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1958, Alice Sue with grandson Larry Sue

1958, Alice Sue with grandson Larry

In 1957, our mom, Alice Sue bought a vacant lot on E15 St. in Oakland, 2 blocks away from daughter Helen & son-in-law Henry Owyoungs’ home.

Brother Ed Sue designed & I built Mom’s small 1200 SF, 3 bedroom house. Ed’s architectural training didn’t help much toward practical construction, so we acquired construction know-how from magazines such as Popular Mechanics and US Farm Manuals.

Fortunately the project was on a level lot so was relatively easy for inexperienced workers to build. We built the footings, did the plumbing, rough framing, and other aspects of the house, learning much from the process.

1957, E 15th St. Oakland

1957, E 15th St. Oakland

My wife Darlene, kids Larry, Steve and Linda, and our dog Brutus lived there for several years with Mom. But our family grew and the neighborhood rapidly deteriorated, causing us to seek more space and better schools. So we eventually went on to build a new homestead in the Oakland Hills. it was through these early construction projects that Darlene and I were able to support our family and build our nest egg.


  • Buy real estate where the ghetto can’t easily reach you
  • Sweat equity can pay huge dividends
  • Follow your heart and you’ll eventually find your pot of gold

One Response to “Our First Lessons in Real Estate: E15th St. Oakland”

  1. sjsue says:

    I for one am glad that we moved up to the Jewish neighborhood… of course we were surrounded by bused-in blacks, latinos and asians so our up-bringing was about as integrated as it gets. As far as I am concerned, it was all good!

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