Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Cathy on a Tricycle 1977

Lisa & Darby Same Year

Monday, September 1, 2008

End of the Row

We did not share steps either, which means we lived in one of the upscale houses on the street!!Love, CLB

There is always room for snobbery. I think the residents of #13 could claim it, just by virtue of their single steps, but they had #13 and that, plus their placement among the neighbors pretty much cancelled it out. Thanks to my dearest old friend, I am reminded that the truly upscale folks in the neighborhood between the cemetery and the woods were those inhabiting the "end house". Any row of houses eventually ends and that last one is always slightly different than the others. It doesn't share steps and there is access from the front of the house to the back of the house. There is, however small, a yard that runs along the side of the house where normally another house would be. There are interior windows where the other houses have large expanses of wall, resulting in a brighter home. The owners of end houses were always well aware of their higher social status and often enjoyed rubbing the others nose in it by prohibiting any access to their yards. That's where the greased metal pole came in, the brambly thorn bushes, high walls with stones placed strategically so that it was impossible to rest one's behind on them. Fences. End people, quite frankly, were often anti-social. They certainly were not row-house people and despite their attitudes we would remind them that they were not single house people either. They were, just people who did not have to walk their lawnmowers around the block just to trim the front lawn.

Welcome to the Neighborhood

A recent meeting of our homeowners association included a protracted discussion about the sign in the front of our development. It is a fine sign, made of wood and engraved in gold letters, it is welcoming and attractive. That doesn't seem to be the mindset of a significant number of residents and it was decided to replace the sign with something more in line with "the flavor and distinctive character" of the community. It will be constructed of stone and will therefore fare better in storms and that sort of thing. That is fine with me too, I really don't care about the sign too much but I do take issue with the "distinctive character" of the neighborhood. There is really nothing very distinctive at all and that is exactly why most of the residents enjoy it here. Sleepy, suburban, upscale and boring. I grew up in a neighborhood that had a distinctive character and lots of flavor. There was the neighbor on the corner who put grease on her fence to keep the kids out. It didn't keep us out but instead created a laundering nightmare for our mothers. The other neighbor whose arguments created an occasional visit from the police. There were Apple Taffy on Halloween. If I gave those away here I would probably be arrested for criminal negligence. There were pick up baseball games played in the middle of the street. There were dogs. Not modern dogs on long, retractable leashes, but neighborhood dogs. Dogs that hung on the corner with the kids, dogs that strayed onto every one's lawns. On Winthrop Drive two houses shared steps to their front doors, except number 13. They had their own steps. I guess that was a way to make buying an unlucky number house somewhat appealing. Sharing steps turned the people next door into instant family. You overheard their conversations, smelled dinner cooking and shared space on the steps during long summer nights when it was impossible to stay inside an un-air conditioned house. Our neighborhood didn't have a sign in front. Our neighborhood didn't even have a name. When it was first built, it was advertised as "Lansdowne Park Gardens" but very few people called it that even when I was small and the neighborhood fairly young. If someone asked where I lived, I'd say "Winthrop Drive. The neighborhood between the cemetery and the woods." It was enough, my world was small. The mundane things that happened during my life in the neighborhood seem much more significant in retrospect. I was reminded of this today, when Lisa, an old neighbor (and resident of that special #13) commented on another blog. So, I thought I'd put this one out there for all the folks from Southridge, Clarendon, Winthrop, Ashbourne and Crestview. This is our blog. Feel free to comment and if you'd like to write a full post, e-mail the article to me and I will post it with you as the author. Photos also welcome.