ERNIE BROWN A big change at the half-century mark

This column is dedicated to two significant milestones in my life -- I'm leaving the city of my birth, and I'm now a half-century old.
First of all, by saying I'm leaving the city doesn't mean I'm moving from the Buckeye State.
I am, however, leaving the city of Youngstown to move to suburbia. In two weeks, I will be living in Boardman Township.
As a new suburbanite, I need some questions answered. Who picks up my trash and recyclables? What cable company services Boardman? Does the township have a jail (not that I plan on spending any time there, but some things you need to know).
Since my birth on May 25, 1952, I have lived on the city's East and South Sides.
I traipsed through Lincoln Park, played baseball at Oakland Field, played flag football at Homestead Park, and watched my children play basketball at Bancroft Park behind Youngstown Christian School.
Now, however, I will soon be living in the state's largest township. I will have a township trustee and administrator to call instead of a councilman to resolve a government issue.
Other changes
Here are some other changes I'll have to get used to:
UThe home I'm moving to is the largest I've ever owned -- a whopping 2,064 square feet.
UThe mortgage is the highest I've ever paid.
UThis is the first house I've lived in that has a sump pump.
UI will have a family room above ground.
UThe garage is attached to the home. My days of getting out of the car and dashing through the elements to get inside are over.
My wife, Cherrie, had been working on me for about three years to move. In January, as we sat down and discussed out 2002 goals, I surprised her by finally agreeing to change locations. We have lived on Wychwood Lane since July 1988.
Our son, Kevin, now a teenager, needed a larger room, and Mom and Dad wanted, desired, craved and needed their own bathroom.
I left the house hunting up to my wife and Realtor Ron Liptak of Re/Max Valley Real Estate, and they looked at plenty. My prerequisites for the new house were basic: It must have a two-car attached garage; it must be brick or have vinyl or aluminum siding; the yard must be reasonable to cut; and it must have our own bathroom.
More requirements
My wife, of course, had more things she wanted in her new abode.
After all, I cared not about whether a room had wallpaper, whether the kitchen flow was satisfactory, whether the chandelier matched our current dining room furniture, if the front, side or back yards had trees, or if the woodwork was too dark or too light.
We had been going to open houses on Sundays and poring over real estate books since March, but the "The Hunt for Brown House 2002" didn't really get serious until April. We put our South Side home up for sale April 5 and we accepted an offer April 12, Cherrie's birthday.
My wife had limited The Hunt for Brown House 2002 to Boardman. She loves the convenience of shopping, restaurants, grocery stores, and other amenities the township affords. Having one of the top school systems in Mahoning County doesn't hurt.
It was little old me, however, who happened to see a "house for sale by owner" on Mayflower Drive. I took down the number and made the call to get the essential info. Ron made the initial contact to get inside and reported back, "This house is worth taking a look at."
We finally got a chance to meet the owners and look inside May 31. It was love at first sight for my beautiful bride of nearly 16 years. We made an offer that day, and the couple, thank God, accepted it. Mayflower, here we come.
The fun begins
Now the fun part begins -- moving 14 years of stuff and many memories. By the way, our electric stove is for sale. Frigidaire, excellent shape, $75 or best offer.
Meanwhile, during The Hunt for Brown House 2002, I turned 50. I had to work on my birthday, so my colleagues at the paper surprised me with a cake and some appropriate gifts -- a cane with a rearview mirror, a bottle of prune juice, a box of bran flakes, and, of course, a large roll of toilet paper. After all, old folks like me need to stay regular, they chuckled.
The most telling thing I received that lets me know that I'm officially an older person was my special delivery in the mail three days after my birthday -- a card and invitation to join the AARP.

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