Some dads watch football on Sundays, my dad swept the driveway and sidewalk outside our Bronx rowhouse. In the summer, it was a challenging job because in addition to the regular city soot and debris, my mother’s beloved mimosa tree, which due to its size should never have been planted there, insisted on shedding its feathery petals and tendrils anywhere it pleased.
In the fall, he exchanged his broom for a rake and raked the pesky feathery leaves of said mimosa tree in addition to the mighty oak trees across the street
Daddy was usually out there for hours at a time, doing a job that would have taken anyone else twenty minutes at most. Why? Nine times out of ten, one of us would look out the window and he’d be at the fence talking to someone. Look out twenty minutes later and he’d be out on the sidewalk talking to someone else.
A decade and a half passed, in which time I moved to California and back. Daddy lived to be 94, but fell victim to Parkinson’s Disease for the last decade of his life. Since I was responsible for his care, I was running back and forth to the house on Bruner Avenue daily. I cannot count the times I was stopped as I entered or left by someone who asked “How’s Doctor Fair feeling?” I had no idea who these well wishers were, but they knew Daddy. For this reason, we lovingly call Daddy the Mayor of Bruner Avenue.
What brings this to mind is my own love(?) affair with my driveway. Come fall and I am out weekly too – but for good reason. Living in a quarter-acre of forest makes raking akin to shoveling snow in the midst of a blizzard (been there – done that)
Since my property, with all its stone walls and fences does not lend itself to leaf-blowing, I haul the leaves up into the woods and construct cute little walls of leaves.
Daddy would be proud of me.
Or would he?…..
Sorry Daddy, the remaining quarter acre of The House of Mars has priority over the road So if you want me, I’ll be with my good buddies…
and we’ll be here….
or maybe here….
If we’re not there, we might be here…
Uh, oh don’t look now but the driveway needs a tune-up
Maybe someone will come by and talk to me.
Alas I have no pictures this week. That’s because the topic at hand may, or may not be all in my head. If you recall a few weeks ago I lamented about not having my camera with me when I saw an honest-to-goodness, gen-yoo-ine Pink Cadillac like Bruce Springsteen sang about. If you missed that post take a look.
Well, this is getting spooky. Last Friday I was setting out on my daily lunchtime walk around the office park where I work, and while I was still in the lobby what should glide past the glass double doors but – the elusive Pink Cadillac. I ran out but it had disappeared around the corner.
Yeah yeah, I can hear you. “Virginia, it’s all in your head.” Spare me, I grew up hearing that. Let’s not go there
On second thought – let’s do go there – to my high school years. I used to leave for high school early. Living in New York City, specifically Manhattan, meant you were on your own getting to school. Sure you got a reduced fare bus pass but there were no school buses except for the disabled. What this meant for me since I lived on West 150 street and my high school was on East 75 street, was that I had to take two buses, a downtown one and then a crosstown one. And since the home room bell rang at 8:25, I had to catch the 7:30 downtown bus.
So there Iwas at 7:20, walking sleepily down 150 Street toward the bus stop on the corner when a pack of stray dogs came trotting out of a courtyard I was passing.
“Don’t run, don’t run,” I reminded myself but still I picked up my pace, and they went their way, and I, mine. And oh yes, they were led by a majestic looking German Shepherd type with a snowy white coat.
I began to encounter them at least once a week and although I took more notice of them than they did of me, they were beginning to spook me – especially the ghostly white leader of the pack but when I’d bring up the incident at dinner, since none of my family had ever encountered this canine phenomena, I’d get the standard response, “Virginia, you’re imagining things – it’s all in your head.”
They may have thought it was funny, but I didn’t. Well, to paraphrase Richard Nixon, they wouldn’t have Virginia to kick around much longer. I’d soon be heading off to college. And what do you think happened when I did? They moved! Fortunately they told me where – to the Northeast Bronx. And they acquired my replacement – Duke, a sweet pupp-a-roo. Yes, Duke was sweet through and through, but he had a Napoleon complex toward any dog bigger than him. Being a medium size dog himself, this meant he was a war with a sizable portion of the canine population.
One morning while home for some break or other, I was walking Duke when what should come walking down the street towards us but a pack of dogs – led by – yep, a white German Shepherd! I managed to shake off the paralysis of shock in time to realize, not only was EL Blanco bigger than The Duke, so were all his cohorts. Duke noticed too
Having no choice, I dragged him into a typical NY neighborhood candy/newspaper store with a soda fountain. If I’d ever had a notion we could just slip in un-noticed and stand just inside the door until El Blanco and his gang were gone , it was dispelled by Duke’s lemme at em barking and growling .attitude
“You can’t bring a dog in here, “yelled the proprietor.
“Oh yes, I can” I stood my ground until the cost was clear.
Guess what the family’s reaction was when I burst in and telling them of my ordeal? Yep, all in my head.”
Did I really think the beautiful beast had followed me all the way up to the Bronx?
Well Let me just say that I’ve always had an interest in Shamanism. Shamans, natural healers, have spirit helpers called familiars who display the appearance of an animal found in nature – a fox, eagle, wolf, rabbit, etc.
So if you happen to see a white dog driving a pink Cadillac – don’t worry. He’s with me!
First of all I want to pat myself on the back for taking the high road and not naming this post “The Horny Question.”
I spent my late teen years in the Bronx. We lived just off of E. 233 Street which connects I- 87, also known as The New York State Thruway, and I-95 also know as The New England Thruway so E 233rd Street was a thruway between thruways, a four lane thoroughfare traveled by trucks, buses, cars, motorcycles – you name it!
Now this was a long time ago. Ok a long, long, long time ago. For an idea how long ago it was, I would walk on the street and guys in cars would honk at me. I told you it was a long time ago. Horns honking at me in the Bronx, and I guess anywhere, were the equivalent of construction workers and corner hanger-outers whistling and making kissy-kissy sounds. I lived in Manhattan too and had my share of these too. Did I mention it was a long time ago? In both cases, a lady (yes, I mean me ) ignored horns and Hey Babees
I believe the sound is called a chirp, but trust me, it’s a honk. I still ignore it.
Last month I spent a week in St. Thomas, doing genealogical research on my grandparents. I was determined to immerse myself in St Thomian culture. That’s one thing I learned – Jamaica has Jamaicans, Puerto Rico has Puerto Ricans, St Thomas has St Thomians. So now I can say I’m half St Thomian. It’s more succinct than saying my father’s parents were born in St Thomas. Sorry, I Digress – back to immersion. I stayed at a bed and breakfast owned and operated by a St Thomian,
and ate only at restaurants frequented by locale people and serving everyday West Indian food.
One evening when I returned home, my host teased me with “You’re not one of us, I see.” I was crestfallen. Seeing my face, he laughed. “I saw you on Back Street, and I honked my horn, and you didn’t even look. Down here everyone honks their horn to say hello.”
An elderly French gentleman I got to know had a different take. Although born in Paris, I guess he could be classified as a St Thomian, since he’d served as French Consul and lived on the island off and on since 1952. While giving me a ride home from the Caribbean Genealogical Library, he too explained the horn/hello custom. But he added an observation. “People here honk to say hello – but especially when they have a new car.”
And who said the French have a touch of cynicism? Not me!