Fifty-two Moves

March 25, 2016

IM004540 I’ve moved 52 times in my life, that’s right, 52, packed up all my stuff and have moved 52 times.  Grand Marais, Minnesota, then five moves in a year when back in Whitefish. 

Mom and Dad were divorced in the mid-fifties, Mother married Roy and we left Bay Point on Whitefish Lake, moved with him to Grand Marais on the North Shore of Lake Superior.  Lived on the famous Gunflint Trail.  Shocking, that first move, very different people, somewhat hostile country.

Mom and Roy divorced after a couple years, and we moved back to Whitefish, never settling for long in one spot.  My folks remarried and Dad turned the old Bay Point Drive-In Theatre concession stand into our home, perched on gravel with open fields all around.

RJ Garrett and I were married in 1959, and we began moving—19 times in five-and-one-half years, mostly in Iowa.  RJ worked for an appraisal company that would contract with a city or county to re-appraise their homes, businesses, everything actually. The jobs usually took about 4-6 months or less. Fort Dodge, Webster City, Oskaloosa, Ottumwa, Decorah, Mason City, Clear Lake, Boone, Niles, St. Joseph, last two in Michigan, and the list goes on.

While living in tornado-riddled Olathe, Kansas, yes, we went right through the middle of one, I insisted that we stop moving, so RJ found a job working for the city in Fargo, North Dakota.  The people are nice, funny, kind, but the weather is not fit for humans, and they shouldn’t try to live there.  Moorhead, Minnesota, twin city to Fargo.

One wicked March day in Fargo, snow almost to the top of our six-foot high living room windows, and a blizzard whipping by with even more snow, RJ found me in our closet throwing stuff onto the bedroom floor, digging out our suitcases.  He said, “What are you doing?”

“I’m going home!  I will not live here one more minute!”  He calmed me down, found a job in Helena, he got the call the day before we moved, and we traveled cross country.  Bought an enormous 90-year old house in Helena and I lived there for another eleven years before we divorced.

Divorce can also cause you to move a lot.  Helena, five places, Wolf Creek, back to Whitefish. 

Whitefish, four places, Bigfork, back to Whitefish.  Stayed in one house in Columbia Falls after moving all my plunder in for just one night.  Four cats owned by the previous tenant had used the basement for their litter box for years, which wasn’t evident until the weather heated up.  Moved out the next day.  Columbia Falls, Whitefish again, always going home. 

In 2003, I bought my present house in Columbia Falls.  I had wanted to build a house in Whitefish yet couldn’t afford the land cost, but kept drawing house plans.  When my present house in Columbia Falls came to me, it just had the studs up inside, nothing more, and instantly, I knew it was my house, was the favorite house plan, drawn over and over.

It’s still my house, my sanctuary, and they will probably have to carry me out feet first.  (Please don’t ask me to help you move.)

By: Author Nan McKenzie


3 thoughts on “HOME SWEET HOME

  1. Nan, this is a lively, delightful recounting! Fun to read, and makes one think about moves and the impact of places and people in one’s life. I am glad you are in Whitefish. Your home is you! Nancy R

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