For this week’s memory challenge I’m trying to remember the various neighbors on my block. Next door on one side, when I was very young, was an old woman named Jenny. Jenny made the best congo bars, a chocolate chip bar cookie, that was so sweet my teeth probably started to rot before I ever took a bite. I wore out a hole in the hedge going back and forth between her house and mine on cookie days. When Jenny was no longer there the Tuey family moved in. They were the ones who had the only Chinese restaurant in town. There was Linda, a few years younger than me but a playmate, a younger brother named Timmy I think and a baby I couldn’t remember. Their grandmother lived with them too and took care of the baby while the parents ran the restaurant. I remember that they grew a lot of the vegetables for the restaurant in the backyard and some of the greens would be washed and actually hung on the clothesline to dry. They had a cool clothesline that came into the kitchen. You could put the clothes (or the salad greens) on the line and then hand over hand bring in empty line and send the stuff out to the sun to dry. When Jenny lived there the house was neat and clean. When the Tueys moved in it was total chaos. Three kids and two working parents probably helped that along.
On the other side of that house was the house that straddled the corner. I don’t remember the adults that lived there but there was twin boys who came to visit and I would play with them. They loved to play up in my attic playroom with my mother’s storybook dolls. Alas the strongest memory I have of them is them throwing the dolls down the stairs and breaking them. They had a basement (well so did we) but their’s had one of those slanted doors that you could climb up and let trucks roll down. For some reason I remember sitting on the basement door and singing the song, “Oh playmate, come out and play with me.”
I don’t remember the neighbor directly next door when I was little. It must have been an unfriendly adult because I remember I wasn’t allowed to trick or treat there. But along about 5th grade the Truitts moved in. A big baseball loving family with a girl named Jan that was my age. Jan and I were friend on and off again. She’s the one who punched me in the mouth when I had braces for no reason that I ever understood and then lied about it.
Across the street was my grandmother’s best friend, Lisa deBenedetti. They had a ground level basement and you had to walk up this steep flight of stairs to get to their front door. The stairs always scared me because there was a space between each step and I thought I would fall through. What I loved best about their house was the basement. It was the collecting point for the yearly rummage sale put on by their Druids group. I used to get to try things on first and buy old handbags and high heels and hats for playing dressup. When the grandchildren came to visit we would play in the tiny backyard. I remember their clothesline…one of those freestanding ones with a center pole. I always thought it looked nicer than ours that was just a bunch of pipes my grandfather put in the ground and ran wire through. Oh, I just remembered they had a hedge of olive bushes around the front yard. Every year I would watch those olives ripen and rot on the bushes. I loved olives so much and wanted to pick them and bring them home to do whatever it was you did to olives but we never did. As far as I know they never did anything with them either.
Next to that house was Grandma Stotts (everyone in the neighborhood called her that) and Gilbert and Hazel Hills. I remember Gilbert as being really really tall and thin. Hazel had white curly hair and used crutches but I don’t remember why. She taught piano lessons.
Next to that was the duplex that, for a short time, my father lived in back when he first met my mom. It must have been a rental because I never remember anyone staying there for very long until junior high and Elivira Dorris moved in. That was about the time we had crushes on Bobby Sherman and Davy Jones and David Cassidy so we spent a lot of time listening to their records and pretending which one was going to fall in love and marry us.
There were more houses on the street but I don’t remember the people who lived there.
Your turn. Who were the people in your neighborhood?
We lived opposite an old lady, I say old because she was already 59 when I was born. There were not many children in the street so we spent much of our time over there playing cards or Chinese Checkers. She would also tell us lots of stories or sometimes we would even have coffee.
My most vivid memory though is the day I thought I killed her. My sister who was 2 years younger and I were mucking around and we tried to hypnotise her. Consequently she fell asleep. We didn’t know that though and when we tried to bring her back she didn’t wake up. We didn’t know what to do and my sister ran home for help. By the time she came back though she had somehow woken up so everything was alright. I was so glad that I had not killed her and we all laughed about it. She in fact passed away about 3 years ago at the age of 102 so I definitely did not kill her that day and I think she was the best friend that I ever had.
– Anne McKenna
Elderly couple with an unmarried daughter (“She’s an old maid,” my mom whispered) on one side, family with 3 kids on the other. Years later, the “old maid” was one of my patients. Out of the three kids, the one who caused the most trouble in the neighborhood ended up becoming a cop.