Six Degrees of F. Scott Fitzgerald

The local newspaper recently ran an article about an old apartment building that is scheduled to be demolished. Apparently F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in the building when he was a child–around the turn of the last century.

He’s not the only author to darken those halls.

Imagine my surprise when I looked at photos of building the article referred to as 501 Catherine Street and discovered it was the same building in while I lived when I first went out on my own: 735 East Willow Street.

Let me give you a tour.

east willow 03

I lived on the third floor, in apartment 9. In the above photo, the two windows on the third floor of the brown brick section were my bedroom.

east willow o6






In this photo, two of the three windows on the front of the building (the painted-red section) were my living room.

(The third window belonged to a vacant, burned-out apartment my roomies and I once tried to explore.)

There were many wonderful things about this apartment:

The ancient Norge gas stove that worked like a charm (oh, how I wish I still had that stove!)


The cat loved sitting on the counter. And yes, that is a Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” poster hanging behind the stove. It’s possible F. Scott’s mom cooked his meals on that stove.

The wide pine-plank floors that gleamed like honey when the sun poured through the windows.



The rooftop access–we essentially had a private third floor terrace.


We would leash the cat out there so she could get fresh air. We could also keep an eye on our cars. (Mine was the dark blue Firebird next to the yellow VW Beetle.)

Other photos:


Yes, that’s the Tolkein Mural hanging on the sloped ceiling over the sofa. And yes, I sat on that sofa with my mom’s portable typewriter and pounded out dreadful attempts at novels.


I’m not sure it’s visible in this photo, but even when I lived in the building, it was falling apart. The landlord had someone come in and bolt the facade of the building to the wood floor with steel bands. We tried to cover the bands with a black and white area rug.


Import stores were my favorite place to shop.


My great-grandmother’s blue willow dishes dressing up the table for a dinner party.  And yes, I still have that round blue Panasonic transistor radio (hanging over the calendar).


On the right side of this photo, you can see my grandmother’s Aunt Jemima cookie jar.

Two photos I don’t seem to have are of the stairs going up to the roof and the Milton Glaser Bob Dylan poster hanging on the bedroom door.

I sometimes dream I’m living in that apartment again.

It’s a shame something wasn’t done to save the building a long, long time ago.


3 thoughts on “Six Degrees of F. Scott Fitzgerald

  1. Vonnie Kennedy says:

    Wow, Molly, did you think when you were taking these pictures back then, you’d be a successful writer, today?
    Thanks for sharing.


  2. L.A. Sutton says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the trip down memory lane, Molly! Loved the old photos too. What a great story.

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