This is a love story.
The first house I fell in love with was on Pawtucket Avenue in East Providence. Four lane street, commercial and residential, traffic lights, no stop signs. Big, menacing streetlights, straight from War of the Worlds. The front yard resembled Carl Fredricksen’s before he took off, but you could stand in it for ten minutes and see half the town drive by.
The house belonged to my aunt and uncle. They were rich.
Every room gleamed, even the one with shag carpet (this was the 70’s after all). The walk-out basement was its own rec-center, the first room I heard Elton John sing (Benny and the Jets). The first room I played ping-pong or slid Risky-Business style across a tiled floor. The house was magic.
My mother loved that house too, her sister’s house. She spoke of it often as we sat in our cramped apartment – five kids, a dog, cat - room enough for half that. My mother dreamt and my father worked. Usually two jobs, sometimes three.
Then a miracle happened.
My aunt and uncle decided to build a big house in ‘farm country’ and they wanted to sell Pawtucket Avenue to my dad! It hardly seemed possible. I mean, we weren’t rich. We couldn’t afford it, could we? We had shag pets, not shag rooms. There were stains on our jeans. This doesn’t happen to apartment-dwellers like us, does it?
But what I was really asking was this: did we deserve it?
To think we didn’t, broke my heart. You shouldn’t be able to love something you can’t have.
That emotion, that sentiment, came to define my perspective on owning a home. Many call it an American Dream, to me it’s always been an American Love Story. And if you couldn’t afford it, your heart would protect you from loving it (Hallmark, 1989).
Fast forward 15 years. My dad, failing in health, my mother gone ten years now. I’m working in consumer finance, about to become a dad myself. And I decide to do two things:
1) Buy Pawtucket Avenue from my dad
2) Start Shamrock Home Loans.
I did them both inside the same year. I did them both for the same reason. Plain and simple. Clear as day. That reason as strong today as it was then:
Because everyone deserves to live in a home they love.
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