Saturday, July 9, 2011

That Crazy Lady at the End of the BLock

As a child, growing up in Detroit on Fernhill Street from 1942-1952, there was a little old lady who lived in the corner house at the end of the block on our side of the street. There was a fence all around her house. Sometimes on my way to school in the morning, I would see her come outside in her bathrobe, her grey hair disheveled around her face. She would get her paper and go back inside.

We kids called her the "crazy lady" and we were all afraid of her. On Devil’s night, we formed a group and took chalk and wrote on the steps of some of our neighbors’ homes, "Kilroy Was Here."(*). Almost all the houses had front porches and steps. I never went inside the yard of the "crazy lady", however. I don’t know if my friends ever did or not.

That was the extent of my vandalism.
* * * * *
I told you that little story, to tell you this.

Last week I was in my yard laying mulch alongside my driveway. In order to move the solar lights I had placed there further back from the edge of the driveway – so my grand-daughter would stop accidentally knocking them over when she pulled out of the driveway.

I looked up to see an SUV pulling up to my curb. The portly black man inside waved me over. Smiling, he said, "Just wanted to let you know, you make me feel ashamed.".

"Ashamed? Why is that?" I asked.

"Because," he said, "you’re always out here working so hard in your yard. I saw you a few mornings ago as I drove off to work. You had parked your car on the side street at the back of your yard, and you were lugging bags of mulch from your trunk over into your yard. I can’t do that myself."

I laughed and said, "Well, I’m 73 but I can’t really take much credit for what I’m able to do. I’ve been blessed with healthy genes, I reckon. My dad was a little runt of a guy and he lived to be 87 years old. Besides, I love to work in the yard. And it’s good exercise," I added.

We talked a few minutes more and I explained that I had moved from a condo in Franklin where I had no yard, no garage, and people telling me what I could or couldn’t do. So I bought a house with a yard and a garage. I told him I spent the first day sitting in my car in my driveway clicking my garage door opener up and down at least ten times!

We talked a few more minutes and then he drove off. But not before I told him he had made my day!

And then, two nights ago, my doorbell rang about 7 p.m.

But I need to explain something first.

My son had loaned me a riding lawn mower at the beginning of the summer. Being the corner lot, my yard is bigger than most on my street. The riding lawn mower was fun but the blades were old and bent and left funny ridges in the lawn and the tires kept going flat. I couldn’t keep it repaired myself so a few days ago I went out and bought a cheap, light-weight, my size, little red push mower from Home Depot. They raised the rear wheels for me in the store so it would cut high and adjusted the handle and put it in the back seat of my car and away I drove.

I managed with some difficulty to get it out of the car – me ‘n God can do lots of things I can’t manage by myself – tightened the handles to the base – and away I went. Mowing lovely straight squares – for about 30 minutes. And then the left rear wheel fell off!

What?!!!! Oh, Fine, fine.

So I go get a wrench, place several old books from my future garage sale underneath the base, and proceed to tighten the screw bolt that attaches to the wheel. And away I go. And then the wheel falls off again. This happened 2-3 more times til I finally put the lawn mower up for the day.

A few mornings later, I was outside mowing again. The wheel fell off. Again. My across-the-street neighbor was outside in his yard and I called him over to ask if he could tighten the bolt. He did. The wheel stayed on and I finished mowing. A few days later my son stopped by and tightened it again.

The tire has not fallen off since. HAL - LAY - LU - YUR!

And now tonight the doorbell rings. It was my across-the-street neighbor. " Well, hello," I said.

"I hope you won’t think I’m being presumptuous," he said – and I’m thinking, "uh, oh, what have I done now?" --

– but my wife and son and I were talking about this and I just wanted to offer to mow your lawn for you."

I grinned and said, "well, that is so very thoughtful of you. But I hope you won’t be offended if I decline your offer. I really do love mowing my lawn and working in my yard. It’s hard sometimes, but I love it." And then I explained about my Franklin condo and why I moved here.

We chatted a few more minutes and then HE left.
* * * * *

I think I have become "that crazy lady at the end of the block"!!!

(*) "Kilroy Was Here" was a popular slang expression during and right after WWII; I believe it originated in the Military.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this. What special neighbors you have.