Monday, April 18, 2011

(O) The Old Ladies House

Back when I was growing up, we knew all our neighbors. Next door was the Alden's, and the Durham's. Across the road was the Veach's and the Scott's. And further down the road to the north was the Heils, Rackaways, and Rainy's.

We were never uncomfortable knocking on their doors to borrow a cup of sugar, offer to rake their leaves, or sell them fund raising goodies from school. Sometimes they would even come and have coffee in our kitchen.

But further south of us were neighbors that we didn't know. The house was a bit isolated from the rest of the homes -and not as well kept. And it was owned by two old ladies.
Therefore it soon became known as The Old Ladies House.

In order to take our favorite walk, we had to pass their house. And sometimes when we got to the edge of their property, we would run past- until we safely reached the other side and continued our walk.

We were old enough and mature enough to know that these ladies were not witches, but there was something not quite right about them. They were strangers and never really made an effort to be anything else. They were both gray haired and wore belted dresses and once in awhile you'd see them on their porch just staring out into the fields.

The scariest part is that they had a grown boy living with them. Whose son it was -or what he did all day long- was another mystery to us. But they called him John D.

John D. was a big guy. Tall and dark headed. A cross between Johnny Cash and Matt Dillon, but not as good-looking. A bit Egor-ish, and slightly stiff in his movements- like he was marching almost...And about every day he would walk past our house and travel miles into town on foot. We didn't know if he had a job or just hung around at the pool hall or the taverns.
But we sure didn't want to ever meet him coming or going- or worse- bump into him after dark.

Whenever we saw him coming down the road, we would warn each other. " John D. is coming!"  we would whisper. " It's John D.!" we would say. "  Oh, my gosh- Run!-it's him!"  we'd holler...and then we'd hide behind the house or in the shed. And secretly spy on him as he glanced toward our house on his route into town.

Some time later, the old ladies and John D. moved away and we were happier children because of it. But the place down the road was forever known as The Old Ladies House.
After being abandoned a few years, some "bad boys" had ransacked it and it was falling apart. And when they lost interest in it- we took the opportunity to make it our clubhouse.

One summer day we took a broom and our favorite pages from Teen Beat magazine and proceeded to carve us a hangout. The place was full of dust and trash and peeling linoleum- broken windows, busted floor boards and corners thick with cobwebs. But with our flimsy posters of David Cassidy and Gary Puckett (and the Union Gap) smiling down at us, we had the best clubhouse ever! 

(We even played hide-and seek in the straw filled dog house. Ugh.)

We didn't spend as much time there as we expected. It was old and creepy and too far to run home if we got chicken. Soon we stopped going there altogether.

But even after it was finally torn town, the old road closed to make an expansion for the airport, and new neighbors moved house trailers nearby- I've never forgotten The Old Ladies House.

Or John D.


Name: Luana Krause said...

What an awesome childhood experience (did someone say Boo Radley?) We moved a lot when I was a kid, but it seemed like wherever we went there was a strange house in the neighborhood that we shunned. I think we just like scaring ourselves. Good times.

GAIL said...

What a wonderful post. Brings back many childhood experiences. All of us must have had an Old Ladies house near our neighborhoods. I know I did!
As a child we played in the strangest abandoned places!! And what fun they were.
Hugs, Gail

mybabyjohn said...

Wouldn't it be interesting now, to look into who held the deed back in those days and find out a little more about them. There is a story there I'm sure.
Fabulous post...held me right to the end.

Diann said...

What a fun and interesting childhood memory!

sisterlinda said...

Thanks for those childhood memories I haven't thought of in years...I think! I will probably be having nightmares of that old place and John!

I can recall the old floors and sweeping and dusting to make a place of our own. Back in the day we wouldn't get in trouble for trespassing or did we ever hear of the word rape or child molester!

Johhny Cash did write a song called "Big John" and now you got me humming and singing bits of it....gonna be stuck in my head the rest of the day(and yeah thanks for THAT too)

We sure did lots of things we would have never thought dangerous but in time, when we had kids of our own, banned them from vacant houses, long walks and creek beds!

Somewhere there lies a man known as Big John AND those two little old ladies!

Dee said...

Girl, you always manage to bring back memories! I swear we had similar lives in alternate universes.

Jan Morrison said...

that was a great story!
Sorry I haven't been about - I went to Vancouver from 'L' to 'P' but now I'm home, jet lagged as anything to find lots of nice comments. I'll be present for the home stretch of the challenge and look forward to your posts!

Becca said...

And whos kid was he anyway! LOL...did you ever find out?? How funny when we are kids how our mind works. :)

Lisa said...

Great post and wonderful blog! I'm your newest follower and will be back for more!


Margaret Hall said...

Ahhh, Rae...looked outside and I think that John D just passin' by lookin' for you girls out by the Old Ladies was priceless, as all your writing it, BlogFriend~! I think that memories are excellent for blog comments..THANKS for sharing~!

Cathy said...

We had a haunted house in our neighborhood growing up. We always scurried past it in a hurry. It stayed the haunted house all these years - like you, we had no idea who lived there if anyone and this was in a small town of a few hundred people where everyone knew everyone. Also, in the opposite direction, just two houses down from us lived a man and his brother - we just called the one man "the bad man" and his brother was "the bad man's brother." Every child in town had been warned against him as he'd been in trouble for molesting little boys. One day he stopped his car and rolled down his window to speak to me and I "high tailed" it to my house. Everyone knew about him and every kid was cautious. We had a bit of a quandary though--when I needed to go to someone's house that was to the north of me, I either had to cross in front of the bad man's house or across the street from him was the funeral home. Oh, my! Usually we just walked down the middle of the street--didn't want to put our feet on either piece of ground! As an adult, I heard that the bad man had moved to a nearby larger town and when I was there one time, I heard that his apartment had caught fire (as far as anyone knew, it was just an accident) and he was killed. Now I wonder about his brother - as far as I was aware, neither man ever married... You sure brought back a lot of memories today, Rae!