Sunday, February 7, 2016

Marty Hergert via StoryWorth
205 Dublin Court Blue Springs Mo 1978
In order to buy their first home, my parents applied for a Federal Housing Administration "sweat equity" loan from a bank in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, called Blue Springs. The first bank had turned them down because they didn't have down payment so the FHA loan was their only hope. My mother was 25 and my father was 27 and I was 7. My dad was assistant manager at a variety store called Matco at White Oak Plaza in Blue Spring. In order to qualify for the loan, they had to agree to invest their time and labor (aka 'sweat') to pick out and install light fixtures, paint the house (inside and out), and wallpaper.
The house was new construction which started in the spring of 1978 in a subdivision called "Palo Park." It was carved out of farmland off US Highway 7 south of Blue Springs, Missouri. At the time "7 Highway," as it's referred to locally, was a two-lane road through the entire length of Blue Springs, a city of about 10,000.
Palo Park's entrance had a double-sided wooden sign with the subdivision's name in large letters on both sides, announcing to cars traveling from north and south that new homes were available starting from $25,000. In the mid 1970s, developers purchased land in this area for new housing tracts. They would 'subdivide' the acreage in lots, map out streets — with numerous dead-end cul-de-sacs — and create a neighborhood that was completely devoted to winding streets and uniform style houses.
Developers named their subdivisions pleasant, pastoral names. Near Palo Park were Deer Run, Lake Village (which did have a small, manmade lake), Keystone Estates, Manor South, and Pheasant Run. The subdivision plans called for very few through streets. You didn't drive through a planned subdivision to get anywhere else, you entered because you lived there or were visiting someone who did. The streets were quiet and empty most of the time.
When you wanted a new house in Palo Park, you drove past the billboard sign and, just past the entrance, to the right there was a cul-de-sac with about five 'model' homes. Future home owners walked through the models to see what their new home could look like. I remember going through each one with my mother and father. The styles were mostly split-level, with a center entrance and a two-car garage at the ground level. A double-set of stairs led up to the main entrance on the second level. The yards sloped on the front down to the street. The driveways were long — enough for 4 to six cars — and completely flat.
The garage in one of these sample homes was used as an office. You went through a regular set of doors (that would be later replaced with a real garage door when the subdivision was built out and the home sold to someone.) The model homes smelled or new carpet, dry wall, and paint. They had textured, sprayed-on 'popcorn' ceilings. Most had three bedrooms and one bathroom with a shower and bathtub. There was a living room, a small dining room usually connected to the living room and the kitchen.
We looked over the map and the available lots. There were some along Killarney Lane and Shamrock Place but Killarney Court was full. We picked an open lot in the northeast section on Dublin Court — a cul-de-sac with just three lots of eight left. Our house number would be 205.