Monday, July 6, 2009

Leif's Tenth to Eighteenth Homes - Manhattan, Kansas to Fort Drum NY and back- 1995 to 2001

When Leif left our old stone house in Manhattan, Kansas to live with Nikko, his fiancee then, they first lived in the yellow and purple house on the north side of the 800 block of Bluemont Avenue. They had a basement apartment. It seems this house, like others along Bluemont that once were nice family homes and were turned into student apartments by landlords that didn't care for the property, now seems to be boarded up and probably destined for destruction. Basement apartments in Manhattan weren't cheap. Nothing in Manhattan is, but they were cheapER, the closest thing to affordable. The apartment was unfinished, with the rock walls of the basement partly painted, but not fixed up, paneled, or anything. I don't know exactly when they moved there, or how long they lived there, but for the three years they lived in Manhattan, they lived in three different apartments, so it probably wasn't more than a year. The house was almost exactly through the block and across Bluemont from us, just over a block away, and convenient to KSU so Leif could walk or bike to classes. He was a student with part time jobs at places like the electronics department at Sears, and at Aggieville Pizza, which no longer exists. Nikko worked at a futon store in Aggieville, and later at local restaurants. I think they were married while living in this house.

When they left the Bluemont Street apartment, they moved nearly right across the street from us in the 800 Block of Moro Street, into the basement apartment there. That house was another former family home that had been converted into apartments by a landlord and had erstwhile been a "party house" with groups of students that whooped it up all night on weekends and about drove us nuts. By the time Leif and Nikko moved in there, a calmer group was living in the house. This basement apartment at least had windows that were partially above ground and could be opened. They had rock walls again, but it was fixed up a little nicer. It was still a walkable distance from KSU and Leif was still a student. To get into the apartment, the stairs went down from the back of the house, right from the yard, and they were steep and unprotected from the weather. That meant that if it snowed or we had freezing rain, they were extremely slippery and dangerous. Nikko fell down them once when they were in that condition and got terrible bruises. Luckily, I don't think she broke any bones. The landlord should have been required to cover that stairwell to make is safer.

Although the lived across the street from us, we didn't see them all that often, though they were often at our house for Sunday dinner or special occasions like family birthdays and holidays.

From there, they moved to an apartment complex on Stagg Hill on the southwest side of Manhattan and shared a two bedroom apartment with a friend to help with the rent. This apartment was a lot nicer. I remember it being on the second or third floor. If my memory is correct, this is the last place they lived in Manhattan before they got into such financial difficulties and Leif was working nights full time to try to keep up, and finally quit school and enlisted in the army.

His next "home" was Fort Benning, Georgia, where he went to Army Infantry Basic training and lived in what once were called barracks but the new facilities don't look at all like the old barracks. They are huge brick buildings. After he graduated from training he and Nikko were stationed at Fort Drum, New York and lived in a military housing area constructed in Watertown. it was a complex of apartment buildings and they lived on South Hycliff. We visited them there in the summer of 1999 before Leif went to Bosnia in the fall but apparently either didn't think of taking a photo of their building or I just can't find it.

Nikko lived there while Leif was in Bosnia, where he lived in at least three different camps. I never found any photos he took of them, but he did make a video tour of one of the bases. He was in Bosnia for seven months and returned in the spring of 2000. That was the summer that Nikko left him to go back to Kansas. Leif spent the next nine months there in misery, trying to get his asthma diagnosed and treated, sick, depressed and lonely.

He finally managed to get medically retired from the army in May 2001 and moved back to Manhattan, Kansas, where he again lived in the old stone house with us, the third time in his life, for that summer. He was in a deep depression and we were terribly worried about him and glad he was with us so we could try to help. He was one of those who should have been treated by the VA for depression and possibly PTSD, but knowing Leif, he probably never told anyone how he was feeling. Show no weakness.

He lived with us from May until August 2001, when he moved out and started school again at KSU.

The photos are:
1. Leif in the fall of 2001, cropped from a family portrait.
2. South Hycliff Drive in the military housing area in Watertown, New York. I think the building Leif lived in is on the lower left on the corner, set back from the street.
3. The house on the 800 block of Bluemont Avenue where Leif and Nikko lived in the basement.
4. The house on the 800 block of Moro Street where Leif and Nikko lived in the basement.
5. One of the apartment buildings on Allison Avenue on Stagg Hill like the one Leif and Nikko lived in.

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