Two people, a Guatemalan born man, and his wife, raised three girls and one boy in this 1933 Van Nuys house.
The children grew into adults. They went to college, then graduate or medical school, and became highly educated professionals.
The parents, and another relative, stayed behind in the old house, a Spanish style ranch with a red tile roof and backyard full of fruit trees, and numerous potted, flowering plants.
All the old people died a few years ago. Now the house is being prepped for an estate sale. The lady running the sale is my friend. She invited me into the home to survey it.
It seems that nobody ever threw anything away. And every square space of the property was full of mountains of metals, tools, cans, bottles, wood, and machinery.
Packed tight in the front of the house was a tiny kitchen, dining room, living room and a two bedrooms. But in the back was a secret, unofficially constructed warren of rooms and an old patio converted to an indoor sewing room, and another bathroom, added on.
Outside, a jerry-built outdoor sink was plumbed up to an exterior wall. External electrical outlets taped up to live connections was nearby. A family of raccoons made their home above old lawn mowers and a rusted gasoline blowtorch. Any space that could store things, did.
Yet, these people were not pack rats or hoarders. They were, most likely, born poor, and through thrift, industry, and hard work, and a strong dose of Catholic faith, they persevered and prospered.
The front of their home has always been neat. The lawn is cut, the driveway swept, the cyclone metal fence keeps guard along the street. Birds of Paradise have grown large and cover the front living room window.
And when this house is sold, and the contents banished or transferred to new owners, the life of people who once inhabited this home will be erased forever.