Mack Williams: Each street a ‘city’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 24, 2019

Mack Williams

Some days I ride down a city street some wouldn’t call “wholesome,” as it features a little store with barred windows and doors, bars not for patrons, but for “after-hours” browsers, neither wishing to purchase, nor leaving empty-handed!
People walk past empty yard spaces, with still-attached steps to nowhere. No one ascends them, for there’s nowhere to go.
One house always has seasonal decorations, “seasonal” not capitalized because that would only mean one, while these decorations represent “the march of the holidays,” as in “Holiday Inn” (1942). They’re not the most expensive-looking, just the owner’s way of making a “visual joyful noise,” just like some choir members who only “project” very well.
In the vicinity is an old abandoned “one-store-enterprise” pet shop, also with barred windows (not to keep the potential pets in, since I’m sure they were in cages (cages within a cage). It may be in the process of becoming a church, but I’m not sure (I tried to think of some analogy between selling fish, and “Fishers of men,” but it wouldn’t come).
To me, the old “distressed” streets sometimes have a more interesting “patina” than those which are put on display for city walking tours, kind of a “lived-in,trying-to-get-from-one-day-to-the-next patina.”
But that which stands out most there (besides the “armored” store), is a small, old frame house, its yard reminding me of a junked-car graveyard, but with lesser-sized items, some still usable or repairable (the Jawas of “Star Wars” would fix them up and sell them). Among the items are old lawn mowers, old charcoal grills, old bikes, trash cans of all sizes, etc.
I’ve seen several old men sitting in wheelchairs and senior scooters on the porch, and in the yard. Despite their infirmities, these old men are not “junked,” as they probably have relatives to whom they mean a lot; and those living there surely mean something to each other.
I have seen a 30-ish something young lady sitting with them; perhaps she is a relative or caregiver. This might not be a correct inference, as I haven’t stopped by, intruded, and asked; but he place gives the impression of “a poor man’s care home,” where residents may have pooled their expenses to create their own “institution,” where they, more or less, are the ones who “call the shots.”
I passed by late one night, the inside lighting displaying a much less cluttered-looking area than the front yard.
In warmer months, clusters of a man-sized blooming plant fill the yard, giving the men some privacy while sitting outside. They sit behind, and among the plants in their chairs, the tops of their mostly bald heads resembling great plant buds about to bloom.
Not all of the yard clutter is plant-hidden. A huge, old, discarded TV antenna juts out from the green mass, like some remnant of a World War II plane crashed in the Bouganville jungle (Yamamoto). I wish I knew those plants’ identity; but so far, my “Britannica-like” googling hasn’t told me.
On a recently, unusually cold, late-Winter day, just as there are already buds on trees, I saw one of those “en-chaired,” “balding “buds” within stocking cap covering, prior to emergence in Spring bloom.
There railroad crosses the street, paraphrase: “A railroad runs through it” (not “through the middle of the house,” as the late Larry Hooper sang on the old Lawrence Welk Show (and still does, in re-runs).
So the little street’s variety (although “distressed”) makes it its own little city. There’s even mass transit, although you can’t board Amtrak there, but a stopped freight train could, in theory, be “hopped” (disclaimer: I’m not suggesting it).
One foggy night, instead of making my turn onto this street, I accidentally turned onto the street just prior; and lo and behold, there was another separate “little city.”

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