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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Shawnee home leaves family line after 111 years

  • If walls could talk, they probably still wouldn't have as much to say about Jim Smith's family home as he does.

    Each room holds volumes of personal memories.
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  • If walls could talk, they probably still wouldn’t have as much to say about Jim Smith’s family home as he does.
    Each room holds volumes of personal memories.
    Smith, a longtime News-Star paper delivery man, grew up in the home on 627 N. Park Avenue and has owned the house himself for the last 42 years. Altogether, the house has been in the Smith family for 111 years.
    Smith and his wife Virginia just recently sold the home and spent their last day in the home Thursday.
    “It’s sad, but it’s time,” Virginia Smith said.
    The couple decided to sell the home because, as their kids and grandchildren have grown up, the Smiths have realized a need to downsize.
    The home was built in 1903 by an uncle. For all but two years since, the home has been occupied by a member of the family.
    Smith’s parents bought the house from an aunt in 1945 and he brought the home back into the family in 1973.
    “I fixed this place up because I figured this was my last stop,” Smith said. “I didn’t know God was going to have me live past 85, I didn’t know I would ever even see 85. Well, now I’m getting ready to turn 85, I’m healthy and I’m still having a good time.”
    Smith has put in hours and hours of work into improving the home since he’s been the owner.
    He’s added a pool, a brick patio, a garage and an entire new addition to the home. The bathroom in the new addition includes a sleek new tub that likely would have baffled Smith’s parents.
    “I paid more for this bathtub than my parents paid for the house,” he said.
    It’s hard to look anywhere in or around the house and not see an example of something Smith has added on.
    “A lot of this landscaping you see around here, I did all this,” he said. “I planted every plant you see out there and every brick that you see laid out there, I put that there through the years.”
    Despite the changes, Smith’s past in the house is still fresh on his mind.
    He remembers the exact spot his mother died, peacefully, while crocheting and where his older brother once ate 47 of his mother’s hot rolls during Christmas.
    Growing up, Smith shared one bedroom with four brothers who would constantly give each other grief.
    Page 2 of 2 - One time while Smith was shaving, one brother threw a cherry bomb in the bathtub behind him. He would later retaliate by dropping a firecracker down at his brother through a heating vent.
    Smith said his dad, who was the third pastor at Liberty Baptist Church, would call him the “black sheep” of the family, because he took up smoking at a young age and would come home after one or two in the morning.
    After one of these late nights, Smith recalls carefully climbing up the stairs to his bedroom, trying not to wake his father. He even knew which steps would creak and avoided them.
    He felt accomplished as he got to the top of the stairs, but as he reached to turn on the lights in his room, he discovered that his brother Bill, who was working as a photographer at the time, had replaced the regular light bulbs with flashbulbs.
    There was a big flash, a loud noise, a louder scream and one very angry dad.
    “They (the brothers) were ornery,” said Virginia. “They still are.”
    Even though it’s the house that’s been sold and not the family history that goes along with it, Smith still plans to drive by and peek at the old house every once in a while.
    “The memories are astronomical, and that’s the main reason I’m going to miss it,” he said.

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