My First Apartment Story

Everyone can remember certain firsts. 

 The first best kiss (that was with Sean McDermott in his garage in his backyard in about 8th grade) I think Sean is now happily married (not sure about kids) and living in southern California.

 The first illegal allnighter. I talked about that in my 100 things about me post  #48; senior year in high school.

 The first job and first car…the car was such a cherry! Ahhhhhh, the memory.


Next up is the first apartment.  When I got my first job, it was really important to me to become independent. I mean, I was very, very thankful for all that my parents did for me. They paid for all of my schooling, room and board, books and even gave me an allowance while I was at school so I didn’t have to work if I didn’t want to. I was so lucky and I honestly felt that I needed to be on my own just taking care of me after I got my job and car.  So, I went looking for an apartment that wouldn’t be too far away from where I was working.

Now, if you know the city of Pittsburgh, there are just some places that a little white girl shouldn’t go to find an apartment. I’m not being racist here, I’m being honest.  Well, the school that I was teaching in was in a section called Homewood. It is a tough section but I was absolutely never afraid for my safety for one second that I worked there.  It is on the eastern side of Pittsburgh so I decided to look at the eastern city and suburban areas for a place.  One very nice area is called Edgewood, so that was the first place I looked, but, the rents were all around $375/mo plus utilities (don’t laugh folks, this was 36 years ago, remember!?!) Well, my salary was only $8600 for the year and that was before taxes and retirement deductions, and healthcare deductions and the car payment…so, $375 was out of my price range. Well, the next immediate area was Wilkinsburg.  Wilkinsburg was considered a suburb of Pittsburgh but it bordered on the city limits and one of the bordering neighborhoods was Homewood.  Hmmmmm, well, WIlkinsburg also bordered on Edgewood so I looked for a place that was on the border and found what I considered to be a perfectly adorable apartment on Walnut Street which was literally RIGHT on the border. My part of the street was Wilkinsburg (lower taxes and rent) and the other side was Edgewood (higher taxes and rent).  My rent was $150/mo plus utilities. THIS I could afford!


So, I went out to a store called Castro Convertibles, a very neat store that had all of this furniture that was like transformers! It could be turned into all kinds of pieces.  I got a really nifty cocktail table that lifted up and opened up into a dining room table that sat 8 people! I went to JC Penney and got a sofa bed…queensize–and that was huge at the time…it even had a REAL mattress!  I bought these items with my brand new MasterCard that I had to put down an escrow deposit with the bank (long defunct Western PA National Bank)…credit line…DON’T LAUGH…$350.00 …they required the escrow until I demonstrated I could pay it off…which I did within 6 months of course!


With the help of my parents, of course, I moved my bedroom furniture and other stuff from my house that was ‘mine’ into 1002 Walnut Street 3rd floor rear.  I had one bedroom with a really nice big bathroom and a common living/dining room and a really big kitchen. The house had basically been renovated into 6 apartments and everything was new.  New, with little ‘charming’ quirks.  I had a lump in my bedroom floor. Not a little bump, but a rather high  and long lump that stretched across the width of the floor.  I never really did find out what caused the lump. The owner’s son lived in the apartment across the hall from me and we got to be buddies. He came over to check it, and we couldn’t figure it out, so I just vacuumed around it and made sure not to trip myself everyday.

Then, there was the height of the shower head in the bathroom tub. Mind you, this was not a problem for me because I am vertically challenged at the grand height of 5’1″ on the best day of my life. But, I met DD when I lived in this apartment and being the wanton heathen that I am, when I had begged DD to stay over company for the evening, the shower head hit him about near his belly button…very funny…for me!

Then there were the steps coming up to my apartment. The steps actually had a gangsta lean. Seriously.  You kind of had to sway back and forth like you were on a cruise ship during a storm to walk up the 3 flights to my apartment. I thought it was charming 🙂 .



BUT, the piece de resistance was the univited guests that I had.  My neighbor buddy had pets, cats and dogs. Now, part of the lease said that no pets were permitted, but when you are the son of the owner, you know, rules…what rules?  Well, I liked animals so of course I let the cats and dogs in my apartment.   just run in and out, get petted and be gone. Uh-huh.  I moved into the apartment somewhere around February or March from what I recall.   I started dating DD in June.  Around September I started having what I thought was an allergic reaction to something. I didn’t know what, I just knew I was itchy and getting welts. So, I went to my old dermatologist and he took one look at my arms and legs and asked if I had a pet. Well, no, I don’t have a pet, but the guy across the hall does. Well, I was covered with FLEA BITES. WTF…..FLEA BITES!!!!! The doctor gave me a shot to relieve the itching immediately and gave me cream and said I had to have the place fumigated.  You guys don’t know DD…but I can tell you that if there is one thing that he canNOT stand, it is something like fleas.  My very hirsute honey would rather die then consider camping outside even one hour because of bugs!  Fleas would definitely put a crimp on our dating situation.  So, I told the owner he was going to have to pay for this cause it was his kid’s dogs/cats that deposited fleas in my apartment…certainly not me or my boyfriend!   At first he refused because his kid said, “I’m not getting bit…I have no bites on me…I don’t see any fleas on my pets.”  So I called an exterminator who came in and said the apartment was LOADED with cat fleas and they were bad and jumping all over the place.

Did you know there was a difference between dog fleas and cat fleas and that cat fleas are worse?  Me either.

Can you say, VOMIT?  I almost couldn’t hold a thing in once he told me that and to make matters worse, after the place was fumigated (I had to stay out for 24 hours while the bomb went off) I had to vacuum up all the little dead flea bodies…makes me shudder still now.  And the exterminator did go into my neighbor’s apartment and he said the cats were infested with fleas….BARF!

The mind is a terrible thing to waste and mine was being wasted on flea concerns.  After that, I couldn’t sleep in my bed again, I couldn’t sit on the sofa again, I didn’t want to take any clothes from the apartment.  Basically, I couldn’t live in the apartment anymore. The landlord did recognize that his kid was responsible for all of this and let me out of my lease since the kid was NOT getting rid of his pets, but he never did pay for the exterminator. 


So, I had all of  about 8 months of being Miss Independent and living on my own and I begged my parents to let me come home!  I really didn’t have to beg, they were really truly happy to have me back in the house…I had my own space, my own phone line, what more could one want? And they never charged me a penny rent….damn, I had great parents! I sold the sofabed (it really was clean, I just couldn’t handle its history!), got a new mattress and donated all  my clothes to Goodwill.  My dad still has the Castro Convertible table!!!

Here is the outside of Walnut Strret as it looks now…..in retrospect, I shoulda predicted……

(sorry for the yucky quality—taken with my cell phone!)


"Fleasville"  - 35 years later

"Fleasville" - 35 years later



7 Responses to “My First Apartment Story”

  1. July 27, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Oh my gosh… I dated a guy from Wilkinsburg and your old house looks just like one of my first apartments in Pittsburgh.

    I had a similar experience with (ICK) giant roaches in my third or fourth apt. Maybe I have to tell a similar tale.

    Great post!

  2. July 28, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    My first place had a bedroom with no wall and only one bathroom that was in the bedroom.
    My third place was falling apart, had a hole in the ceiling and the landlord poured acid into the bathtub to clear a clog…which then ate through the enamel cause the landlord was an idiot.
    My place in Mt. Oliver had the abusive basement neighbor, mice, an oven with a gas leak, and several transvestite black men who left needles all over the sidewalk and always had their utilities shut off and constantly asked us for water and butter. And there were gunshots every night.
    My place in Wilkinsburg had ants twice and they made me give away my ferrets.
    My current home is only partially finished and they make me speak a foreign language.

    Quit yer bitchin’ woman.


  3. July 29, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    fleas! Ick. Now I’m going to be itchy all day. Heebie jeebies! I want that coffee table.

  4. July 30, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    This reminds me of the story about the woman who recently got sued by the property managers of the apt. building she lived in for calling it moldy on Twitter. You might want to delete part of the street address!

  5. August 5, 2009 at 2:48 am

    Wish my mom had posted some blogs before she died. SO many of her stories died with her since they are just faded memories to me now. So on a good note, it looks like you may have about 288 days left to retirement based on my quick count. I know I would be excited.
    Thank you for sharing your personal stories with us.


  6. August 6, 2009 at 3:20 am

    what a great story. I should really talk about my first apartment. Hell. On. Earth.

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