Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An Open Apology To Our Old Neighbors

Once upon a time, Del lived in a house in the country. It was a nice house, it had rooms, and stairs, and a big yard. It also had a wood-burning stove in the main room that we used all the time for heat. My details are fuzzy, I don't have the memory for stuff like my brother or dad do, so the best I can tell you is that I think wood shavings or some such ended up too close to said stove, and we awoke in the middle of the night to our house on fire. Our bedrooms were on the second floor, so I woke up to my dad rushing into my room, and hurrying us out to the window that was above the back porch, so we could climb out and then be lowered down to safety. I, of course, felt the need to run back into my room and get my Blankie to take with me, no way was I going to let that burn up, which made dad yell at me because when your house is on fire, running BACK into danger for something that isn't alive is just silly. Hey, I was young, cut me some slack. So said Blankie in hand, we got out of the window and down from the porch and retreated to a safe distance to watch the house burn.

The next morning we sifted through the wreckage. I remember my bed being a burnt wire frame that was upside down, and all my plastic horses had melted and fused into odd shapes. It was more devastating to me than losing the house. Until we could tear down the mess, and rebuild, our closest neighbors across the street bravely allowed us to stay with them. They were Bill and Toot Puckett. I don't know Toot's real name, or if that was, but that's what we called her. They were an elderly couple, they had a very nice house, a very nice barn, a pond, and none of their stuff was child-proof and oh-so-breakable. They had an old organ they let us play, it was magic. It must have been very trying for them to have us stay there, but they were always nice. The trauma of the fire must have really affected me, because I started wetting the temporary bed they had provided for me. No matter what, it seemed like it happened again and again. Those poor people, I think they qualified for Sainthood by the time our house was rebuilt and we were able to move back and out of their house.

The local townsfolk took up a collection for stuff for us, there was probably clothes and sundry, but all I remember is getting a big paper bag full of plastic horses. I don't know who donated them, but I was never so thankful of anything in all my life. I probably would have been thankful of Bill & Toot but they had too many things I couldn't touch, or that were breakable, and I was too young to realize how wonderful they were to open their home to us.

I still have Blankie.


  1. Bill and Toot were saints. A trying time for all of us. I do remember the towns folk donating linens, pillows, clothing and your plastic horses. What spirit and love that little town had. I miss the closeness and caring they shared with us. Still got some plastic horses? I know there's a bag of big plastic horses in our garage-they're Charlene's private collection, some with broken legs but still she keeps them.

  2. There are several plastic horses on the nightstand next to my bed, actually.

  3. You wet the bed too? I didn't know that. At least you got to sleep in just your own piss. Dan and I would often piss the bed and you'd never know whose piss you were swimming in when you woke up.