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The City Beat

Further Confessions of a Home Tour Junkie

Posted 3:36 PM by



We moved into Meridian Kessler a long time ago.  From what I remember, which is a bit blurred by time, I was looking for a relatively new house.  My experience in home mending consisted of calling the maintenance department of my apartment.  I’d come to Indianapolis from an area that had views of Lake Michigan, so had some vague idea of living near a body of water, which meant looking in the outer edges of the city and being a bit willing to compromise on just what constituted a body of water.


We contacted a realtor and set about touring the outer regions of Indianapolis, which meant trips that consisted of 75% driving and 25% touring homes.  We were determined to be picky, and probably wore down our realtor finding excuses not to make bids.  At the end of another long day of wandering, our agent was taking us home, when she mentioned that a house was about to be listed in Meridian Kessler, and since she’d like to see it, wondered if we’d go along.  We agreed and four ourselves at a 75 year old Tudor in the northeast corner of Meridian Kessler.  


Inside, we found a house completely different from anything we’d seen in the past month of wandering, filled with twists and turns, nooks and crannies, leaded windows, laundry chutes that might have fit one pair of underwear, hardwood floors and a roof made of stones.  After our tour, about the time we were leaving the front porch, my wife informed me that I had two choices.  The first was to keep looking for new homes on the outskirts, and the other was to have a continuing sex life.  I did some quick calculations as to the number of times I was going to contemplate a view of some drainage pond, and the number of times I was likely to follow other pursuits, and found I was filling out an offer sheet as we drove away.


We moved in a couple of months later, on a February day not seen again until our Super Bowl in that it was in the mid 70’s.  There was a bird flying around our living room, which we took as a positive omen, at least until we later discovered that birds and other woodland creatures could find their way into the house at their pleasure.  But, we were in the rapture of home ownership and still envisioned animals from Cinderella who would dress us in the morning and help with the cleaning chores.


Pinned to our fireplace mantel was a post-it note from the prior owners, announcing that we would be on the Meridian Kessler Home Tour in June, and would shortly be contacted by the Home Tour Committee.  We still assumed the birds would help with the Home Tour as well.  The owners also left behind a copy of Indianapolis Monthly, where we discovered, our living room, sans birds, was featured.


We’d moved, as noted, from an apartment, and not a big one.  We had sufficient furniture for about half the house, but none of it remotely resembled the layout in Indianapolis Monthly.  Naturally, we panicked.  Since post-it notes seemed to work well for the prior owners, we started by adding a post-it in the empty dining room announcing that it was now the Ballroom, and contemplated dancing there for two days of Home Tour  (music supplied by the birds) while the tour guests filed through.  My wife began shopping for glass slippers.


Fortunately in those days, Indianapolis was still filled with second hand (OK fourth hand) furniture shops, many of which were still in Meridian Kessler.  In todays world, those stores are called antique shops (and priced accordingly) but then, they were closer to junk shops, but also where, if you were willing to learn a bit of furniture repair and refinishing, you could find real bargains.  Our basement (then unfinished) became the woodworking shop where trash was returned into treasures.  Our indoor woodland creatures  (we assumed they were mice wearing bonnets) walked across newly stained woodwork leaving tiny footprints behind.   


We became frequenters of garage sales.  Early on, largely because the prior owners had left the drapes behind, that there seemed to be a lot of pink and blue in the house.  My wife, who was far more advanced in these areas, began slapping me in the side of the head every time I said that, and I quickly learned that “our colors” were rose and teal.  Equipped with that knowledge, I could make quick work of garage sales, offering to buy anything that seemed remotely pink or blue.  As I shopped, my wife decorated, and cleaned  (OK, the birds and mice were total failures in that regard).


As February turned to March, March to April, and so on, I discovered the true depth of Home Tour paranoia.  While I had the luxury of going off to work every day, my wife stayed home and contemplated our home with what she imagined was the discerning eye of a veteran home tour attendee.  She assumed the main pursuit of those people would be corners and baseboards, all of which needed to be cleaned with a toothbrush, and soon I was buying those with the regularity of one who has a dental cleaning coming up and needs to compensate for months of gum neglect.


Attendees other main concern, I was told, was underwear, since, left unattended for even a second, were sure to be inspected.  Most of our supply was now wedged in our laundry chute to nowhere, so between furniture refinishing and garage sales, I learned the mysteries of Victoria’s Secret.  (Apparently male underwear is of no interest to Home Tour folks despite my insistence that a few of my IU boxer shorts would surely be admired)  As it turned out, my wife looked pretty good in rose and teal  (remember, I was still reaping the benefits of buying the house) though occasionally she blended in with the draperies and I lost track of her.  My folding improved, since no self-respecting Home Tour guest was going to tolerate improperly folded scanties, even if they did match the drapes.  IU does not make rose and teal boxers, although that may have changed.


With the Tour about a week away, I determined that my wife was of insufficient mind to be left in our house to suffer the imagined indignities of underwear ogling, corner inspecting guests, so booked us a room at a downtown hotel for the tour date.  After all, our underwear had to remain home and perfectly folded, so it was bound to be a romantic weekend.  That failing, I was comforted that I was at least saving the life of the first guest who dared criticize anything in our house while in earshot of my wife.


We turned over our keys to the Home Tour folks and departed for our hotel, chosen because it was not decorated in rose and teal and we wouldn’t have to be reminded that our underwear didn’t match the decor.  For two days we ate, drank, and imagined the enthralled tour guests being whisked through our house by the birds and woodland creatures  (which had been secretly rehearsing their roles for months).


Our checkout was well before the tours end, so we took the opportunity to see the other homes on the tour  (none of which had birds and woodland creatures as docents).  We scarcely noticed a corner or a baseboard, but did notice one brave homeowner who’d stayed behind to guard her clearly non-conforming underwear.


We returned home just in time to be one of the final group treated to a tour of our own house, and were lead through by a docent who described in great detail all the miracles of our house, sadly omitting the corners and underwear.  As we passed by a guest bedroom, filled with 1960’s Sears furniture cleverly held together with concealed duct tape, the docent did mention that everything in the room was a priceless family heirloom  -  a line we reused  later when selling it at our garage sale.


All that was about a quarter century ago.  Our experience with the Home Tour led us to getting involved with the neighborhood association, and of course staying involved with the Home Tour.  Our house has changed  -  we’re raised a family, repaired what always needs repairing in old houses, redecorated, remodeled and repainted.  If anything, the house is more impressive than it was back then, but all of Meridian Kessler, thanks in no small part to the neighborhood association is a lot more impressive as well.


The Tour is always improving.  The Association now throws magnificent parties for those who volunteer their homes, and even insures the homeowners against disasters that never happen.


We hope you’ll attend this year’s Tour, and the marvelous Twilight Party.   Both celebrate our neighborhood, from where it’s been to where it’s headed.  We sincerely applaud the homeowners who allow us into their homes.  At least one of us understands the effort you’ve put into your corners and baseboards, and promises to only imagine how neatly folded and color coordinated your underwear must be.





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Meridian Kessler Neighborhood Association
526 East 52nd Street
Indianapolis, IN 46205
Phone: 283.1021 Fax: 283.6061
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