PHOENIXVILLE - The introductory phrases are simple. They are often uttered with a variety of emotions: happiness, relief, frustration, anger, simplicity, anxiety, sadness, or concern.
Often they are received by other members of the family like a tidal wave hitting the sands of tranquility.
"We're going to have to move, I've been transferred."
"This family has just outgrown our house."
"Suburban sprawl has made my trip to work a nightmare."
"Now that we're older and the kids have homes of their own, I think that we need a smaller place."
"I'm sick of winter weather. Let's move to a warmer climate."
Indeed, simple phrases like the student pilot fooling with the gadgets on the cockpit instrument panel who asks as he pushes the eject button, "What does this do?"
No two families are alike when it comes to narrating their moving experiences. However, they may be placed in rather vague categories. Some prefer to do the task themselves with the help of anyone whom they can con into taking part in the fiasco. Of course, there are bribes similar to Tom Sawyer and his fence-painting episode. "We'll have plenty to eat and drink so it will just be one big party." When the post party cost is realized, the price of broken and dislocated articles plus the tally for the food and drink indicates that it would have been cheaper to hire a mover.
Then there are the family moving operations. If you have a large rather stationary family this may be a good idea. But beware of the inherent traps, or you might be spending six weekends in the coming year on the Jones' moving team as another squad member calls to ask repayment of their back breaking debt.
Our family has always used qualified and insured local area movers. We had heard too many war stories about some of the cut-rate national movers who left your belongings in an empty house in Chester instead of Chester Springs.
As I share a few of my own moving experiences, please realize that for every move there are always unseen potholes and unknown pitfalls waiting to trap the trusting traveler.
My wife and I returned from two years of living in Santurce, Puerto Rico, while I taught English to Spanish-speaking army personnel. It was our first home together and we took every opportunity to enjoy the beautiful island paradise. We lived in a three-room-and-bath furnished apartment that overlooked the spacious countryside. Since our finances were limited to a meager corporal's salary we still used our money to buy a lifetime adventure and enjoyed all the pleasures of the wealthiest tourist.
When we returned home in the hot summer of 1954, my wife found a job as swim director at a Lancaster County Girl Scout Camp and I was her assistant with pool maintenance responsibilities. We lived comfortably in a 16- by 16-foot tent deep in the woods so furniture and warm clothes were not a problem.
We had permanent teaching jobs starting in the fall but had been too busy to think about a place to live. My father brought up the impending move after we rented a nice apartment in Ambler. "Do you want to rent a truck?" he asked in his usual practical way.
Suddenly, it hit us. We had no furniture and no winter clothes. Our packed away wedding gifts were about it. It was the easiest move that we ever made as everything fit nicely into our 1951 Chevrolet. I do remember freezing that winter after spending two years in a sub-tropical climate, despite our new warm coats.
We talked about the simplicity of that move years later when I changed school administrative positions. We had lived in a country home in Wycombe, Bucks County. It was so rural that I had my own rifle range in the front lawn. The home was built in the mid-18th century and was constructed with three separate sections on the second floor. Our sons had their own sleeping area, the girls had the middle section and we had our quarters on the left.
There is a law of physics that states, "Nature abhors a vacuum." The house was very large with a spacious attic, basement and a barn on the property. It didn't take the eight of us long to fill every nook and cob-webbed cranny within those massive stone walls. May I please add that the family also included a large, very protective German Shepherd named Tawn, a mutt known as Rusty plus seven part barn, house and great buddy, cats plus my favorite wildcat named Charcoal.
I took a principal's job in Red Hill and my wife was hired as a middle school teacher. We bought a nice home near the Green Lane Reservoir in a quiet cul-de-sac that no longer was quiet. The neighbors petitioned to get rid of Tawn and threatened to shoot our cats. But the move there was the most cataclysmic. The movers did a great job but we made dozens of trips in our cars for items that each of us classified as personal and sacred. My most memorable trip was with a terrified Charcoal digging into the back of my seat after he had escaped his Alcatraz-type cage. My third illustration is culled from our more ancient years when memorabilia is vital to both of us. We moved into our small present home in Phoenixville with just the "essentials." The movers complained about my 30 cartons of books and my wife's cartons of memories. The house is just perfect for us even if there is no room to move around.