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.
Posted by Rae Frazier