I live in Old Town.
A lot of people think that the neighborhood’s charm is in its old buildings, big trees, and easy walking to parks and downtown.
But you have no idea.
There’s this guy Stanley. He stands on his front porch in the mornings, cuts my lawn sometimes, and always says “Your boy is getting bii-iiig!” He’s hard to understand, but nobody in the neighborhood can tell you what his handicap is. He makes these birdhouses out of scrap wood and sells them for $10. I bought one once because I felt that I should.
Stanley is about the last of my neighborhood watchers.
There used to be this white-bearded neighbor, Bob. He lived in a little wooden cottage with his Mom. And when you worked in your yard, he would stand by, look on, comment. All day he’d stand there, until you were done. When he died, they condemned his house and replaced it with a modern 4-square. 2500 square feet. I haven’t met the new people yet.
Then there was Darlene. She grew up in this tiny green house down the street. After her brother and mother died, she’d sit on the front porch arranging donated flowers for nursing homes. One time when I was really low, she invited me to sit with her and it helped. When she moved on, they tore down the house and replaced it with the biggest “Craftsman” on the block. I haven’t met the new people yet.
Big new/old houses are replacing all the older neighborhood caretakers. The people who had plenty of time. The people who made me feel looked after. The kind of people who can’t afford this neighborhood anymore.