Brick Church was the name of an appliance store on Main Street in New Jersey. Its namesake—an old redbrick house of worship—stood next door. Its congregation was in slow decline. The appliance store, on the other hand, was a busy place. Things were looking up. Our parents’ generation bought their washers and dryers there. They had them delivered to their new split-level homes “up the mountain”. This was the era that gave birth to the term “starter home”.
All of the houses in those new suburbs were built from wood on sites that only yesterday were a wood. A few trees were left in remembrance of shade. There were new streets and new schools, lots and lots of children. There were new churches built from concrete and steel. At the far edge of this new community was a relict patch of forest. The new mall had not yet been built. That would come later. For a few years, then, our parents would drive back down the mountain to the appliance store next to the old redbrick church to purchase big ticket items in order to enhance the value of their homes. This was a practice known as “upgrading.”
Eventually the new mall was built and nobody went down the mountain anymore to do their shopping. The appliance store went out of business and the building was demolished. Today it is an unpaved parking lot. The redbrick church itself remains standing but has been boarded up long since. Back up the mountain, the newness has worn off the suburbs. Over the course of years, our parents’ starter homes turned into something called “tear downs.” These structures were razed and larger homes put up in their place. We ourselves have moved on. Of upgrading, it would appear, there is no end.