Skip to main content

Good Neighbors




I grew up during a simpler time. This isn't necessarily because times are more complicated today than they used to be (although we certainly have more technology at our disposal now), but it is because children often see (and remember) things in much more simpler terms than when their brains become better developed, and they have to directly contend with so much more of the world as adults. So, yes, things were pretty complicated -- and even dangerous -- when I was a kid, but they seemed simple more often than not.


Part of my little cocoon-like world growing up at 605 S. Draper St. was the wonderful neighborhood in which my parents and I lived. The neighbors during my first ten years spent at this residence consisted firstly of Bob & Wanda from across the street. Bob worked at Country Companies Insurance, when they used to have an office where a Walgreens stands now. They were always nice to my folks and I. The Oyes lived up the street, on the corner of Green & Draper. Keith & Angie (the kids) were older than I was, but they both humored me when I wanted to play, and Angie used to babysit me sometimes. Truth be told, I kind of had a crush on her.

Next door to us, to the north, were sisters Gibby and Marcella. It was only recently that I learned that Marcella didn't actually live there, but I thought she did, as she seemed to be over there a lot. They were both splendid, gentle women, who always had time to allow little Matt to visit with them. Next door to them were Pat and Don, and their dog, Boo. Pat and Don were ok, but Boo was, well, not a nice dog. One day I toddled over a tad too far into the yard of Don and Pat, and Boo set that to rights real quick.

Our neighbors next door to the south were Cecil & Bea. Cecil pretty much kept himself to himself. Bea was one of those exceedingly nice old ladies who prattled-on a bit, but the warmth and niceness she exuded was sincere. The family that bordered our back yard to the south, the Pierces, were a lot of fun. They had several girls, and we would all amiably converse across our mutual fence during several summer evenings spent in the backyards. Mr. & Mrs. Shirley lived on the corner of John & Draper. Mrs. Shirley is still there, although Mr. Shirley passed away years ago. I'll never forget the time my dad fell out of his chair watching Mr. Shirley attempt to get his car up their ice-covered driveway.

And, last but certainly not least, is Bob & Alice. This lovely elderly couple lived directly behind us. Our backyards met at a low fence, and Alice would often call to me whenever I was playing in the sandbox. I'd run over to her at the fence, and we'd chat, typically finishing with her giving me a cookie. Sometimes my folks and I would go over to their house for an evening where they'd play Yahtzee and I would, well, just chill. Bob & Alice babysat me on a few occasions, once when my mom was with my dad at the burn unit in Springfield. It was then Alice introduced me to the delicious combination of cream style corn on mashed potatoes. Yum.

So, yeah, I grew up very fortunate. We had some awesome neighbors to make our life on Draper St. pretty darn swell. No doubt there are plenty of children across the city, and in the same neighborhood, who feel the same way today. I'm not one of those curmudgeonly adults who shakes their proverbial cane in a fit of nostalgic pique thinking that "when I was a kid...." things were always better.

But, man, they were pretty damn good.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

If You Could Read My Mind

Dance clubs are a funny thing. They contain within their walls a life force and vibrancy sometimes unmatched anywhere else. When dusk settles and the lights come on, people will flood the dance floors to gyrate to music with hypnotic beats and songs about love, lust and fun at the disco. At gay bars, this sort of scenario usually increases ten-fold. It isn't for everyone, but for many it is a respite from the harsh realities of the real word. It is a place that isn't just a structure, but a sanctuary where folks -- minorities in their own communities -- can take shelter and unwind with abandon, at least for a few nighttime hours.
As someone who benefited greatly from such an aforementioned gay dance club, you can imagine my dismay at news of the closing of Chester Street Bar. In business for over three decades, gay-owned and operated, there was a time when C-Street (as it was known by most) was the only haven for those in the LGBT community, near and far, to enjoy themselves …

3/4

Ok, we're now three-fourths of the way through this year's calendar, so I thought I'd rank the thirty-eight 2017 movies I've seen so far.

Here they are....


1. A Quiet Passion
2. Baby Driver
3. Dunkirk
4. Get Out
5. Kedi
6. A Ghost Story
7. Wonder Woman
8. Columbus
9. Brad's Status
10. Marjorie Prime
11. Maudie
12. Logan
13. Spider-Man: Homecoming
14. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
15. Brigsby Bear
16. Atomic Blonde
17. The Big Sick
18. Split
19. Kong: Skull Island
20. It
21. Wind River
22. A Cure for Wellness
23. The Hitman's Bodyguard
24. Norman
25. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
26. Logan Lucky
27. Alien Covenant
28. Ghost In the Shell
29. War for the Planet of the Apes
30. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
31. Life
32. Annabelle: Creation
33. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
34. My Cousin Rachel
35. Baywatch
36. The Bye Bye Man
37. mother!
38. It Comes at Night


It will be interesting to see what the last three months of the year brin…

Unbound

"Step out from the mask you stand behind Fearful lost and blind Time to take the time The pressure’s on you Hide away, hide away No tomorrow, just today"
- Brilliant, Ultravox
Today was National Coming Out Day, so of course it gives some pause for reflection on my own coming out story. It was in April 1993, my junior year of high school (go Chargers!). In the six years of writing this blog, I have alluded to how I came out, but never really delved into the intricacies of how it came about. What better day to do so than today?
My first (small) indications of homosexuality manifested in grade school. While in first grade, I thought a fifth grader looked cute. In fifth grade, I would stare, longingly, at a boy in class, until he caught me looking at him. There were some infatuations with boys in middle school, and a first sexual experience during freshman year of high school. Everything up to that point had been, for the most part, based in the physical realm. I liked the way certain…