Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mrs. Nell and the Cobblestone Street

The wide street that runs in front of our house used to be cobblestone. I learned this after noticing, while picking up limbs that had fallen over the curb, that there were older, smooth-looking stones where the pavement has worn away.

This tidbit was corroborated by Mrs. Nell, the older woman across the way. According to Mrs. Nell, our street used to be the street the trolley made a u-turn on back in the day. It was the thing, she said, to take the trolley down to the Grim Hotel to go dancing... or to the Saenger Theatre to see a show. Folks would parade out of these old houses in their finery, motor or trolley the short distance downtown, and see and be seen. It was the thing, she insisted, pointing a wrinkled hand in the direction of the hotel and theatre and studying my face.

I believe her.

Mrs. Nell's house is turned strangely on her small lot so that it's actually turned away from the cobblestone street and faces our house. This is my view (though it's farther away than pictured) from my south bedroom window. I adore it. Doesn't her house look like something out of a story? I think so. Even at night. Especially at night. Sometimes I see the light on in an upstairs window and want to sit down, right then, and begin writing a book. Her house is just as much a muse as my own. 

(She's never invited us in, and I'm curious if it fits the pictures in my imagination. Maybe after she gets to know us a little better, we'll see inside. I'll keep you posted.)

After having lived on this cobblestone street for almost 50 years, Mrs. Nell knows things. She told me she was in her mid-20s when she first saw her house and immediately dreamed of living there. Soon after, she married a widower with daughters and told him of her dream. They all drove by the house that evening. Mrs. Nell said they waited almost 5 years, and lo and behold, the house was put up for sale. Her husband made an offer but it was already spoken for. Mrs. Nell said she cried, even as her husband promised her that one day they'd have that house. Sure enough, a year or two later the new owner had to move. When she talks about the day they moved in, her voice gets clearer and lighter. It's the same voice she uses when talking about her dearly departed husband. Just off the cobblestone street, his car is still parked near the barn door-style detached garage. It has flat tires. I think he's been gone 22 years.

We yell across the way at each other nearly every morning now, usually while she waters her marigolds and I drown my herbs. This morning I skipped watering. All day I've wondered how she is- if she's staying cool enough. Maybe I should go check on her. It's over 100 degrees here today and she doesn't have central air.

I think I will go see about her.

Love from the cobblestone street today. -Brin


Sherry said...

write the book.

Unknown said...

I agree, write the book, there's a love story here!

Heidi said...

Book would be wonderful! But I would love to see in that house. Maybe she will allow pictures one day.

Anonymous said...

(be cautious posting photos of elderly people's home publicly on line! not trying to be a twit. . . I have a grandmother, she lives alone, and I wouldn't dare post her address or home online!) seriously, with love and not trying to be cruel.

Gail said...

I know you don't tell these things to hear compliments, but you're a sweetheart.

Terri Steffes said...

Lovely post. I want to meet her, too. Or maybe I'll just go and find my own Mrs. Nell.

Seawashed said...

She is the kind of neighbor we dream of having. How lucky you are. Yes keep an eye on her.