My brother Seán was the last of the Rowley Family on Herbert Street. He sold the house back in about 2005. When the Rowley Family lived there it was an Irish house through and through. It was a sea of green featuring shamrocks, leprechauns, and St Brigid’s Crosses. My Ma even talked funny like one of the Irish in the movies.
We had family come over from Ireland from time to time and they had very fond memories of their time visiting on Herbert Street. It was a great house with awesome memories.
One family member, Regina, was visiting just 2 years ago from Ireland and wanted to take a visit down to the old neighborhood. As we were making our way up and down the streets of Northwood, we noticed that one of the main differences was the absences of the trees on the streets. Many trees had died off or been removed. You don’t realize what type of character trees add to a neighborhood until they are no longer there.
Anyhow, we went up and down Herbert Street a couple times rubbernecking out the windows with each pass. We were noting what had changed and what had stayed the same.
On the last pass down Herbert Street – out of “my” front door pops a woman with a smile on her face. She asks “can I help you. It’s like the 5th time you passed by the house and you seemed to slow with each pass of my house.”
Regina, spouts from the car, “no – it’s his house”. Now I had to pull over and explain.
I believe her name was Ms. Gwyn. As I walked towards the house, I explained my history with the house. She invited us in for a visit.
The house was no longer Irish. There was a new history to the house one that was brilliantly African. The walls were colored with new patterns, shapes, and colors. Celtic images were replaced with those from another continent. Walking through the house you could see the pride of a family and the new character and stories that would forever be imprinted within those walls.
She let us have free reign of the house. I explained to her the events and the stories unique to each room. Ms. Gwyn seems curious about the Rowley family’s love for Caribbean Beach wallpaper murals that was one or two layers thick in the master bedroom. I told her that was not part of any “Irish” culture you’d find on Google. Just a crazy Rowley thing. As I shared each excited utterance of happy memories, she had a similar story to share.
When I left Herbert Street that day, I felt a good family had continued a tradition between those walls that included love and laughter. This seemed to be just the type of family that made Northwood such a great place to live the years I was there.
Keep on loving and caring for the neighborhood and a great community is always within reach.