Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Elderly Boyfriend Died

I am having a hard time with the changing face of our neighborhood. Last weekend, I was driving down our street only to find an estate sale going on at one of the houses. I knew this meant bad news. It was the house of one of my favorite old folks... our neighborhood is full of 'em. I'd regularly drive by seeing him out on his front porch smoking and waving at the cars. He was precious and, in my head, was the sweetest old man there was. Andy dubbed him my "boyfriend" and would tease me saying that I would one day leave him for this old man.
So last weekend, I walked through his empty house (pictured above). The estate sale workers confirmed he had passed away last month. I knew I hadn't seen him out smoking in a while, but we've been gone a lot this summer. Each room was full of old people furniture and nick-nacks. I found a stack of old records selling for a dollar. I bought a bunch that were of old organ playing and hymns. He even had an ooooollllldddddd Billy Graham crusade on LP. I got that too. Then I found his stash of pipes. There were about 30 of them. I bought the cleanest looking one for Andy to remember my old boyfriend by.

As I drove away, I got even more sad. Not just because the sweet old man had died. It was that, PLUS what it represented in our neighborhood. Change. Like I said, our neighborhood is full of elderly people living in their old houses on big lots of land. Our street is old farm land complete with 80 yrs old green trees and a big creek winding through it. The houses are on average 1000 square feet. But the land is cause enough for circling buzzards in the form of real estate speculators. Especially given we are less than 5 miles from downtown.

A house not one block from the old man was torn down the year we moved in and NINETEEN homes were put in its place (complete with a skinny road splitting the property down the middle to gain access to all these new homes). Pictured below, this land went from ONE to 19. It not only squeezed every square inch possible into the development, it also paid no mind to the required 5 foot-to-lot-line rule.
Last year, a tiny old house was bought and "added onto," making it one of FOUR houses in the line of a single driveway. They advertised it as "Luxury Homes in the Trees," even though after construction I can only count 2 trees on the once copious lot. Then earlier this year, the cutest little farm house on our whole street was bought. The developers promised to ship the house to a new place, but one day we drove by to see it being dismantled in a way it could never be rebuilt. Today, it is a construction zone for a major development of town homes. Here's the link to the site plan: where you can see how many homes they are placing on a lot that used to be one precious farm house. Pictured below is the construction in progress.
I know times change, but this just makes me sad. Plus, Robin had always planned to one-day buy that little farm house so we could be neighbors.

The lot next door to the old man who died is the latest victim on our street. It was an 800 sq foot home with an equally old lady living there, but the land was well over an acre. She died this year. The "house" was sold, immeidately torn down, now the land has been cleared and a new sign announces the coming of "SIX Unique Luxury Homes" and the development is called "The Park". Pictured below is the cleared lot, ready for building now. I am scared my boyrfriend's house will be next on the chopping block (he's on at least 2 acres).
It feels like pretty soon Andy and I will be defending our old pecan farm from the vultures as well. Not that the vibe of our street will be worth fighting for anymore after the evolution continues to suck the life out it.

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