IN MY OPINION
Books Read in 2007
31 January 2007
We lived in a home we purchased in a residential neighborhood of Oakland until 1973, when we moved to Davis.
I remember the day we moved in. I was pregnant with David at the time, so our wonderful Newman group all showed up and helped unload the trucks, as we all did whenever any of us moved. We had a lawn full of toddlers and young kids, parents coming up and down the stairs carrying all of our earthly goods, mothers with babies on their hips watching from the front porch and throughout the day, Mrs. Babcock, across the street, peering at it all from behind barely opened curtains.
Mrs. Babcock was sort of neighbor that, if she lived in a gothic house, kids would have made up horror stories about. I'm sure she was a very nice person, but you never saw her outside the house, and only a slight flutter of the curtains let you know that she was checking on you.
I don't know how old Mrs. Babcock was. We had the feeling she was very old, but from my perspective of nearly 64 years today, "very old" suddenly becomes a relative term. For all I know she was in her 70s, which seems pretty darn young these days.
I'm thinking a lot about Mrs. Babcock this week, as I listen to my mother's tales of her neighbors. Modern architectural design, at least in our area, assumes that we all want to live with a focus on our back yards. Ever since we moved to Davis, we have missed the big front porch, where we used to sit and greet the neighbors as they passed by. On our block, we are perhaps the only house that has windows to the street; the rest have tiny windows at the very top of walls, which let in light, but keep prying eyes out, and do not let anybody wave as a neighbor passes.
My mother lives in a mobile home park and has a big porch, which overlooks the community center and the lagoon beyond it. This was the model home for the park and my mother and her husband happened to show up about the time the park was filled and they were ready to sell this place.
She is perfectly situated to keep track of everybody.
And she does.
I know about the neighbor who slinks outside twice a day, covers herself with a heavy blanket and smokes her marijuana cigarette. "She doesn't want the smell on her clothes," my mother tells me (I suspect that is her interpretation of the woman's action).
I know about the people who fix things for re-sale in their carport and hold regular garage sales, against park rules (which state that you can have two garage sales a year), because they are somehow related to the managers of the park. She also suspected at one time that they were dealing drugs because of the comings and goings of their "guests."
I know health problems of several people in the park, and what surgical procedures they have had.
I know the ethnicity of a lot of people, because ethnic identity is very important for my mother. If you are German or Jewish or "Oriental" or gay "colored," or Mexican, that becomes part of any comment about your activities, something I have never understood, but I suppose that is part of her generation, both the need for ethnic identity and the occasional non politically correct terminology.
I know who bought which unit when, about how much they paid for it, and their attempts to remodel or sell.
Ironically, she doesn't seem to have any close friends here. Everybody knows her from her friendly demeanor in her daily walks around the lagoon, but not one person in the park has stopped by to see her or seems to have any knowledge of her accident.
She is the Mrs. Babcock of this place, peeking out through half-closed blinds, keeping track on the comings and goings of everybody and making up her own theories about what is happening behind their closed doors.
I understand Mrs. Babcock a lot better now.
And I guess I'll let her live after all.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
This is entry #2498