My parents, Raymond and Estelle Konz, were expecting me when they bought and moved into their new home on Layton Boulevard. My mother said she always loved the tree-lined street of the boulevard and dreamed to own a home here one day. So in 1954, on my father’s City of Milwaukee policeman’s salary, they were able to buy this duplex, built in 1904. It wasn’t until after they moved that they announced to the rest of the family that I was coming along, the last of their six children.
This home brought them a nice income rental property in the upper flat, where my mother’s youngest sister and her husband moved after I was born. I have lived here for 61+ years — maybe longer than anyone else on the boulevard.
I have countless memories of family events with my brothers and sisters, a cousin who moved in with us after she left the convent across the street, and my aunt, uncle and cousins upstairs. I remember sitting on the front porch on summer afternoons with family and serving mass at Sacred Heart Sanitarium, St. Lawrence Church and St. Joseph’s Convent chapel. I have special memories of serving mass for the nuns when they took their final vows and at my three sisters’ weddings at St. Lawrence. Each of them was lovely walking from home to church in their bridal gowns.
Years of memories include St. Lawrence Grade School, Meurer’s bakery, Greenfield Flower Shop (it’s still there), Green River phosphates at Harris’s Pharmacy and piano lessons at St. Joseph’s Convent. Further up on the boulevard, we’d have lunch at Bruno’s Restaurant or the Walgreen’s lunch counter in the new Mitchell Park Shopping Center, followed by a visit to the super modern and exciting Mitchell Park Domes.
When my father retired from the police force in 1971 my parents bought a winter home in Florida. Over the years a brother and his wife, and two sisters and their husbands had their children here and helped maintain the house. My parents lived in Florida until 1992, when my father passed away in his beloved warm and sunny home. My mother returned to our Layton Boulevard home and lived with my partner, Greg, and me. We had a wonderful time of it and then cared for her here until she passed in 2001.
I inherited half of the value of the home and Greg bought the other half. The lower flat was handicapped accessible — perfect for Greg’s dad and mom to move into from Chicago. They lived here comfortably until his dad passed in 2005 and his mom moved to a supportive living facility. Our son Jeff moved here from Illinois, and still lives with us. And a dear maiden aunt who was disabled enjoyed living with us and a caregiver until she passed in 2011.
Because of all the lives this home has touched you can see why we affectionately refer to it as “The Shrine.” My partner and I have since married and this home is our refuge from sometimes-crazy city life. Now our granddaughter, who lives 1-1/2 hours away knows she has a room here on Layton Boulevard and will one day see herself as part of many years of family history.