Saturday, September 28, 2019

Mr. Cranky's Neighborhood

Image by Prawny from Pixabay



If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my (eventual) grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who don't, yet) — the Stickies  to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.
                  
                        This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens 
        Perusal by callowyutes may result in psychological, etceteralogical triggering. 

                                                 Glossary  

                                                   About

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Star: Dana — A gentlereader

"I guess when you turn off the main road, you have to be prepared to see some funny houses." -Stephen King


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

I've recently begun walking around my neighborhood. I've lived in this neighborhood for better than a decade but have never done this before. I'm a card-carrying suburban boomer with rural certifications. Suburban boomers drive. S'boomers live in developments/subdivisions/townships — not hoods.

They don't normally go for walks either, not in the traditional sense. When they do they're usually equipped with water bottles to remain hydrated as they navigate through tricky subdivisions that often contain lengthy, unmarked dead ends.

Carrying ballast to keep from tipping over, they walk briskly while pumping or swinging their arms purposefully. After a sensible dinner.

In the 'burbs, full speed jogging is usually done in the middle of the night by one-percenters, or wannabe one-percenters, so that our hero can get a jump on normal people before beginning their 16-hour workday. Exploiting the 99% takes a lot of time and energy.

Although, technically speaking, I live in a small incorporated town, which in the Flatlands of Ohio are called cities, to me it's a 'burb. I spent the first 12.75 years of my life living in inner-city Pittsburgh (with an h) in neighborhoods where yards were generally small to nonexistent and trees, except for parks, were few and far between.

From my personal perspective, I don't live in a city, it's a crowded suburb.

The yards, for the most part, are small, but almost everyone has one, and there's enough grass to require regular cutting. There are hedges and edges to be trimmed and weeds to be wacked. Almost everyone has a driveway and garages are commonplace.

People don't usually park on the street (in some neighboring "cities" it's illegal to do so) and nobody has to mark their territory (parking spot) with milk crates, retired kitchen chairs or the like and be prepared to defend their territory to the death (or at least till someone calls the cops).


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I confess I'm not a big fan of the Buckeye state. I've been living here temporarily for 34 years. It's me, not them. It's never felt like home. I felt more at home during my brief sojourn in the sunbelt that I ever have here.

But the thing that I love about my neighborhood is the trees.

It's a very old neighborhood full of architecturally unremarkable, modest homes once mostly inhabited by barely middle-class employees of local steel mills and factories that are mostly gone.

Now it's inhabited by retired former employees of local steel mills and factories that are mostly gone, and younger H. sapiens that haven't fled to points south of the Mason-Dixon, at least not yet.

And hooge "perennial plants with elongated stems, or trunks, supporting branches and leaves"—which is how Wikipedia describes trees—of all sorts.

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True, and newer, suburbs may have larger yards, houses, and incomes but often the trees have been redlined, restricted to their own neighborhoods. The trees, if any, are usually saplings or not much more than saplings (teen trees?). My modest neighborhood has enormous trees and lots of 'em. Far more birds than people live here.

Although the bottom third of my county consists primarily of tiny cities and realburbs, the rest is mostly rural and chock full of farms (and trees). This is why occasionally eagles, hawks, and falcons can be spotted soaring overhead.

"Honey, have you seen the cat?"

There are at least two owls that live in or near my neighborhood. I've never seen them but I hear them almost every day. I assume they're warning each other to keep to their own turf or things will get ugly.

[Hey, nature boy, have you received a commission from Dodging Death Digest?

No, Dana, I'm painting a charming foundational, literary picture of my neighborhood, for what follows.

What started out as a way to get some much-needed exercise without going to da'mall and joining my fellow geezers and geezerettes walking in circles around the local consumer cathedral like a secular version of devout Muslim pilgrims circling the Kaaba, got me thinking. 

One day it occurred to me, it's 2019 in America, where are all the protesters?

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My neighborhood is top-heavy with old people that, like me, worked full time for 45 years or more. Some are still working, as I would be if not for the blessing of being part of an extended family of three generations living in our large, old drafty house.

We don't own our home—in fact, if we ever find a way to swing it we'll be headed for North Carolina—but most of my neighbors do.

Beginning in the late seventies, shortly before I was lured to Canada's Deep South by my late wife (it's complicated) the factories and the mills began shutting down or moving away.

The tiny city I currently inhabit was still thriving when this started happening and many of the old people (people my age) still living here who were relatively young at the time, had tough, physically and mentally (ever work the line?) demanding jobs.

But a lot of these jobs paid fairly well, traditionally were fairly secure, and a lot of these people had bought homes—unaware of how fast and how far things were going to fall.

Not exactly an easy life but with a little luck—if the job or some bug didn't kill you first you could do 30 and out and finally fix up that tiny yard, maybe get a camper—although you might need a part-time gig to make ends meet.

Everyone knows what happened next (or should). Bottom line: a whole lot of folks are now living in modest houses, that may or may not be paid for, in various states of repair or disrepair.

Some get full pensions, most a fraction of what they thought they would eventually get when they were busting their butts back in the day.

There's no shortage of empty homes that won't sell. There are a few abandoned houses that should be torn down, and it shouldn't be so hard and expensive to make this happen.

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The yards, for the most part, are small, but almost everyone has one, and there's enough grass to require regular cutting. There are hedges and edges to be trimmed and weeds to be wacked.

Just about every street has a retired guy with a riding lawn mower that cuts the grass of the houses that won't sell if the owner can't be bothered keeping up the yard work.

Bird feeders need to be maintained, hips and knees replaced, grandkids babysat. Everyone knows someone that was killed by and/or is being treated for Cancer. But no one is blocking Main Street and demanding The Gummit do something. Too busy. 

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Please scroll down to react, comment, or share. If my work pleases you I wouldn't be offended if you offered to buy me a coffee.  

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Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. I post an announcement when I have a new column available as well as news articles/opinion pieces that reflect where I'm coming from or that I wish to call attention to. 

Cranky don't tweet. 

  
















 





   

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