The Old Women on the Corner

There were two older women neighbors when I moved in here.

The first one, across the street from me, has her house facing the cross street. She had a cool Shepherd, a recycled military dog that she adopted. She told me how to go about it, but the list was too long. I’ve only had a few conversations with her. One of them to thank her for corralling my two dogs back in to the back yard when the gate accidentally opened when my wife tossed her purse in the car (which was parked in front). I wish I kept the Ring video when she rung the bell. “YER GATE’S OPEN AND YER DOGS ARE RUNNING LOOSE! THEY’RE GONNA GET KILT!”

When I thanked her, she said she was going to try and close the gate but there was no way that big guy was going to let her in the yard. Indeed. She chased Aria across the secondary road back to my house. It was a miracle she wasn’t run over.

I used to see her from time to time with her dogs in the front yard. Then, a year or so ago I noticed her daughter(?) moved in. I think I saw her months ago. But then one day, after our little freeze, she was gone and the house dark. All her stuff on her porch, gone. Weird, since one of my cameras covering my front yard points in at her house and the other old woman across the street from her. My wife said her son killed himself, but I thought that was awhile ago. Maybe it was more current than I thought. But I never saw a truck move anything.

I did see a dumpster delivered.

Then the workers showed up. They were installing structural steel. You do that when you are opening up the floorplan in houses like these in my neighborhood. I get the sense that the daughter is fixing up the place. If it were a flipper, you’d usually see a flurry of action. This has the look of a relative fixing up the place to move in. I’ve seen it around here before. It’s been going on months. A flipper would have had the house done by now and on the market. Also, they usually have a sign out front. Besides, I think I recognized her stopping by to check progress.

Across from her, on the other side of the cross street, caddy corner to me, lived a really old woman. I think I was told she was 94 when I moved in five years ago. She’d be out every morning, puttering in the gardens or lawn. Sweeping, raking leaves, watering, and even mowing. More often than not, other oldsters in the neighborhood would visit. I got to recognize a few of them. For instance, one old woman that visited has a Mercury Marquis. You see one of those around here without chrome 22s, it’s a geezer for sure. I’ve also seen that car pulling out of a driveway in a house that borders the park.

During the big freeze, it seemed the whole neighborhood stopped by to check on her.

I’ve only spoken to her once (other than saying good morning when walking the dogs). That’s when she caught Jethro for me.

Jet was a pup still when we moved here. Maybe a year old or so. After all the training, he’d happily follow me around whilst working on the lawn. I cut down a fig tree and was dragging it piece by piece to the front with Jethro following me back and forth. One of the trips, he got a look in his eyes and bolted. He ran into the old lady’s back yard, and she shut the gate so I could grab him.

She was a neighborhood fixture.

But this last year, I saw her less and less. A few months ago on my way back with the dogs, I saw her chatting with an old dude that I see walking his dog about every day. That was the last I’d seen of her.

Last week, I noticed a delivery truck dropping off a dishwasher and a dude in the doorway receiving it. There was also a crew in the back cutting down a huge dead tree. One that I was about to ask a few neighbors to chip in and handle for her. I figured it was her son.

So I asked the mailman if he knew. Dude knows everything about the neighborhood. He said he heard she moved to her daughter’s and maybe had passed away and Carol from up the street bought the house to fix up and sell. You know Carol up the street, don’tcha?

Nope. Can’t say that I do.

Then I saw them working at the place that afternoon. I indeed know Carol. She’s the neighborhood street captain for the neighborhood association (Not an HOA). I’ve talked to her and her husband a bit. They own a few other houses in the neighborhood, including the one they live in up the street. My initial thought was FFS, the slumlords pounced fast didn’t they?

But no. They rent these houses and keep them up. They may or may not rent this one, but they then they are fixing it for sale, which is fine. Carol from up the street was one of the women that checked up on the old woman regularly, for years. They’ve lived here since the place was built and have an interest in keeping the neighborhood ethos.

I see the activity at both houses as a good thing. Generally when someone fixes up and otherwise renews a place here, it sells and usually a new, younger family moves in. Keep in mind that the old woman is the original owner, and the one across the street has been here before the real estate boom. So the really old woman probably only paid in the five digits for that house, the other maybe in the low 200s. The house next to the really old woman sold for the high 500s.

‘Tis a good thing because one of the two or three developers ruining the neighborhood didn’t scoop it up. They won’t be knocked down and a ridiculous McMansion built. Each one of the three snarfs up a house around here once a quarter or so. Although their preferences are properties bordering the park or the creek that runs along the park, they may have gotten whatever houses they could there and are now moving my way.

The first two or three houses they built are really beautiful. The rest are an abomination. Ugly as an inside-out monkey, as Jeremy Clarkson would say. Maybe it’s the new owners being cheap. All the newer ones have an impressive façade, but are built like garden sheds otherwise. They don’t say “Neighborhood”. They say “Compound”.

The other reason could be that both are corner houses. Zoning here is 30′ from the street. If your house is on a corner, that’s two sides that have to be 30′ back. I know this because my house is built on that 30-30 corner. I can’t go to the south, or east (front). So they can’t build as big a house.

Who knows. For now, a bullet has been dodged.