01 September 2008

Block Party

The first house that I remember living in was one of four nearly identical little houses in a row. They were clearly built from the same plans, in about 1920, but each one was a little different. One had square porch columns, one had round ones. Ours was shingled, next door was stucco. One of the four houses was completely overgrown and rather neglected, and was owned and occupied by a pair of unwed brothers. We never saw them.

We moved out of that house, but only around the block. So the neighbors were all the same, the friends were still right there, the communal events continued. But we still never saw either of those brothers.

Eventually one of two died. The surviving brother started showing up at the neighborhood block party, the Labor Day party that everyone went to, including me, long after I'd graduated from college and moved into Manhattan. And because it was a communal pot-luck kind of block party, he always brought something. Amidst the seas of homemade salads and desserts and soups and potato pie, there'd be a package of Pecan Sandies or Fig Newtons. "Oh, the brother brought that."

Finally, the Labor Day party came to an end. The host got ALS, and they moved to an apartment and sold the house. But there was one last Labor Day, and one last block party, a big one, overflowing the backyard one last time. And the brother, for that last party, brought a pack of gum.

It was an utterly inept and completely charming thing to have done.



You know how one thing leads to another? Jen recently wrote about her daughter's birthday party, and how they encroached on their neighbor's lawn for the bouncy house. Her description of her neighbor forlorning cutting his lawn with scissors and lending them a solitary chair inspired this post in a roundabout way; I'd forgotten about the gum-bearing brother until I read that, and of course, today's Labor Day.

If you have eccentric neighbors, I hope they're the good kind of eccentric.

15 comments:

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I have the good kind AND the bad kind. The bad kind can really sap your energy!

flutter said...

it actually sounds fun

noble pig said...

Wow that is so weird and weird and interesting. What kind of gum was it? Doublemint? Fruitstripe?

Gotta Knit! said...

I've got one that has a beautiful and perfect yard that after the lawn services does she also works on. Then one day I saw her out there with scissors cutting all of the small area of grass to the same height. I just cracked up but I do enjoy her lawn and garden.

Aurelia said...

What happened to the post before this? just wondering...

jen said...

Amen. Gum can be useful on occasion, i love that was his offering.

Aunt Becky said...

After suffering through the worst kind of neighbors, I'm happy to report that my neighbors now are some of the best on the planet. It's freakish how cool they are.

Mayberry said...

I have almost entirely lovely ones too. I'm going to have to do my own post about the time a 90-yr-old dude almost choked at a neighborhood potluck (but was rescued by a doctor in attendance).

womaninawindow said...

This is brilliant! What a great story. Freaken perfect.

phd in yogurtry said...

Right at this moment, all immediate neighbors are good. No oddities. We're lucky.

Our former across street neighbor used to tinkle in her backyard to save on her water bill (large wooded yard, but still). And did she have to mention that? For the last several years she lived there, all she had in her house was a card table, a chaise lounge chair (the canvass strap kind) and a tv. That was it. No bed. No dressers. My husband was floored. I never entered her house.

So yes, definately eccentric. But she kept to herself. Never bothered anyone.

Kyla said...

We don't have any neighborly things, but if we did, I'd be the one bringing the Fig Newtons or other packaged baked goods. I'll have to add gum to my list of options. ;)

ozma said...

I think I'm the eccentric neighbor.

The good kind.

Actually, come to think of it, we do have an eccentric neighbor. And he's the good kind. But REALLY eccentric. Like, he kind of scares people a little.

Hip Mom's Guide said...

Gum, huh?! My kids would love that neighbor. The more gum, the better, they say.

And, aren't we all sort of eccentric, in our own way? I mean, we might not use our yards as bathrooms, like PhD in Yogurtry's neighbor (see above comment-yuck!), but all of us out here in blogger-land have friends we've never even met. We even know some of them better than people we see every day. Now that's weird! But, still, I like it. In a way, we get to pick our neighbors, good, bad, and eccentric. Yeah for us!

Janet said...

LOL I'm the eccentric neighbor in my neighborhood!

NotSoSage said...

I think we've taken over the eccentric neighbour's house. We intend to live up to the reputation fully.

Great recollection...