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Life in an Atrium: 30 Years as an Eichler Resident

Life in an Atrium: 30 Years as an Eichler Resident

February 13, 2014 in Eichler History, Life in an Atrium by

Welcome to a brand new series here at Eichler SoCal.  “Life in an Atrium: 30 Years as an Eichler Resident”. Torchy Hunter moved into an Eichler home in the bay area and is now sharing her story with us. We hope you enjoy the article, if you have any stories about living in an Eichler Home or any Mid-Century modern, be sure to contact us.
30 Years in an Eichler, The beginning -

Eye­klure? What’s an Eye­klure? I asked just after returning to San Jose from two years living in Florence. That Florence. Italy, palazzos, monumental sculpture, the Uffizi, the Ponte Vecchio. People told me to look for this Eye­klure while I was house hunting and so depressed to be seeing nothing but California ranch style :the “ticky­tack” song had come out the year before.

Then I saw one. What are those houses? No windows on the street, peaked roofs, translucent glass in the car port seeming to enclose an atrium? Somebody knew what an atrium was? A Realtor doubtfully told me only 10% of the house­ buying public would buy one of them, but that 10% wouldn’t buy anything else. A few months later we bought the next one that came on the market, and the first night we slept on the floor because the furniture had not arrived. We kept feeling like we were getting away with something to be in such an amazing space just for us.The previous owner had left a George Nelson ball clock on the fireplace they wanted us to buy, but poverty stricken ­first job people who had just paid $25,000 for a house had to pass.

I kept that house for 30 years; my kids grew up there, friends were made who are still friends. It was a classic Ivory Tower. Outside the streets of Eichlers were ordinary people doing ordinary things, but nothing seemed ordinary inside. People were all about the same age; had kids the same age, had professional jobs, made about the same amount of money, were of every creed and color, which the kids never noticed, and had liberal, if not left politics. Every holiday was celebrated, and some created: there was an art festival that began with people hanging art on their fences. It went for 28 years until the city shut it down for no outdoor toilets, or sufficient crowd control, or lack of commercial licenses. Every 4th of July, I gave the neighborhood kids Magic Markers and they put different colored spots on our Dalmatian.There was an increased sense of neighborhood because the houses had attracted somewhat unusual people and put them all together. Individuals were free to pursue whatever pleased them. One guy had turned his garage into a model railroad layout and wore his engineer hat while in there. Another guy built huge, dump­ truck load size sand castles in his driveway. I knew of at least two families who swapped their children during some difficult ­teenage years.

Atria, function of: A baby could be set up in the atrium in a playpen, or set on the floor, and if you weren’t too picky about whether they ate dirt or not, could stay there for hours, while mom, inside, could do whatever she needed to, all the while able to see the kid. Actually, this applies to a baby anything: dog, cat, salamander, turtle,iguana. It was the center of the house, from which everything was visible and everything began or finished. “Put your coat on and meet me in the atrium.”

 

Be sure to check back for the next chapter in “Life in an Atrium: 30 Years as an Eichler Resident”. If you have any questions, or would like to find your dream Eichler home, be sure to contact us at anytime. 

 

Torchy Hunter

Torchy Hunter returned from two years in Florence, Italy and bought an Eichler in San Jose in September 1966 Her sons were raised there; she finished a Masters Degree (in English), and only left in 1995, after almost 30 years. She is a nationally published humor writer (Ladies Home Journal,Our Place, Los Alamos Monitor bylined column) college instructor, actor, painter, flower and jewelry maker who still loves her Eichler.

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