33506 Stonewood Drive
Was our home that our parents, Barbara and Vaughn Kraft had built back in 1967 so they could build a wonderful life for my sister Pam, my brother Billy, and myself. We had moved from our beginnings on Hollywood Street in Harper Woods where we had a pool in the back, to Ashland in Detroit, where we stayed a few months with our Great Grandparents while they finished building our house on Stonewood Drive. This was going to be our family house for the rest of our lives, the place where you could always call home, where you felt safe and loved, to go to at any time, so we thought, that is.
Our Mom “Bonnie, her dearest friends called her” and our Dad both worked hard at providing us a safe haven. Our Mom was a spiritual counselor, that helped so many people. At first it was just local people, then it was the Detroit police, and finally it expanded to all around the world with the invention of AOL, and the web. She was one special lady to not just us, but to all who came to know her, and those who needed her help.
Our Dad was one hard working father. He always worked to provide a roof over our heads, food on our table, and for a few extras in life. He rarely had days off, but when he did, he was sure to spend it with the entire family. So of course, those Sundays he had off, were our favorite days of the week! My memories of seeing the Kraft family and Amos will never go away. For most of his life he was in the retail end at Kmart, where he was the manager of their Sporting Goods Department, that also led to the Toys Department and Automotive as well down the road.
Then there were all our wonderful neighbors surrounding us there on Stonewood Drive. We had the Symons, who we were always the closest to, and still are. Don and Bev were like my second set of parents, and Jeff, Joel and Jeannie were my best friends growing up. We have a closeness that is magical. Jeanne and I now also have a bond with our rescue dogs we both got last year from the same home. There is nothing like sharing a dog family too!
The Varney family were so dear to me, as I was friends with all four sisters: Donna, Karen, Mary Jo and Cheryl. Different ones at different times in my life. Their Mom was the one who taught me how to cook my first few dishes, their home was a safe place when I had to run. Their Dad worked for Ford, so I always got to tag along to all the car shows down at Cobo. Great memories with them all.
Then there were the Foxes, Kaveloskis, Dulocks, Beatties, and Groves, who between the three of us siblings, had friends in their families too. We bonded with all of them at different times in our lives as our generations all grew up together. We went through sudden losses with them when we lost our brother Billy to a drunk driver, Tim in a car accident, that also disabled Chery for a long time, Colleen to a brain tumor, and the list goes on. These experiences all bond you. Births and Deaths.
Then the deaths of our parents started to occur as we got older. Our Mom was one of the first to pass, probably from a broken heart of losing her only son. Then Sharon, Jean, and then our Father. But guess what? We all attended the funerals, as we knew how important they all were there on Stonewood Drive. They were not just our neighbors, they were our Stonewood Drive Family.
Stonewood Drive was a street where every house had at least 2 kids, and up to 6 kids in a household. We were the average with three. We played outside from morning til night, in sunshine, rain or snow. We would go to our friend’s door and sing their name to come out and play. We would play monopoly all day long if it lasted. We played tag and hide and seek, knocked on neighbor’s doors and ran away, we were the generation of active playing, and imagination and creative play. We played baseball and football, rode our bicycles to the store etc.
We experienced one of the worst snow storms, as we got snowed in for days! The snow was at least 3 feet deep. We were in heaven with the snow forts we were able to build, all the way down from our house to the street. We experienced floods that flooded our streets so high, that we were able to use our small plastic pools as boats and float through our neighborhood! We experienced black outs, time after time. We got to enjoy the stars at night by laying on the cement sidewalks, and then during the day all the little planes flying above from McKinley Airport just a mile away.
Our parents escaped out of their house during a housefire, along with their dog, Precious. The fire started from a leak above from the central air unit, that hit our fuse box and started the entire house on fire. It started after 11 pm, and luckily our Mom was still up online chatting, and was able to wake our Dad up and get out of there safely. They ran to the Symons for help, and we arrived shortly after, to a house where they lost everything. It took months to get everything out of there and rebuilding our house.
Our parents had to live in a few different hotels while all this was rebuilding was going on. Our three sons (their grandsons) didn’t think that was to bad, because one of the hotels had a pool to swim in! The good that came out of having to rebuild the inside of the house, our Mom had the one long bathroom turned into two, and she had them finish the basement, with another half bath added there for our family parties. Our Dad had them build a garage, since we were the only ones on the block still without a garage until that point.
We had to start the growth charts on the wall all over again for the 6 grandboys. It was a fresh start but still felt like home to all of us. What started out as “our childhood home” became grandma and grandpa’s house in no time. For Halloween we came there to have a Chinese dinner before the kids headed out trick or treating. For New Years Eve, we went there to celebrate David’s birthdays and the striking of midnight with hitting pots and pans. For Christmas Eve, the entire extended family came over to celebrate Christmas. Granted our house wasn’t the biggest in the family, but we were the ones that hosted it because we enjoyed being close to all our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. For Thanksgiving we always went there to celebrate Aunt Debbie’s and my birthday as well, it was just the place we all wanted to be.
We experienced graduation parties, wedding showers, baby showers, wedding rehearsals and even a wedding in that house! Parties were just better at our house than anywhere else is what we thought, believed and experienced!
Pam and Dale lived there for years after her divorce, and Dale was surrounded with so much love while growing up with me, and his grandparents. Then when Dale needed a place to stay with his family before moving into his house nearby, they all got to be around Grandpa Vaughn and Gigi. So, it was definitely a home with many generations.
Unfortunately, as we experienced the circle of life, our Mom passed away, and our Dad married soon after. She sold her home and moved in with our Dad. We weren’t invited over for any Sunday dinners, only her son’s family was. That’s just the way it was. She made it quite obvious in many ways, she did not like my sister and I. No matter what we did for her, she didn’t consider us her daughters. We did get together there for our kids and great grandchildren, and continued to make memories there the best we could. We just wanted to be around our Dad, who was the kindest man ever. So, we took his lead and were kind to his wife.
Then, a year ago our Dad’s health started to decline rapidly, and we were losing him. It seemed like she was in denial, and wouldn’t let us talk much to our Dad about things. But once she left, he insisted to me that she was stealing the house from Pam and I, that her son was going to get it. Which didn’t make sense to us, so we confronted her about it. She denied that, and said she would never do that, that her son didn’t need it and was financially secure. She made my Dad feel so bad. He cried, and apologized for having such thoughts. He was humiliated. Well guess what, she lied to us, and most importantly, she lied to him. She lied to the man that had raised his children, grandchildren and even his great grandchildren in that home! Two months after his death she put her sons name on our Stonewood Drive home. Were our names added too? No. We were hurt, but most importantly ashamed to what she did to our Father. Show us the will we asked? Each and everyone of us, but she wouldn’t. So, our Stonewood Drive home is not anymore. That home of love and trust and haven for all is no more.
Memories were made there, from the day we moved in, until the day our Dad died there. We thought we would always be able to continue making those memories, generation after generation in that house filled with love. Our parents worked hard to pay off their mortgage and officially own that house on Stonewood Drive. Many years of hard work so they could continue to provide the safe haven for our family there. That place we all go to meet, no matter what is happening, we all feel like that is home.
So, generations come and generations go, and as we go through life together with all our experiences, we learn lessons, grow and move on. Some people are in our lives for a short time to teach a lesson, and some for a lifetime. Some people think family is the most important and will do anything for them, and we are lucky enough to still have that outside of the Stonewood Drive home we once knew and loved. We will stick together like we always have, and continue with old traditions and start some new with all our extended family. We don’t care if our families are blended, we don’t discriminate, family is family, and family is love to last a lifetime. (not when it just suits you)
God Bless all of you that have touched our lives on Stonewood Drive. We will always remember you, appreciate you and hold on to our dear memories forever. The good, the bad and the ugly, all have made us wonderful human beings that we all can be proud of! To all our wonderful parents that have raised us to know what is good, and to do the right thing, we salute you! Love you all, you know who you are😊
Vanessa C. Schwarz
Inspirational Writer, Music Achievers Conservatory &