Old Neighbors

I grew up in a rural part of New York State.  At that time, there were some transplants from New York City (90 miles south) that had purchased houses and lived there on weekends and vacations, but certainly not the way that they have transformed the town in the intervening years since.  In my own neighborhood/cul-de-sac, there was at least one family that fit this description, as the house was not often occupied during the week, but came to life on the weekends and in the summer when school was out and the weather was much warmer.

The family had two children, but neither of them was educated locally.  Even so, the family was pretty subdued and didn’t make much of their present or past significance in show business.  There was a persistent rumor that the father did voiceover work in commercials (the one I remember vividly was that he was the voice of Starkist’s ‘Charlie the Tuna’ from television, [which I recently discovered turned out to be false]) and that he had acted in a soap opera or two in New York City.  As neighborhoods go, ours was pretty seemingly uninterested in things that were considered sensational so this information was left to rumor and innuendo and nothing much was ever made of it.

I have a small fixation with the neighborhood I grew up in, in that I keep tabs on the house and the surrounding area, even though we sold the property in 1992 and it’s gone through several owners since then.  I did visit the property two years ago with my birth mother, to show her where I grew up and for me it was a possibility of seeing the house where I spent 27 years living and supposedly maturing.  The current owners of the house weren’t amenable to us going through it, since the elderly father of the woman that owned it lived there with an aide, so we were relegated to walking the grounds outside. I was able to peek into the windows of a few of the rooms to see if much had changed, some things did, others haven’t.  But that isn’t the topic of this entry.

A couple of nights ago I was looking at Google Earth and thought to check out the street view of my neighborhood (if indeed it was available) and discovered a Google car had indeed made it to my cul-de-sac.  I just happened to be checking out some of the other properties and decided to look at the cluster of mailboxes near the intersection of two streets.  Lo and behold one of them looked strikingly familiar.  The family name of the ‘famous’ family was still on one of them!  It was the same size and shape that I remember, and the little brass and black stick on letters I’d remembered seeing there were still present, spelling out the last name.  So I was intrigued that perhaps they still owned the house and property.  Only a couple of the original residents of the area are still in their houses, all of the others have either died or moved elsewhere.

Doing a little Internet digging I discovered the tax records (they’re publicly available in case you were wondering) and sure enough the property is owned by their Limited Liability Corporation, but it has the family name attached to it all the same.  From that I discovered the father had died in 2015, but the mother still lived mainly in California, and apparently the son now lived in the house as he was apparently retired from his former work at CBS Sports (he was a producer).  There was a police blotter report from a couple years ago where the son was ticketed for DWI by the local yokels, and it listed his age.  From there I came upon the obituary of the father, and it listed his accomplishments and among them were his voiceover work, as well as acting in a soap opera from the 1950s.  A serial called Young Dr. Malone that apparently had started as a radio program but morphed into a television one when tv became the norm and housewives needed distraction during that era.

As it turned out, the rumors were partially true.  We had a somewhat celebrity living in our midst.  They were very nice people as I remember and didn’t make much of their celebrity.  Of course, we also had a millionaire living in our neighborhood, but that’s another story for another day.



While I was at work on Monday, I happened to run into the woman who used to live next door to us.  Even though she no longer lives in the house, she’s rented it to a several families in the last several years.  Some good, some bad, some middle of the road.  The family that’s living there presently haven’t really been all that good in upkeep of the property, so much so my wife and I have been wondering if perhaps they had purchased the house and could get away with not keeping up the house, grounds etc.

After speaking with the woman, it turns out they’re still renting, but she’s not very pleased with what they have been doing (and mostly not doing) with their responsibilities in that area.  So much so, I thought she was considering evicting them, but probably a good talking to might do better in the long run.  While I had her ear though, I thought it would be a good time to discuss the problem on her side of the fence with the knotweed that has been a continuing problem on my side.  Every spring, the green menace shoots up and by early summer it’s already bowing over my side of the fence.  Of course the infestation on her side is causing it to come up on mine, and as I’ve mentioned in a few other posts on this site, we’ve been trying to eradicate it for years.

She seemed very interested in helping out and asked if cutting it down and spraying it would work.  Yes, but its one of those invasive type plants that doesn’t take a one time cutting and spraying lying down.  It actually fights back.  Hard.  The root system goes down at least ten feet and it comes back with a vengeance if left to its own devices.  I didn’t have a lot of time to impress this on her, but apparently it made some sort of impression, since soon after I got home my wife mentioned there was someone on the other side of the fence cutting down the knotweed.  I probably should have gone out there and talked to them, but after putting in a full day at the job, I really didn’t feel like engaging all that much and besides, it was raining.

Soon after getting home, my wife mentioned that she was observing someone in a pickup and trailer getting over to the grove of knotweed and doing some pruning.  She wanted to know if there was a name on the side of the truck, just in case it was someone who might also do tree removal, as we have a dead tree on the property that needs tending to.  I got up, hobbled to the window and looked out, but I didn’t see a name to reference.  She then asked if I wanted to go out and speak to the person, engage and perhaps get a little information, but being tired from a long day at work, I really didn’t.  A little later she looked out and saw that the stand of knotweed was gone from the other side of the fence and the person had left as well.  I haven’t managed to go outside and check out the work, but I expect the person did a good job, since through the slats of the fence there doesn’t appear to be anything on the other side.  So we’re clear at least for a week or so.

Now whether this family is going to be up and moving after being berated, I have no idea.  I do know for the most part they’re pretty quiet, certainly better than some of the renters that have been there in the past.  Just have to keep observing from my side of the fence and keep in contact (as possible) with the woman as I see her from time to time.


As long as we’ve been living here, we’ve mostly kept the property as it was when we first purchased the house.  Granted there have been minor changes, in that there were two sizeable trees in the front and side yard 20 years ago, but one fell down on its own and the other was leaning too far towards the house, so we had it removed before it dropped onto our roof or into the neighbor’s.  In the backyard, we’ve been fighting a losing battle against the Japanese knotweed a previous owner planted, but so long as we keep tilling that patch of ground and mulching the hell out of it, we can (for the most part) keep it from growing wild like it does on two other sides of the property on the opposite side of the fence.

Considering we don’t have a great deal of land to begin with (the lot is listed at 0.157 acres) and the house and garage take up a good deal of that space, we make do with what we have here, for the most part.  There’s an old patio behind the house, that probably could do with an upgrade, but there are other things we’ve been wanting to do first, so that’s going to get shelved for another year.  Two years ago we managed to get the driveway paved, that had been an eyesore for the longest time.  I can definitely say my old snowblower is very grateful it doesn’t have to chew through gravel and stones every winter just to keep the driveway clean.  Our walkway leading up to the house needs a bit of an upgrade, the concrete forms have heaved somewhat over the years and a few are split as well.  So far as I know, the sidewalk across the front of our property is our responsibility, since it is within the stakes that designate the property lines.  Although I do mow the strip of grass beyond the sidewalk, leading up to the street we live on, and clearly that and the trees that sit on it, belong to the village.  Just one of those curiosities when you live in a municipal area, rather than out in the country.

At the present time, and probably for the next ten days, our focus is on getting a new leased vehicle, since we have to turn in the Edge on the 17th.   Then we can get busy on making the property look nice for the visitors that we’re still looking forward to hosting for the remainder of the summer, as well as the coming fall.  Hard to believe that I’m planning ahead for autumn when it’s not even summer yet!  How times change as I get older.  At any rate, there will be some before and after pictures as things progress.  One definite thing I have to do is get someone to take down the dead tree behind the garage.  Before it falls into the neighbor’s yard.