Won't You Be My Neighbor?*

Monday, March 16, 2009
When we first moved into the Yellow House, we had neighbors on both sides. On the south side lived a couple with their young son. He was an Army officer, she stayed home and was raising their child. They have since had another son, and he's now a postal inspector. Their boys are the ones who use our basketball hoop now that the SmartBoy has other fish to fry, and they're decent people and good neighbors.

On the north side was another couple. He was an engineer with a defense contractor, and she was a bookkeeper. They subsequently adopted a baby girl from China. They were also decent folks and good neighbors - they were quiet, took good care of their property and were friendly without being invasive.

Then the northern neighbors decided to buy a larger home, as they wanted to adopt another child. I really had no emotional attachment to them, but I was somewhat disappointed when they sold the Blue House because they were good neighbors.

The couple that bought the Blue House was older, whose children were grown. He drove a cement truck, and she worked at Home Depot. They had two dogs, and while they didn't take as good care with their property as our previous neighbors, they were decent people.

Then he was laid off from his driving job. Like a lot of Americans, they didn't have sufficient savings to hold them over, and so they moved out and decided to rent their home in an effort to continue to make the payments.

The first set of renters weren't that bad. In the first six months they had broken the garage door (that was fixed) and the sprinkler system (that wasn't). The grass died, the weeds were out of control, and there were cigarette butts all over the place. Now I really don't give a crap about how these renters maintain the property. But the weeds and the butts have a tendency to spread onto our property, and the entire place was starting to look decidedly ghetto. But at least they were quiet.

After less than a year, these renters had their water turned off and they left in the middle of the night.

The next group to move in was several single guys. They had their kids over on the weekends, and after they had been there for about a week, SmartMan started to call them "2Fast2Furious" because they had souped up Hondas that gave them a great deal of pride. These guys were not quiet.

They washed their Hondas several times each week with their stereos playing rap or other bass-heavy selections turned up so loud that I couldn't go outside without getting heart palpitations. They allowed their kids to run wild in the streets on their bikes and scooters without helmets, without adult supervision, and apparently without instructions on how you should move out of the way when cars attempt to drive down the street. They set bonfires in their backyard. They had loud parties. They and their friends (who also drove Hondas) parked their cars in the middle of the street. they used the side of the Blue House as a dumping ground, leaving couches, televisions and other detritus to gather in the elements.

They also eventually drifted away, after their Hondas were towed away by repossession specialists and the Douglas County Sheriff's department. The water was turned off once again, and the last guy left (you guessed it) in the middle of the night.

Then the poor, Blue House stood empty. For months and months. A landscaping company would come out periodically to weed-whack the yard - the grass had long-since died, and the HOA gets pissy if the weeds get above a certain height.

And we waited for a new neighbor. And waited. We suspected the house was being foreclosed, but we didn't know for sure.

Finally, about six weeks ago, an investor bought the property and started to fix it up. The "For Sale" sign went up last week, and this weekend brought a number of folks to come look at it.

There are three foreclosed homes on the way to the open space where we walk Boogie - less than a block. All are forlorn and empty, and it's thoroughly depressing. For me, each of those homes represents a family whose dreams and aspirations were crushed. I don't know if they were foreclosed due to a job loss (like the Blue House), or because the family overreached. It really doesn't matter - these families lost their homes, and it saddens me to see them.

I'd really like to have good neighbors again. Neighbors who will care for the Blue House and make it their home. Won't some nice person or persons please buy the Blue House? But only if you can afford it.


*That is probably the first and last time you'll see a reference to Mr. Rogers on this blog. While I understand his popularity and admire his service to children, his shows put me in a diabetic coma.

6 comments:

Jim Wright said...

What you need is for somebody like Mr. Rogers to move into the blue house.

Janiece Murphy said...

I'm down with that. Mr. Rogers would be a great neighbor.

Carol Elaine said...

You could totally knit him a cardigan with the honking skeins of yarn you just purchased.

Janiece Murphy said...

Carol Elaine, cardigans are far beyond my skill level, alas.

Random Michelle K said...

You'd best not go to Pittsburgh with that attitude about Mr Rogers. :)

He gave the commencement speech at WVU one year. All the graduates sang along with him.

Mr Rogers was the most awesome person in the entire world.

mom in northern said...

I seem to remember two little people parked in front of the TV mesmerized by Mr. Rogers.
Captain Kangaroo was big too.

Both of those gentlemen come with very interesting histories by the way...

Then there was the whole Sesame Street crowd.