One thing that’s often lost in genealogy research is why families move. It’s relatively easy to find a family’s change of address using the Census or City Directories. And you may even find, using Google maps, that the houses where your family lived are still standing. What you can rarely figure out, unless it has been passed down orally, is why the family pulled up stakes and moved from one location to another.
The moves made by my mother’s Simmers clan are a case in point. While staying in Westchester County for a wedding, I did a drive-by tour of the houses where she lived while growing up. From 1932 through at least 1940, the family resided at 81 Cayuga Road in Yonkers, an easy commute to County Refrigeration, the White Plains-based business that my grandfather ran. The three-bedroom, three-bath home is worth about $630,000 today, according to Zillow estimates.
One factor holding down its value — it’s inexpensive for Westchester County — is that it’s located only four blocks from the heavily trafficed Bronx River Parkway. That said, the finely appointed Tudor is nestled in a quiet residential neighborhood of pleasantly upscale homes. The home was built in 1932, according to Zillow, the same year my mother was born. My mother’s family were probably the home’s first owners.
By the time my mother was 10, however, the family had moved to 15 Moreland Street. Though not far away, the new home is within the city limits of tony Bronxville. The desire for a better education may have motivated the move. The 2,486-square-foot Moreland home has one fewer bathroom than the Cayuga home, though a third bathroom could have been added later on. Zillow estimates that the Cayuga house is worth $766,976 today, so it was probably a trade-up move for the Simmers family back then.
The family lived at 15 Moreland Street until at least April 1948. That was when the family returned from a vacation and my grandfather, Hugh Simmers, died. My mother would have been 15 at the time. That event may have precipitated the move to an apartment at 133 Pondfield Road. The family was living there by 1952.
I remember spending the night at my grandmother’s apartment when I was very young. She cooked me boiled eggs and squeezed fresh orange juice in the morning. I found my grandfather’s accordion in a closet more than a decade after he died. My family often ate holiday meals in the house, with its big grandfather’s clock. It was forbidden to open the oven door when the Yorkshire pudding was baking.