Memory Lane: The Widow Next Door

I grew up on a dead-end street–a dirt road at first, then coarse gravel, then fine gravel, and finally paved–adjacent to the neighborhood school and playground, the high school football field, and a wonderful big woods.

Let me focus in on our next-door neighbor, Mrs. Thomas, an elderly widow. I say “elderly” because I was just a little kid and she looked elderly to me. Probably she was younger than I am now.

Mrs. Thomas had a dog, Old Brownie, who had the run of the neighborhood because he could be trusted never to abuse his freedom, and who was always available to listen to your troubles with a sympathetic ear. She had a large, tree-less back yard, ideal for our football games, and a hedge out front that served us for a volleyball net

You’d think she’d be unnerved by all these kids playing on her property, but no–she liked it. If you got cold or wet and didn’t feel like going home just yet, she had you in to warm up with some cookies. And there were always a couple of us available to run an errand for her: we had a little grocery store just around the block, and Mrs. Thomas didn’t have a car. We kids shoveled her walk when it snowed, and one or another of our fathers mowed her lawn. I think it’s safe to say that everybody loved her.

It was a long time ago, and it was a good time: I’m here to tell you it was better than the times we live in now. Old Brownie would surely agree.

P.S.–Thanks to Marlene, whose eloquent comment yesterday inspired this.

(If this called up happy memories for you, and if readers are interested, I can expand this into a series of sketches. There’s just no way I can summon up the whole neighborhood in just one blog post.)

3 comments on “Memory Lane: The Widow Next Door

  1. This brings up all sorts of wonderful emotions because it reminds me that humans are capable of love and kindness. It sounds as if it was flowing in all directions, back in your neighborhood.

    One of the most basic human needs is a sense of belonging. They’ve done experiments and shunning someone causes physiological changes almost instantly. OTOH, a sense of acceptance can work wonders for the psyche.

  2. Lee, please expand this into a series. I’m probably going through a nostalgic phase in my life and would welcome what you remember of the years past and where you once lived. I’ve been writing journal entries for years of my life as a Kensingtonian in Philadelphia’s Harrowgate Park area. I thought my kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, and so on would enjoy reading some of what I experienced. I am a memeber of a few fb groups that bring up this or that memory about Kensington. These often trigger one of my old memories and then I’ve got to get writing on it.

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