Friday, October 8, 2010

The House is Not For Sale

The Koors house is empty now.

It was quiet and their American flag was waving on the front porch when I walked out to get the paper early this morning, but no one was home.

It made me think back to when we first moved here six years ago. We didn't know anyone in Spanish Fort. Richard had lived in Mobile his first time through, and I didn't know what to expect from this tiny, country town on the bluffs of Mobile Bay.

The night we arrived it was storming. I'd driven with Dad from Baton Rouge to Indianapolis, where Richard and his dad were waiting for us. Our friends helped us pack and then the four of us drove two loaded pickups and a Penske 13 hours to south Alabama.

I didn't know anyone when I moved to Indy either, but by the time I left, I knew so many awesome people. A big group of us still keep in touch, mostly through Facebook and L O S T discussions. I miss them. Sometimes very much.

In Indy, Richard and I lived in a duplex on North College Street that was a few blocks down from Atlas grocery. Atlas was where David Letterman had been a bag boy as a teenager.

It was a small, old-school grocery, but I liked it because they carried andoullie sausage and authentic Louisiana ingredients for making gumbo and jambalaya. Tough stuff to find in the Midwest.

Atlas closed while we were still on North College, and I was so disappointed. But soon after a nice fellow opened a restaurant called Yat's a few blocks down and eased the pain.

I met him once. Louisiana people always seem to find each other. He was from New Orleans and sold large plates of etoufee and creole jambalaya with maque choux and a slice of French bread for $5. I stopped missing Atlas.

The other side of our duplex was vacant several months until a mixed-race couple from Cincinnati moved in with their roly-poly baby boy.

Their names were Corey and Megan and the little boy was Alex. Megan had long light-brown hair and she was a painter. She practiced "attachment parenting" and had an alternative immunization schedule for Alex. I think she was planning to breastfeed him until he was five or something.

I had no idea what "attachment parenting" was and Catherine got her immunizations by the book. But I was also nursing, so we had something to talk about.

Corey was light-skinned and a sculptor. He converted the shed where we were supposed to park into a studio where he hammered and welded wood and metal items together to make strange-looking figures.

I crept out there one night to peek at what he was doing, and I was amazed at how nice the former parking shack now looked. He showed me some of his pieces, and I commented that he made a door for the entrance. It was good work.

Corey was the first person I met who did that style of art. I'd only known painters and one mixed-media artist up to that point. He was tall and skinny with a goatee, and he wore dreadlocks.

They were both super-nice kids, and I remember thinking how young they seemed. I wasn't very old myself, but they seemed much younger.

I remember thinking they should've kept moving from Cincinnati to California, but they ended up buying a house on Winthrop Avenue in Broad Ripple.

We bought a house on Winthrop also, but less than a year later we sold it to move here. We made just enough money on that real estate deal to put a downpayment on this house.

It only took a few days to meet my neighbors in Spanish Fort.

First, I received a hibiscus plant from Sue Ronk with a welcome card and her telephone number. Next came a peace plant from Marilyn Allen with a card and a note that her high school daughter babysat. Last came an Easter lily from Miss Betty Koors.

Miss Betty was 85, and she brought it over herself. Then we walked around my elaborately planted yard and she told me what everything was. Miss Betty's yard was also elaborately planted, and she made some grumble that Miss Retha (the previous owner) bought everything and didn't know when to stop.

I imagined they had an unspoken yard competition going on, and grinned. Miss Retha was also in her 80s, and I met her at the closing when she teared up as we all signed on the dotted lines.

I felt bad that she was crying about us buying her house and made some comment about how the girls would love the upstairs bedroom that was decorated with wallpaper featuring bunnies in a flower garden. She left us her telephone number and a note to keep in touch. She also left us her cat, Snowball.

Catherine was 17 months when we moved here and Laura was 6 months. They loved Snowball and the yard and playing in the bunny room. I loved carrying them across the street and talking to grumpy Miss Betty. We had the same birthday.

Miss Betty died three years ago, and Nina came to live with Mr. Jerry. He can barely walk and has Altzheimer's. Last week Nina died.

It's strange to look across the street and not see somebody poking around in that gorgeous, over-planted yard. I don't know that they'll sell the house, but I'll be curious to see who moves in.

I'll have to bring them an Easter lily and tell them I have no idea what all's planted there. I never cared much for gardening.
Note: This is a repeat post from April. I don't normally do this, but today Mark's having a yard sale of Ms. Betty's things down at his house and it just seemed right. I never told her when she was alive how much I enjoyed knowing her, but I hope she knew anyway.


Holly Hill said...

What a sweet, touching story.

Candyland said... sweet.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

It's okay to repost. I had never read it. Nice. ";-)

LTM said...

@Holly: Yeah, I said before that I felt like I should've told her when she was here. But she wasn't that type of person. Still.. :o\ Thanks! :o)

@Candy: Thanks, guh~ ;p

@Sher: unexpected, sentimental day~ :o) Thx~

Unknown said...

I've been to Mobile a few times. It's a nice area.

I'm sorry you never had a chance to share your feelings verbally. But sometimes I think people just know. The fact that you made an effort to visit probably meant the world to her.

Jenna Wallace said...

Every time I move (and that is A LOT of times), I think about who was in my home and my neighborhood before I came around. I love that you feel a connection with Ms. Betty and Retha.

Scarlett said...

Aw, this is so sweet. It is a blessing the people God puts into our lives. We can learn so much from them. I often think how much our mind-focus changes with life. We go through so many "seasons". What a great blog and I'm glad you reposted!

LTM said...

@Anne: yeah, it's pretty--and we walked over several times a week. We're on the side of a hill, and it was hard for her to walk up to us. Her yard is no lie, gorgeous. Miss her. :o\

@Jenna: In this case I know! :D Ms. Retha's not far from us--she lives in Daphne now, so I still send her cards, see her at school stuff. It's cool~ :o)

@Scarlett: So true and you know how folks are around here. The characters. She was a salty old lady, but I liked her. Every year I'd get her something for our b'day. ;o) <3

Talli Roland said...

What beautiful stories of how people have come in and out of your life. Wonderful snippets.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Lovely. It's funny how time passes when we're not even aware of it.

Matthew MacNish said...

Great post Leigh! I miss having neighbors that I know and love. Here in GA people are mostly rednecks. And not the good kind either.

Morgan said...

I'm glad you reposted! I love the story.

Melissa said...

This is such a sweet, heartwarming story.

LTM said...

@Talli--Thanks! Everybody leaves something behind, yes? :o)

@Sue: so true and a great comment for John Lennon's 70th b'day! Ha~ :o)

@Matt: aw! you know, you've got to find those folks--sometimes they're hiding... (but is there a good kind? ;o)

@Morgan: You bet! Thanks~ :o)

@Mel: I kinda got all nostalgic on us. ;p <3

Carolyn Abiad said...

Wish I had a garden of hand-me-downs. Those are the best plants! Very sweet story...

RaShelle Workman said...

Your overplanted yard sounds fantastic. Love it when you can get to know your neighbors. Sorry she's gone. Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing. =D

Angie said...

Lovely post. It's so nice to have good neighbors and sad when they are gone. Thanks for sharing.

Mason Canyon said...

People touch our lives and sometimes they don't realize what am impact they have made on us. At the same time, I guess we don't really understand how much they touch our lives until they're not there anymore. Lovely post and a good reminder.

Thoughts in Progress

LTM said...

@Carolyn--my yard has actually done pretty well w/me staying out of its way... ;p

@RaShelle--yep, and I know. This was my first experience of neighbors flooding us w/welcome gifts and it was so cool. We have a great little spot here. :o) But it's sad when they're gone~

@Angie: Thanks, I know. I miss her everytime I look across the street and she's not there. :o\ <3

@Mason: It's so true, and you're so right. That's basically what happened here~ :o)

Hart Johnson said...

I didn't see it first time through, but I love the 'old neighbor' story.' My husband, curmudgeon that he is, seems to bond with every octegenerian on the block and I think it is good for him AND them. (and I am relieved you don't care much for gardening--I like pretty stuff, but not learning about or working on it all)

Unknown said...

An interesting post, loved the detail, so many lives. Carole.

Joanne said...

People enter our lives in so many ways, and always some part of them stays with us. A beautiful story. I clicked over from Mason's, enjoyed visiting!

LTM said...

oh, Hart, I'm so awful at gardening. :o\ I learned quickly to get out of this yard's way and let it be beautiful---right after I "weeded" all the angel trumpets. :D

@Carole Ann: Welcome--some glad you liked it~ :o) <3

@Joanne: It's true, and thanks for stopping by~

Unknown said...

Thanks for joining me, Leigh.

Unknown said...

I don't know anything about any of the people you mentioned but I was enthralled and captured. You made these people real to me (know they are real people). Thank you for sharing.


LTM said...

@Carole: Yes ma'am! ;p

@Clarissa: I can close my eyes, and I'm right there. Sitting on the back steps w/Megan, running my hand down that yellow pine door and being amazed at how good Corey was, driving 13 hours in the rain, Ms. Betty's grumpy comments... She liked to sit in her back window and play solitaire.

If anything, I'm glad I remembered it for me at least. :o)