Saturday, January 3

The Neighborhood


Today, while driving home, I saw some kids playing basketball in their driveway. I thought to myself 'Those kids have no idea there once was an old lady who lived there who refused to leave it even as it fell apart around her.' I know this because I've been driving up that street for over 25 years. There really was an old lady who lived there in her dilapidated house. It was the eyesore of the neighborhood but the woman clearly could no longer care for herself much less her house. Neighbors complained and her family tried to place her in another home but she would always bust out and return to her old house. This went on for a few years before she finally stopped coming back. I don't know if she died or just got accustomed to her new digs. The house was eventually sold and refurbished and now looks great. I doubt the current owners know anything about that old lady or the once terrible state of the house.

There is another house where an old lady lives now. There used to be a big tree growing in the front yard but it died and was removed. It's not been the same since. The woman of the house seems to have been a widow for a few decades. I never saw an older man there. She does, however, have a son who visits. He has some sort of disability. His limbs are too long for his short torso. He wears his hair long and curly and although I'd know him anywhere, we've never spoken. Lately, I've been worried about the woman because newspapers were piling up on her driveway, a sure sign she was away. Was she on vacation? Was she in the hospital... or worse? I asked Mom about her and we both admitted that we were tempted to stop and move her papers at the back door, out fo sight, for her. I'd hate for someone to rob the poor old thing because the papers indicated she was away. Mom said that somebody was removing the papers about every other day. Mom had been keeping an eye on them. A few days ago Mom reported that she had seen the woman standing at the door talking to somebody. I was relieved to hear she was ok.

Up the street is another old woman who celebrates Christmas like no other. She tricks out her yard in a light display that shames the rest of us. She sets up a giant nativity then a bunch of faux palm trees with lights. There are giant candy canes, a huge Santa and tons of other lights. I've been wanting to take a picture for years but never get around to it. Also, I don't want to scare the poor woman.

A few houses up for the light lady is the house where Dick used to live. Dick had Down Syndrome and would sit on the curb all day long, except for a lunch time break, waving to each car that passed. (Kaw, do you remember Dick?) One day a moving van arrived and Dick left. His parents had died and I presume he went to live woth family or in a group home somewhere. I often think about Dick and wonder what ever became of him. He was one of those sweet souls that even embittered teens would smile and wave to. I hope he did well when he moved. I hope he found another nice curb to sit on.

Of course, we still have Commando (my nickname for him, not his). He built a barricade around his house when he was robbed. He wears fatigues and trains all the time. When a power line burst into flames one night setting a nearby palm tree on fire Commando was there. Dad and I stood in the driveway watching the commotion as Commando jogged up the street towards the fire with a stuffed pack on his back.

Commando's neighbor set her beautiful house on fire one night. He rushed in to save some of her antiques but the house was a complete loss. It seems she emptied ash from her fireplace in a paper bag and set it next to the house. The hot embers inside lit the bag on fire which set the side of the house on fire. It took a few years but the place was rebuilt as an exact replica of it's former self.

I like my neighborhood. I don't want to leave but I can't afford to buy a house here so I'll have to leave. I hope to be in my next neighborhood long enough to get to know it as well as I know this one. Maybe I'll even grow to be one of the eccentric old ladies who over decorate for the holidays or refuse to leave even when my house starts to fall in around me. I hope so.

3 comments:

shandon said...

Trust me, people will be blogging about you -- or whatever it is folks will be doing to report the news -- in the far, distant future.

kb said...

I love that you pay attention to your neighbors around you just as much as my Mom and I do. Of course I remember Dick. All those years of driving up to your house...I still expect to see him standing on the curb waving to people as they drive by! And Commando. I almost forgot about that one. Too funny!

Trooperdog said...

I remember Dick! I didn't know that was his name, though. There was a guy who used to do the same @ Grandview and Highland Oaks.