo petrified of going to the cross because He already knew what pain/agony/anguish He would go thru (not only physically, but also spiritually), “Nevertheless, not MY will, but THINE be done.” We all have crosses to bear. This is mine.

    Thank you for being brutally honest. Thank you for your blog. I truly enjoy it!! And, thanks for letting me share my experience with you Ross.

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 1:42 am

      Thank you, David, for your powerful comment. Your parents are rare and wonderful. BIG hug!

      It should be noted that the Bible, for most of its near 2700-year existence, made no mention of homosexuality. Only in the late 19th-century, when homophobia was at an apex, did several passages get re-writen (by men, not by God) to condemn male homosexuality.

      Curiously, even today, there’s zip in the Bible about lesbians!

      And the famous passages about Sodom and Gomorrah, which have been interpreted since the late 19th-century to warn against the “dangers” of homosexuality? These passages are, actually, a warning against the dangers of inhospitality.

      Lastly, I do not agree that we are all sinners. We are all humans. We are not always perfect. What matters though, IMO, is not our imperfections, but rather the glory we are each capable of.

      • Miriam R Righter on July 26, 2020 at 6:32 am

        Exactly right, Ross!

      • David McD on July 27, 2020 at 8:18 am

        Thanx, Ross.

        I’ve truly enjoyed getting to “know” you, the Cross house and your pursuits-your lighting, decorating ideals and etc..

        I still sooo want to come and visit!!!

        It is soooo thrilling and full of hope to restore something or anything to its former, pristine, brand-new condition. Thats what I enjoy about your blog so much. The endless pursuit of “makin things purty”. Lol.

    • Amy Zegunis on July 26, 2020 at 10:54 am

      Thank you for opening up and sharing your journey with us. I too am a voluntary orphan, and want to send a great big virtual hug to you. I know how awful, awful, awful the hurt that leads up to such a decision is. Oh, do I ever. My mother’s heart is also breaking for young Ross, and I am sending all my love to him. I hope it helps to know that you have been a bright spot to me, as well as others, I would guess, during this dumpster fire shit show of the situation we are in now. I was in a very low place when I first found your blog, and it showed me that there were good things out there and to focus on that. I look forward to all your posts (yes, even the ones about the effing shingles). This one though has been my favorite. Thank you again for sharing, and thank you for doing all you do. Much much love and light and all sorts of good vibes to you. I hope that one day I will have the great pleasure of finally seeing the Cross house and you in person!

      • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 11:14 pm

        Amy, it is a special pleasure to meet you.

        Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Sandra D Lee on July 26, 2020 at 3:52 pm

      David McD I am so sorry for Your inner suffering.

      Jesus our Lord was silent about homosexuality.

      Sodom & Gomorrah were destroyed because the6 blasphemed God and wouldn’t keep Gods laws. OT translations were translated by Christian men who spoke English and not those who were Jewish.

      All the old English translations were dated back to Jerome in 400 AD and OT/NT were Greek translations into Latin. Then in 15th C Latin to English (King James). NT was translated from Aramaic into Greek.

      I studied Hebrew as I had a Jewish life 40 years ago. OT mentions in NT do not list LORD (YHWH in Hebrew letters or translated to mean Heavenly Father and Lord which translated from a Hebrew is Adonai or refers to Messiah. Because NT was Greek translated to English or whatever language the particular version).

      Consequently what modern Christians use as basis for condemning are translations that hear little of the original meaning. OT God was vengeful but still loved mankind — all Mankind.

      Old OT law was no longer relevant when the New Covenant or New law thru Jesus & Holy Spirit.

      God loves people — all people. God makes no mistakes. You are loved for yourself as I am loved for myself..& so on.

      It just saddened me because you suffered so.

      I applaud for family for loving you and accepting you.

      I wish you might be happy that you are you and are happy knowing God made you just as He intended.

      Sorry to be so lengthy by I wanted to share my knowledge as I have been a prayer warrior and prayed for and with people. I memorize Scripture. (NIV version is easier to memorize).

      Two verses I use to pray with others:

      “Call on Me in your time of trouble & I will rescue you & you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:15 (both translated from a Hebrew to English)

      “The secret thingS of God (LORD) belong to God & shall be revealed to our children & our children’s children…” Deuteronomy 29:29. (Also translated from Hebrew to English)

      God will rescue us when we call upon him in supplication & we don’t know God’s secrets or why bad things happen to good people— why little children and others are tortured and abused……how these things can be allowed?…. God’s secrets.

      I hope today is a blessed day for you and may you find peace.

      • David McD on July 27, 2020 at 8:00 am

        Sandra,

        Thanx for your kind words! My suffering was and is, internal. No one would ever suspect looking at the “public” me-confident and, some say, quite bold. But, those that go thru this kind of thing tend to BE bold. I think as a way to mask the hurt.

        Like my Mom always said (both my parents are gone-Dad in ’13, Mom in ’15), “All I ever wanted you to know is Jesus’s love”. His love covers all. That’s what is amazing about Him. He suffered death-spiritual and physical for us, so that we might live with Him eternally if we love and believe in Him. Even He said, “If you love me, keep my commandments “. So, it’s really not about what WE want, it’s about submitting OUR wills to His.

        And, Paul talking to, I think, the Corinthians, even said, “Now such (thieves, whores, drunkards, sex fiends, etc) were some of you.” He goes on from there to not condemn them, but to invite and encourage them to forget their trivial behaviors and pursuits and focus on God.

        So, that’s why I said this was my cross to bear.

        • Sandra D Lee on July 27, 2020 at 1:14 pm

          David McD:

          Thanks kindly for your thoughtful words as well. Ross has created such a community of kind and caring folks who admire Ross for his amazing ingenuity, integrity, artistic creativity and all around good person.

          It was so courageous for Ross to reminisce his younger years but also revisit horrors as well.

          It was also the impetus for all of us to share and the courage to revisit our own sufferings and stories.

          Thank you very much for your kindness and thoughtful words.

          I am so thankful for Ross and his fun blog but also to bring together a community of caring people.

    • Stephanie on July 27, 2020 at 1:01 am

      David, thank you for sharing. I wish you well.

      • David McD on July 27, 2020 at 8:06 am

        Thanx Stephanie! You’re sweet!

        This is to u and Ross–

        I, too, found Ross at the beginning of the pandemic. I finally had the time to use my smartphone for what it is-a computer to look things up!

        I’m glad I did. This has been an encouraging journey reading, viewing and getting to know Ross, the Cross house, and all of you.

        I think Ross would LOVE this idea: do I hear group potluck party at the Cross House??? Lol. 😁👍❣

  11. Colin Boss on July 26, 2020 at 1:39 am

    Ross, I can only echo what everyone else said: what a wonderfully written, raw and insightful posting. Like others I love reading your blog; and always enjoy the ‘real Ross’ postings, be they like this one allowing us an insight into how you grew into who you are today; or something political to make us think. I fully intend one day to tour your wonderful Cross house and thank you in person for this, one of my favourite blogs.

    Reading this particular posting made me think of one of my favourite serial novels; Tales of The City, with your description reminding me of Mouse and Mary Ann in their place on Barbary Lane.

    You’ve come far, been through a lot, but remained true to yourself. We all value your postings and devour your blog, so please keep these coming.

    Colin

    PS : I grew up in the late 70s and all the cool older kids looked just like you! My dad made sure my brother and I never had such way out hair (though we both wanted it!!); instead we endured 1950s short back and sides. Seriously uncool then, though not that far from cool-ish now.

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 2:31 am

      It’s true Colin, what was so NOT cool in 1975 is pretty cool today!

      And I’m living for a Colin visit! In part, because I so wanna hear your Scottish accent! My favorite accent!

      • Colin Boss on July 26, 2020 at 3:04 am

        Well, I think in 1975 You must have been the height of cool, certainly the hair and shirt were the epitome of cool in suburban Glasgow that year. All the older kids had taken their inspiration from you, obviously (!) plus probably The Osmonds and Bay City Rollers.

        As soon as I’ve finished my ‘mortgage pay-off & ol house restoration fund’ project here in the Middle East, I’ll be en route to Emporia…expect me say spring 2022 or thereabouts.

        I just re-read the entire post, and in my opinion your sister and parents obviously don’t know what they lost through their actions. You came through it all, built a fascinating life and inspire countless people now. Kudos to you!

        Colin

        PS: Thanks for recommending that Victoria Barnes blog. I also follow the others, the Castle blog is incredible!

        PPS: Have just googled Ambrosia – Yikes! Never heard of them before, but big hair and collars rocked their covers. Cody is right!

  12. David Franks on July 26, 2020 at 3:20 am

    Damn. Although my upbringing didn’t have the constant stringent horror that yours did, I was reminded of the fraughtness of my own childhood and youth, and your approach to occupying your first new digs is quite familiar to me. It seems you work on yourself as you work on the Cross House, and you can’t fully separate the two jobs. You often convey something of yourself in a post even when that is not its purpose. This post is particularly generous in that regard.

    As I read about your first apartment, I saw double-exposures: recollections of my own apartments and houses were superimposed on the photos of your first sanctuary.

    This post was a special treat, as you have made vivid an important part of part of your past and your growth beyond it, and as it was a ticket to my own little trip through time. (Sad to say, I did not get custody of the photo albums.)

    • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 11:17 pm

      Thank you, David.

  13. Marcia on July 26, 2020 at 7:38 am

    This was an amazing, powerful, and I am sure somewhat painful post. I appreciate the time you took to put it together. Your honesty astounds me.

    • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 11:18 pm

      Thank you, Marcia. Your comment means a lot to me.

  14. Susy on July 26, 2020 at 7:52 am

    What struck me from this personal post was how similar my life with my older brother was to yours. It was a constant misery, one that took YEARS to extricate from. I am almost 69 now, haven’t spoken to my brother in over 25 years. He was truly evil in that charming, sadistic way.

    I love that the 18 year old you still exists in your wonder for authentic finishings and is manifested in your online lighting vocation. And that house! That glorious house that you are painstakingly bringing it back to its glory! Thank you for sharing. [Though the photo of the young you–that hairstyle was tragic…]

    • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 11:21 pm

      Susy! I doth protest! My hairstyle at the time was IT!

      Also, a BIG hug to you for surviving your brother. My heart goes out to you. My kitties even send hugs!

  15. SEB on July 26, 2020 at 8:40 am

    I feel a little happier to be alive this morning, reading your post. “In short, I was a terrible roommate” made me laugh. I’m still laughing, writing it. Sometimes I have been the terrible roommate, sometimes I have been the roommate of the terrible. Thank you for this brave, vulnerable, beautiful, and deeply engaging post. Reflecting on your life like this, with honesty and love, encourages the reader to do the same. Deepest gratitude 🙂

    • SEB on July 26, 2020 at 8:47 am

      P.S. The inching along posts are NOT BORING! They are incheresting.

    • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 11:23 pm

      SEB, karma had its way with me.

      While I was a terrible roommate in 1975, I would endure a number of terrible roommates in the years to follow!

  16. RJ on July 26, 2020 at 8:50 am

    Ross, you are never boring, always interesting and informative. I feel like I know you a little better now. Please continue your story. We all need to know your experience, especially those of us with LGBT kids. Thank you.

    • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 11:24 pm

      Thank you, RJ.

      I’m amazed to think I could be of any help to a parent with LGBTQ children. I’m touched.

  17. tura wolfe on July 26, 2020 at 11:24 am

    Thank you for sharing your life story. My childhood was damaged by a borderline personality disorder Mother. Seems your family is completely mind lost to have let such a valuable family member as your self slip away. I agree with what everyone here has said about what a wonderful, special person you are. Over my long years of life, I have had many gay men and women as my best friends. Everyone of those guys brought love, kindness, and marvelous interior design talent and education into my life. Please do continue to share your life stories and, of course, inching along with us. Both are sooooo interesting!

    I wish, pray, hope that your sister will grow in her life path becoming a person with broader views of the world and human beings, so one day you two will hug and once again be the loving brother and sister that moved into that first apartment. And……I would love to read that you have married the man of your dreams! We should all meditate on that very thought…..the power of positive thinking to manifest desired results of a husband for Ross.

    I enjoy your blog everyday and look forward to see what you have written. We may never meet, but you can be sure Ross, that I love you loads, tons, hugs, and kisses!

    • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 11:27 pm

      Thank you, Tura. I feel your hugs and kisses, and return them!

  18. Karyn Semple on July 26, 2020 at 11:37 am

    So much to comment on in this post I don’t know where to start! I loved the picture of a time in your past. Your blog is great not just because the Cross House is a great house but because of your personality and writing ability. Keep sharing the time travel posts please!

    • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 11:27 pm

      Ahhhh, Karyn! You made me tear up!

  19. Mike on July 26, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Wow Ross you shared a glimpse into the most personal and intimate side of yourself. It is saddening to hear about the abuse, but energizing to hear about the release and the self discovery.

    Please continue to share. i think it is valuable for you to ‘speak’ this, as part of a cleansing breath. It also educates us about this interesting and wonderfully obsessed man. The bonus is the more personal connection and view into aspects of life many of us have never experienced first hand.

    Thank you for sharing

    • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 11:28 pm

      Thank YOU, Mike.

  20. Dan Goodall-Williams on July 26, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    Where to begin. I’m 8 years younger than you Ross, also gay, and also suffered sexual abuse. We share some similarities so I have always found your posts meaningful. Even the effing shingles!
    You inspire me in many ways. So if you have the time to share I have the time to read.
    Thank you Ross!

    • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 11:31 pm

      Dan, I know! Those effing shingles!

      Also, a warm embrace for what you have endured. I think it’s important to speak about our stories, yet it’s so painful. So, thank you for your courage.

  21. Brendan on July 26, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    Hi Ross – Like so many others here, I was very much affected by your post. I read it before I went to bed last night but waited until today to respond.

    I, too, was born in 1957, the youngest of four in an Irish Catholic family in NJ. My father was born in Ireland as were both of my mother’s parents. I had a pretty idyllic, if lower middle-class, childhood until I was 12. Then, in one year, we moved from my childhood home town, which was only 8 miles from Manhattan, to a house on a hill in Pennsylvania surrounded by cornfields. My siblings all left the household at that time to go to college, etc., and then, 3 months after the move, my father left my Mom after a 28 year marriage for another woman with 10 kids! (I still say he deserved every one of them!)

    And the worst thing of all, I was hitting puberty and realizing that I was lighter in my loafers than I ever wanted to be. We lived in PA for my freshman year of high school and then moved again (3rd school district in 3 years) in an attempt for my parents to reconcile. They didn’t – my father left again after only 3 weeks – leaving me alone with a mom who grew more unnaturally bitter with each passing year for the next 13 years.

    At the time, I secretly thought I had driven my father away because he had realized I was queer and I swear I had blisters on my fingers from saying rosaries, begging God to make me straight. But still, I wouldn’t have traded any of this for your childhood, no matter what.

    I think what saved my sanity was moving away from home to San Francisco when I was 26. My eyes, and head and heart were opened to amazing new things and liberating ways of thinking. When I arrived there, it was the city of Maupin’s Tales of the City (a book mentioned by another of your readers) – charming, and free-wheeling and joyful and welcoming.

    I lived there 30-years but moved back to New Jersey with my awesome husband so I could finally own a home (an impossibility in SF), to be close to what was left of my family, and once more be able to watch the seasons change. I also felt the responsibility to, in a small way, demonstrate to straight folks that we gays are not all that different then they. I generally let strangers know very early on that I have a husband and it has been my experience that people behave well if they know with whom they are dealing.

    I was outed to my family by an anonymous phone call when I was 19. Over the years, I watched my Mom grow from someone whose only knowledge of issues-gay was seeing a man on the subway in Manhattan during WWII who had painted fingernails – she thought being gay had “something to do with that,” to someone who called me one day and asked, “Brendan, did you choose this or did God make you this way?” I replied by saying, “Mom, tell me about the day you chose to be heterosexual over being gay.” She responded that such a day never happened to which I replied, “Why do you think I would ever choose being someone who was hated and despised by the general public if I actually had a choice? The only choice I ever had to make was if I would be honest about who I really was or would I lie and pretend.” She ended the issue with, “Well if God made you this way, far be it for me to judge what He has done.” For my mom, it was topic closed and I know she went to her grave never again worrying about my immortal soul. It still makes me proud to know that her love for me made sure she arrived at a place where she accepted who I really was.

    Like everyone else here, I savor every posting you make (well except for the kitty ones – my allergies will not allow me to even read about them without searching for my benydril!). You are doing what I have always wanted to do…. find an old house and return it to glory. I don’t have the resources (not to mention the dexterity of shimmying up scaffolding like you seem to have) to actually do it myself, so I assuage my dreams by following your posts. At a time when this pandemic has us unnaturally housebound, every one of your posts provides an escape. Thank you!

    • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 11:33 pm

      Wow, Brendan. Wow. Thank you for sharing YOUR life with all of us. I really enjoyed your stories.

      And…the kitties intend no harm!

  22. Arkay on July 26, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    Ross, not a single thing you’ve written has been boring. This post, however, is probably the most significant one you’ve shared with us. I cannot begin to imagine how horrific your childhood was; that you not only survived but have become the special man you are is a miracle.

    If you want to continue sharing time travel posts, we’ll eagerly await them. For you are no longer an “orphan” — you have a huge virtual family (and sometimes literal, when we can make the trip to visit you and the Cross House.

    So here’s a great big virtual hug from the Texas Hill Country. And please, keep writing.

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 7:15 pm

      Arkay, I’m feeling that big hug from Texas Hill Country!

  23. Karen Spencer on July 26, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    Ross, dear Ross. I waited until I had them to read (“savor”) as another writer aptly called reading your work, and the comments.

    I am so sorry for the pain of your childhood Ross.

    I too suffered in childhood, at the hands of an abusive mother (both mentally and physically) and a good but also abused father who could not protect me.

    I am a few years older than you, and I try in many ways, but the pain and memories just don’t really go away. Like you, I try to be a better person. I think that is one reason you and I take good care of things, like animals and old houses.

    You have helped me, and so many, with your fantastic writing , and your dedication to perfection in the details.

    I came upon your blog at at hard time in my life, and your writing has served to calm and bolster me daily for the past several years.

    I loved this post. I got my first apartment, in Bridgeport, CT in about 1972. You can only imagine…but it was old, so for me that equaled good. Then I had another cool, old apartment in way pre hipster, downright dangerous Brooklyn in 1974.

    But here is the thing you will like. My very first furniture purchase was an Art Deco, 1938 Admiral floor model radio, for $50. I bought it in the Village and I had to pay $10 a week because that’s all I could afford. I still have it and I love and enjoy it every day. It doesn’t work but the tubes are extant!
    .
    Thank you dear Ross for sharing your Time Travels with us, for being so honest and open. And for recommending these 2 blogs which I look forward to reading. I am also a big VEB fan.

    And the shingles. I even love the shingles. I have shared you blog with many, and just yesterday, in Litchfield, CT I was rhapsodizing about your detail to shingles to friends just bought a house from the 1800s.

    Should you come to NY I would love for you to visit our (almost) 100 year old home, and should I ever get to Kansas, I will definitely be hoping to visit you and Cross House.

    And I totally get it about the lighting. Fellow lighting control freak here….

    Thank you again Ross. You have created a beautiful community and we love you. Wishing you every happiness.

    • Sandra D Lee on July 26, 2020 at 3:24 pm

      Thank you Karen Spencer’s for your wonderful post & supporting Ross.

      I think it helps to discuss these things and I find it is very therapeutic.

      It makes me thankful that I have risen above my childhood traumas as have you and also Ross.

      We have forged good lives.

      It saddened me the “pain never leaves” statement but I hope it helped to share with Ross & others.

      Thank you for sharing those hard things and thank you for moving on with your life in spite of it.

      I agree I live with my own pain but I do “training your brain for happiness” daily, meditate and pray daily and I am thankful I have risen above the old hard and painful things.

      I hope you find peace and it helped to share your pain with Ross—as I think Ross sharing his pain can also help a little for him as well. Won’t erase and the soul crushing that occurred never leaves. Abuse leaves scars. Years and years helps but it’s always that hole and pain in our soul that we have never been able to get beyond.

      I speak for myself only and envision it must be similar to others.

      I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers as I do Ross & others who have been traumatized.

      • Karen Spencer on July 26, 2020 at 5:23 pm

        Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts Sandra.

        Yes, we all need to be kind, honorable people and help those around us. I also meditate and pray daily. There is peace in that.

        And yes. we have forged good lives. That’s a wonderful phrase.

        I wish you peace and calm. I wish us all peace and calm.

        What a caring and thoughtful community Ross has brought together.

        • Sandra D Lee on July 26, 2020 at 9:30 pm

          Thank you Karen Spencer for your kind and thoughtful words.

          We both have found solace and peace in our lives.

          I am so thankful.

          You are right.

          Ross has assembled and brought together supportive and kind people in a community of caring. Primarily focused on support for Ross, but his hard post today brought out a lot of folks (including me) who have suffered varying traumas in childhood and younger years. Thankfully we are all supporting each other but mostly coming together to “envelope” Ross in a caring support community as we all seem to genuinely care about him and each other.

          It took such courage for Ross to reveal the horrors he suffered and thankfully he is free for many years of this horrendous trauma and torture (the horrors inflicted by his brother) were beyond the pale…..so senseless and cruel.

          I am so thankful Ross opened up and could be open in receiving support and therapeutic comments.

          I was struck by the lovely supportive messages toRoss and to each other.

          Thanks kindly for your thoughtful post. It was just lovely and I really appreciate you!

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 7:14 pm

      Thank you, Karen.

      What has really surprised is how generous y’all have been in sharing your stories, too. I now know many of you just a bit more. I cherish that.

      Wishing you every happiness, as well!

  24. David Gervais on July 26, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    I didn’t know which city you were referring to. I ran a search with “Pompeii Ding Room, of the Vinoy Park Hotel. Florida”.
    Your post was the top, first hit.

    I’m your age. I moved into my first dingy apartment. ($60/mth) that year too. If we had met back then I’d have had the hots for the cute guy with the luxurious wavy long chestnut hair. And with a great apartment too! I don’t know which would have attracted me more, your apartment or the hot guy that came with it.

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 7:11 pm

      Oh, you sweet talker, you!

      And, sorry, St. Petersburg is the city! I’m amazed I never mentioned that!

  25. Sandra D Lee on July 26, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    Dearest Ross!

    You are one of my most favorite and admired persons!

    You are yourself and it is so refreshing!

    I am horrified by the horrific torture and abuse you suffered at the hands of your “family.”

    They are hateful & evil people.

    I am so thankful & at peace for you to rise above the horror!

    You are so blessed to remove yourself from any contact with those evil persons including your “mother & father.”

    I use quotations as I won’t dignify distinguishing them with you or related in any way to you. They do not deserve you. May they be damned forever for torture and planned —& calculated abuse they deserve —no forgiveness and they will never be forgiven by God.

    In the Bible Jesus refers to people, like your former “family” as “persons who harmed innocents and would be better if they had never been born & a millstone wrapped around (each of their) necks and be hurled to the bottom of the sea.” & also in the Bible, “ there is NO forgiveness for those who grieve the Holy Spirit.” Those passages are in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.

    Exact verse etc are unimportant except I have them marked for myself.

    I suffered abuse also, but nothing on the scale of your suffering.

    That’s why I am so familiar with those passages as abusers of innocents and children are dealt with by God in those ways.

    They are unforgiven.

    Same as pedophile priests & anyone who abuses children and others.

    God makes no mistakes. Jesus was silent on gender and sexuality. Biblical nonsense such as old Hebrew “law” is nonsense. Hebrew scripture (OT) were translated by non-Jewish and primarily Christian men. There are very few versions that are accurate except maybe Oxford or Cambridge versions. They utilized Jewish experts & utilized 200-300 BC Aramaic & Hebrew translated to Greek, also 600 BC fragments of old Hebrew (translated when 600 BC cuneiform tablets found) and 100-400 AD Greek to Latin) translations).

    I still am a member of St Mary’s Episcopal Church (downtown KCMO; oldest church in KC 1857; building 1889). The Rector Father Charles is married to a lovely fellow and same sex marriages have been performed here for years. Since Gene Robinson Bishop in In the NE caused a schism in Episcopal Church in early 2000’s.

    I chose this church as my son came out as gay in middle school. He said he knew since he was 4 years old.

    I am so thankful I raised all 3 children to have strong sense of self.

    He has since chose to be with this older woman and identifies himself as bisexual. He is raising his 7 year old autistic son (actually step son as his own) & has lived with his partner for over 8 years.

    I have always embraced you as I so admire you for forging your own way and rising above your younger years and the abuse and torture!

    You are so bright and accomplished!

    I admire you for your work ethic and artistic /artisanal skills in restoration!

    I am so thankful for this post and you baring your soul. I think it has been therapeutic and cathartic for you are so supported by others who care about you!

    I am also so so thankful for the outpouring and affirmation on all those who posted ahead of me!

    Yay to YOU Ross!

    Yay for your COURAGE!

    Yay to all those KIND people who love you and support you as I do!

    Yay! Yay! Yay!

    Bravo to you & continue to do timeline posts to share those hard things. I think it helps emotionally and gives peace to the soul!

    Be blessed and at peace!

    We ALL love love love you!!

    🙂

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 7:10 pm

      Sandra, thank you for sharing your story with all of us. BIG BIG hug!

      • Sandra D Lee on July 26, 2020 at 9:36 pm

        Big hugs back to you!

        It took enormous courage to bare your soul….even more trepidation and courage to reveal the horrors you had been subjected to.

        I am so tremendously proud to call you my dear friend.

        This story (your story) was very powerful.

        It spoke to so many and prompted us to think about our own traumas and share.

        It was very therapeutic.

        I hope this has been therapeutic for you and you have gained some solace and comfort.

        Hugs! Big hugs to you!

      • Sandra D Lee on July 27, 2020 at 1:37 pm

        Hugs and more hugs to you Ross!

        Sharing your story did take me back into my own story. I didn’t mean to be so wordy and have such a long post. I was revisiting my own past after you so courageously revisited the horrors in your past.

        Your sister who you adored—- the mind blowing, shattering revelation she shared re: view of your coming out and thoughts, feelings on lifestyle. Such a hard thing & fracturing your world.

        I am thankful you divorced yourself from all of the former family. However, the sad reality of not sharing or being in your niece’s life. That is very hard….and had to revisit that piece. Unfortunately, her mother is raising her with the values and belief system that ultimately shattered your world — led to the final breaking all ties. It is hard but best .

        Lastly, the last piece is future. Legally, these persons are your next of kin and would default to be decision makers if anything unfortunate were to occur. I say this as I deal with situations on a daily basis, involving capacity, decision making and life choices. Please take steps to ensure this doesn’t happen…those previous relatives in legal terms default and could become involved. This is how it is legally— in spite of your wishes. Please make simple documents or more elaborate with legal help….

        • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 11:09 pm

          Sandra, thank you for your wise words. I do have a will, and it specifically excludes my family.

          Also, regarding my niece. As I mentioned, she was not part of what happened to me. But, about 15 years ago, I read one of her Facebook posts, where she did a moving tribute to her grandparents (my mom and dad). I’ve no doubt they were good grandparents. Great even. But, I know first-hand that they did, well, evil things as parents. And I thought: I’ve no idea how to reach out to a person with such a profoundly different…worldview. She’s right in her views, of course. Yet so am I, and my concern was that she would never be able to incorporate my experience into hers. Many people find it painful to hold two wildly divergent truths.

          • Sandra D Lee on July 29, 2020 at 12:21 pm

            Dearest Ross—-I am very thankful you have a will. You are so forward thinking and it was probably dumb 🙁 —of me to consider possibility of no protection, you are so sharp.

            I love the whimsy, curiosity and sense of wonder of your youth (once free) & how that manifests itself in your restoration wonders of vintage lighting and the exquisite, marvelous Cross House!

            Love the hair in 1975! Marvelous! You were & continue to be a very handsome guy!

            Your niece likely experienced your evil parents as wonderful grandparents—hence the Facebook tribute.

            It is common in abusive families for sometimes skipping generations and grandchildren sometimes are spared the horrors. Also some of the children might be targeted in some families while others are not abused. Your sister (niece is Dede’s daughter?) seemed to be willing to overlook your parents abuses (I don’t recall Dede — was abused or experience same horrors?). Nevertheless, your niece experienced a vastly different family & extended family.

            Also your niece was raised by your sister and she never accepted the reality of the life and lifestyle you embraced. I am remembered your words of disbelief and astonishment, when you were confronted with her view of your life & lifestyle.

            I would venture to guess your niece wouldn’t believe, if presented the reality of what you lived. The horrible parents, astonishingly became her beloved grandparents.

            Cognitive dissonance to you but her view of her upbringing is reality to her.

            I hope you don’t take offense. I just was struck by your concern for the alternative universes between you and your former family ( including your niece). I had thoughts about it and wanted to share because I care about you.

            Hugs to you Ross!

            🙂



          • Ross on July 29, 2020 at 8:15 pm

            Hi, Sandra!

            My sister did not experience the horrors I did as a child.

            My older brother never abused her. And our dad never took out his anger on her.

            She also had her own room! Oh, how I longed for my own room!



  26. Blair B Carmichael on July 26, 2020 at 3:15 pm

    Hello Ross,

    I have read every one of your posts and I live vicariously through your “Inching along” segments.

    I know how hot it can be doing that kind of work and I can truly feel nauseous at the thought. I lived in Orlando, Florida for 6 or 7 years and could not get used to the heat and humidity.)

    I rarely comment on your posts because I don’t like the thread arrangement of the comments.

    MY PROBLEM, NOT YOURS!

    Please write as often and in-depth as you can, I feel so lucky to have met you and you have influenced my life in ways I will always benefit from.

    Love and happy restorations!

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 7:04 pm

      Blair!!!!!

      You wrote: “I don’t like the thread arrangement of the comments.”

      I don’t know what that means.

      • Blair B Carmichael on July 27, 2020 at 9:10 am

        I was just grumpy, sometimes I hate the internets. Ok, most of the time.

        Please keep writing!

        • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 11:11 pm

          Blair, you’re charmingly grumpy.

  27. Derek Walvoord on July 26, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    Thank you – your post brightened my day. Well written, honest, and wide open. Well done

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 7:08 pm

      Thank you, Derek!

  28. Terri on July 26, 2020 at 7:49 pm

    Thank you for this post. Well written and insightful to what you went through to get to where you are today. My husband is a year older than you and I am a year younger. I remember going to the discos to dance away the nights. I really need to hug young Ross. Reading what you wrote in this blog broke my heart. I remember being in high school and having to defend a guy who came to school dressed as David Bowie (Ziggy) from a football player. Younger me didn’t understand all the pain that the Bowie fan was going through until months later when he told me he was gay (I sorta figured because he was dressing very flamboyant) and the football team picked on him all the time. To this day I’m glad younger me had the courage to stand up and say /yell “stop picking on him. It’s wrong. “ Keep writing about how you became the older wiser Ross that we all love! We all have scars from living life, and you my friend, have done so well with recovering from those scars. Hugs ,hugs ,hugs, and more hugs! I’m so glad I found you and met you in this blog ❤️

  29. Leigh on July 26, 2020 at 8:33 pm

    The Now-Ross has become a beautiful soul after the challenging experiences. Your young self prepared you for the challenges that you faced when you lost your business and home and fortune. The lessons were tough but you became a very kind person (looking after stray animals and wildlife is an example). Like a caterpillar that has to be inside a chrysalis, you underwent a period of being “locked in” (figuratively and/ or literally) in order to break free from the casing, transform and soar high.
    Much love to you Ross. You are loved by us, baldhead and all.

    • Ross on July 27, 2020 at 2:04 am

      Thank you, Leigh!

      I also love my bald head!

  30. Jane on July 26, 2020 at 9:37 pm

    Hi Ross,
    I am inspired by your ability to make yourself vulnerable after all you have suffered. You are an incredibly courageous man and I am moved by your story…and also this community’s love for you.

    I have never commented before, but I am intrigued by how much I ponder the various things you write. One thing I have wondered is why you have never moved into the Cross House. I believe at one point it was because you feared for your cats — but there is a cat enclosure in the back of the Cross House now. Is it because of the stray kitties who come to your porch? You may be wondering what this question has to do with this post, but I wonder if the scar tissue is somehow getting in the way.

    Be well.
    Jane

    • Ross on July 26, 2020 at 11:04 pm

      It is very nice to meet you, Jane! And thank you for the kind words.

      The simplest answer to your question is money. Or, the lack thereof. If I had enough money I could hire a large crew and resolve all the issues preventing me from moving into the house.

      For the first, say, four years the house was not heated and the AC was disconnected. And, even if these systems had worked, the house was too porous to heat and cool! But, these are now resolved.

      Now, I just need:
      Cat fence finished.
      A shower.
      My office finished.

      So, I’m not too far from being able to move in. The problem is the re-shingling of the south facade. This has overwhelmed me and has sucked up most of my time/attention for two years. But, this is also near done.

      So, I’m hoping that 2021 is the year!!!!!!

      • Leigh on July 27, 2020 at 7:48 am

        Will send some money via your gofundme account this August, Ross.

        (By the way, showers are overrated. Kidding!)

  31. Christine on July 27, 2020 at 8:11 am

    Dear Brave, Scarred, Healing Ross, thank you for being authentic and heart wrenchingly vulnerable in sharing this post. I can imagine you hitting the “post” button and waiting anxiously for the first bit of feedback on your heartful story. Your authenticity makes you so approachable.

    Making the effort to uncover (in more than one way) all those memories and events can serve to clean out the long scabbed over, yet unhealed wounds. Shame can only thrive in dark and secrecy. By sharing your secrets, you are washing those painful, festering places inside you in the healing light of love, acceptance, and daylight. A pain shared is a pain halved.

    You demonstrating courage makes me feel brave. Just yesterday I decided to change my unworthiness mantra. It doesn’t serve me, neither does it fit the life I want to create for myself going forward. So, now I get to practice saying “I AM worthy of love and belonging. I am lovable and deserving of love.” Saying that to myself to replace the worn out, untrue tapes is going to take some serious mental focus. Old habits are hard to break! And it will be worth it when I can look around and notice all the fantastic parts of life that are there because I let LOVE in and let LOVE lead. It’s ALL about the LOVE.

    You have created a whole community of people who came for the cool house story, but stay because of our emotional attachment to YOU. Thank you.

  32. Pamela on July 27, 2020 at 8:48 am

    My dear brother Ross, younger brother that is: I am 10 years older than you and my family was living in Brazil because of my father’s work when I realized I was gay. So many of us have dealt with this alone because confiding in anyone was almost impossible then. I looked for information on “homosexuality” in my American High School’s library and I found “The Well of Loneliness”. It was a start. I then found a community of gay men and lesbians on my own by sneaking out of the house and going to the bar district in Rio. In retrospect that was brave or maybe naive but I found support.

    Thank you for being open to sharing your life. I look for a new post everyday and this one was the most meaningful to me. However I can’t tell you how many times I opened up a post and said to myself Oh Joy, more shingles!

  33. Mike on July 27, 2020 at 9:45 am

    Ross, I appreciate your sharing your story, especially at this particular time.

    My brother and I grew up in a household where physical, verbal, and emotional abuse were regular events; we both were pro’s at hide-n-seek when we were little, and we both excelled in track in high school…side effects of survival.

    My mother has spent 6 decades covering up our little family secret, and I am ashamed to say that I helped her for much of that time. After all, it REALLY wasn’t that bad…but it was.

    My brother became the rebel, I turned to my grandparents for the love I needed, and then I got married young and got the hell out.

    My dad has spent the last 30 years now weaving his web, and he has fooled so many people, my children included. My complicity in the cover-up has cost me my relationship with my sons, while my daughter refuses to side with anyone; when I tried to tell them about my experiences growing up with their grandpa, they did not believe me.

    My aunt (dad’s sister) had no children of her own, and always treated my brother and I as her sons; when she passed away last year, I grieved for her as if she were my true mother. She had left everything to my brother and I except for some bequests to our children; after she died, it came to light that my dad had “assisted” her in writing a new will only a few days before her death, leaving everything to him in writing, with the verbal promise that he would distributive everything as she wished. Of course, he did not; my brother and I were left out completely, and our dad is now doling out the funds he received from her to my children as “rewards” for doing his bidding.

    My brother and I are closer now than we have been since we were kids, but the ongoing damage has left us both with scars that will be with us long after our parents are gone.

    It is so strange that you would share your story now, just when I needed reassurance that I am not the only one dealing with these issues.

  34. Mary Ann on July 27, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    Hey Ross,
    I always read you but rarely comment. You put out the challenge though so I will comment, thank you for sharing and I appreciate your story telling. I too had horrendous parents who did some scarring. A great thing though is that I am proud of the parenting I did and proud of the fact that I did not recreate the horrors I experienced for my children!! Yeah, and I had a great first apartment too, with funky old fashioned furniture from Goodwill and brick and board bookcases. Love what you are doing with the cats, theater, and lighting, and Cross House. I believe you are one fine human being and quite a genius at all you do.

    • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 10:56 pm

      Wow, Mary Ann!

      As you know, it’s common for abuse to simply repeat generation after generation. So, for you to BREAK the cycle is impressive. HUGE hug to you! Wonder mom!

  35. Mary Ann on July 27, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Hi again Ross, did I miss a part of your story or is it more private? “So, what she did in 1992 was a total shock to me. It’s still shocking.” I guess what happened caused you to separate from your family. Sometimes, for sanity’s sake this is the best course. I, too, “divorced my family. It helped me keep sane but there is still a bit of wistfulness there about it! Again, all the best and all happiness going out to you.

    • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 10:55 pm

      Hi, Mary Ann!

      I did mention, near the end of my post, more information about 1992.

      And congrats to you for making the hard decision regarding your family. I know way too many people who can’t break away from endless cycles of abuse.

      BIG hug! Ross

  36. John Blick on July 27, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    Ross,

    I grew up in the same era as you, and I remember the ridicule and abuse that was dished out to the kids who were effeminate and assumed gay at my high school. Assumed as no one would have ever dared to admit being gay. It makes me sad to think of the pain they endured. The thought of having even worse pain at home never crossed my mind. It is obvious from your writing that there is still a tremendous amount of lingering pain. I am sorry for the trauma that you have experienced and I hope that someday you will find peace.

    • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 10:52 pm

      Thank you, John.

      I’m more at peace today than I’ve ever been. And, yes, there’s certainly scar tissue. Tragically, I’m not alone with this, as so many of you have expressed here.

      I don’t hate my family. But I also know to stay far away. And I’m proud of that realization.

  37. Devyn on July 28, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    Gosh, with all these comments, I feel a little late to the party! So glad you shared a part of your story. I am a few years younger than you, but I can remember so very much to how important it was to live my life behind a shield.

    Growing up suburban in central California, I knew when I was different in first grade. But I didn’t know what that difference was until I was in sixth grade, and then kept it a secret until I came out to my parents at 16 (in 1982). While they did not exactly embrace that their only child was gay, they did not kick me out of the house. Unfortunately, because of some unspeakable things in my childhood, I had come to hate myself and the world.

    I felt the only way out was to find my own path to figure out just who I am, and at the age of 21, I moved 900 miles away to Seattle, with only a suitcase, a sleeping bag, and $400 in my pocket to forge a new life.

    Somehow, I made it…. It took quite a few years of living from check to check (while making my apartments as fabulous as I possibly could on next to zero dollars), experiencing homelessness, living with roommates, a lot of hard work, and the good fortune of being in the right places at the right times, but I made it (or so I thought).

    By the time I was in my mid 30s, I began to build a career in the corporate world (on a high school diploma) and I bought my first condo in Chicago in a high-rise on Lake Michigan. All of the externals looked great, but I was still miserable inside, teaming with self hatred. Finally, in my early 40s, I got a good therapist and I learned to love and accept who I am, as I am.

    These days, I am blessed with a relatively comfortable life. But I have not forgotten where I came from. It was life during those sparse years in my 20s and 30s that I still cherish. Poverty forced me to be creative. It also kept me close to friends who were just like me, alone in the city, with little connection to family. During those lean years, I nearly always hosted Thanksgiving at my place with all of my “urban orphan” friends. We were our own family with much to be thankful for. I can now appreciate the struggle and how it built me into who I am today.

    As for my parents, over time they mellowed, wounds healed on both sides, and they grew to accept me as I am. My wedding day in 2014 is probably the happiest I ever saw my mother.

    • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 10:48 pm

      Devyn, thank you for inviting us all into your life with your stories.

      I also love this: “My wedding day in 2014…”

      I’m sooooooooooo happy for you! Jealous, too!

  38. john feuchtenberger on July 28, 2020 at 10:03 pm

    Ross: Considering, in examining the urge to make the ruins whole again, to make renewed and usable the pushed-aside and discarded, to create beauty from desolation–these are impulses that drive all restorers in greater or lesser part. I cannot claim to comprehend how you not only survived, but triumphed over your challenges to take on an insurmountable task and doggedly complete it by sheer will power (although raw talent and creativity are abundantly displayed). I do so admire it, and your character–not only for your personal accomplishments, but how you have energized an army of avid followers not just to restore buildings, but to fight the good fight of restoring our beleaguered society. “Never dreamed, though right were worsted, that wrong would triumph.” It feels that you wrote this at a cost, using your heart’s blood for ink, and it is humbling and inspiring that you share it with us.

    • Ross on July 28, 2020 at 10:43 pm

      Thank you, John.

      You touched upon something I often wonder about.

      My childhood was so broken. And there was nothing I could do about it at the time.

      As an adult though, I’ve aways been drawn to the damaged, the broken, the ruined, and I’ve spent countless hours and $$$ to repair this damage. It’s like: Well, I couldn’t fix my childhood, so I’ll spend the rest of my life doing what I can to fix what I can.

      I mean, the connection seems obvious. But is it?

      I don’t know.

      • tura wolfe on August 2, 2020 at 10:29 pm

        Ross, thank you, thank you, thank you, for what you have written just above this reply. You have helped me to understand myself more than I ever have before. There has been therapy, soul searching, books read, and many friends listening, but your words gave me the answer to me…..why I am drawn and why I fix. Thank you, this is so helpful. Thank you.

  39. Scott on July 29, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    Hi Ross, I found your YouTube video a few months back, and have been reading your blog to get caught up with the present. Although I haven’t commented on your excellent work on the Cross house, this story requires a comment. I apologize, I’m not a writer!!

    You and I have a few things in common ! I’m a little younger than you (54) and I live in Livonia Michigan. My first “apt” was a 1971,1 bedroom mobile home , in a hole in the wall trailer park in Westland (sound familiar) Mi. I was 20 yrs old, my dad had to vouch for me that I was a responsible young man. So this was about 1987, I had to take out a $4000. loan, and only working at a minimum wage job.

    My father and my 3 siblings are all handy…So, in the 6 years I lived there, I completely renovated that trailer from the studs up. A lot of trial and error, and money (for that time). I eventually found a real career, and sold it for $8000. And made a small profit!

    By then I had the renovation bug and bought my first house, and after many renovations, and 4 houses later….. I’m staying put til I retire.

    And #2, which made me laugh, when you were telling the story of you and your mother with the peacock wallpaper….I was always painting and decorating when I lived at home. My mom and I were in a wallpaper store, and we’re asked to have our picture taken for the stores newspaper ad. An old neighbor saw it in the paper and mailed it to my mom saying….now what room are you remodeling again? Kinda funny

    So, our last similarity, if you haven’t guessed already…. I’m also gay. I’m out to some family members and friends, but I still play the game. I’m sure people know or think it, but I’m fine with the way things are. I’m the youngest of 4, and same story…I remember thinking boys were cute, although I only played with girls. I went to Catholic school for 8 years which was very sheltered. In 9t grade I went to public schools. Talk about sticker shock….I didn’t even know how babies were conceived!! Lol

    Any ways, …..I was picked on in high school, horrible in sports, blah blah blah and all the rest. I didn’t come out until I was 26 to my mom after my first serious break up. Who was my roommate….wink,wink .
    My mom was surprised, (I figured she knew) but said she still loved me, and has never treated me any different……she thought it was a good idea not to tell my dad…which was fine. Lol I’ve never flaunted being gay, and we talked very little about it over the years. I now have a great boyfriend for 3 yrs. He’s understanding to my situation, as he is openly gay.

    I’m so sorry, this post wasn’t supposed to be about me, I wanted to acknowledge how very sorry I am for your childhood. It know it was very lonely for you at times. Thank God you were able to overcome your nightmare, and turn into the strong, caring man you’ve become!

    I believe the renovation of the Cross house has probably been very therapeutic for you, (and stressful)!! by you making what’s wrong with it, right again. Except for all those damn shingles…you don’t deserve that. Keep up your excellent work and attitude, your a special man!

    Best wishes in all you do, hugs, Scott

    • Ross on July 29, 2020 at 8:19 pm

      Wow, Scott. Thank you for sharing your story.

      And, I grew up in Westland, right next to Livonia!

  40. Steve on July 31, 2020 at 11:35 am

    Ross, thanks for sharing everything, the good, the bad, and especially the ugly…sometimes it’s hard to, but you are never alone in your struggles.

    I’m sure we all fondly remember our first apartments for the same reason you do…I know I remember mine right down to the feeling one of the first sleepy Saturday mornings on the couch, realizing this was where I lived, AND IT WAS MINE!!! Although i was pretty lucky, I stumbled onto a beautiful apartment that was cheap!

    I look forward to reading more, again, thanks for sharing!!

  41. Cindy Belanger on August 3, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    Ross, I am so sorry you had to endure such a horrible childhood. I can’t imagine why any parent would treat their child the way you were treated. And judging from the comments, this abuse is not as unusual as people think, some abuse was worse than others. Yes, your parents had problems, but that is no reason to treat you that way. I was lucky and had a wonderful childhood. I didn’t know this kind of abuse existed until I was 16 and met my husband. He was verbally abused by his stepfather and had to stay in his room when his stepdad was home. He couldn’t eat at the table with them, had to eat in his room. I’m glad you were able to finally start enjoying your life and start to overcome some of the trauma of your earlier years. I know the scars don’t go away completely, but discovering new things like decorating with vintage items, architecture and free to be yourself had to be very liberating. All people like your 1975 self make stupid mistakes and behave immaturely, it comes with the territory. I made some doozies.

    I didn’t have an apartment, I went from my parents house to being married. I remember discovering antiques after high school, 1969. Victorian was just starting to make a come back, and the antique stores looked so mysterious and intriguing. My future husband & I would go to auctions and antique stores. At that age you think you can do almost anything and you have your whole life ahead of you. Sometimes I miss that feeling, but probably wouldn’t want to relive it again. I collected glassware and wanted to buy an antique china cabinet. I begged my Mom to let me keep the cabinet in our living room until I was married and could take it along with me. It had a dark almost black finish, my Mom said I could keep it at the house if I refinished it. My Dad showed me how to strip and refinish it, so that’s what I did. I married in 1973 and now 47 years later we have a Victorian house filled with antique furniture, glassware, clocks & lamps. The time has flown by we have two children and one grand daughter. Thanks for your post, you are an excellent writer, I almost felt like I was there with you. The many things you have achieved in your life and especially the Cross House restoration are remarkable and I so enjoy reading your blog. May the future bring you much happiness, stay healthy.

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