444 WHITE AVENUE
This home had sat vacant for as long as I can remember. Trees grew ridiculously close to the foundation, fascia hung precariously from the roof and beer bottles constantly littered the front stoop. I had unsuccessfully tried several times to purchase the property to no avail, so when I got a call that the owners may be interested in finally parting with it, I drove right up to take a closer look at it.
Not having ever been inside and already having made a sufficient exterior inspection, I proceeded to go around and try to jimmy the windows and doors so I could glance inside. While attempting to slyly pry open a storm window I hear a voice behind me saying, “What the f*ck you think you doin’?” I turned around to find an older woman, slightly plump, wielding a giant club. She may have had a lot of years on me and probably would never catch me if I ran, but I knew right then that this was not a woman to mess with. And that is how I met Linda.
I later discovered that Linda kept watch over the house, and she actually had a key which allowed me to enter the house under more legal circumstances. After I bought the place, she often lumbered down to visit, minus her club, to check on the progress. She had a way of sneaking up on you despite her large presence, and oftentimes, if not for the cigarette smoke that accompanied her, I would never have known she was there. I convinced myself she must have been a ninja in a former life. When she spoke, I had to make sure the children were out of ear shot, else explain the meaning of the grandmotherly figure using every curse word known to man. I found her incredibly entertaining and a great source of neighborhood scuttlebutt. She once watched me carry a large rock across the yard. Through a puff of smoke, she commented “You better watch girl or by the time you reach my age, your pussy will be in your boots.” I relished her adages. She also referred to my hired help as “not worth a shit,” which was probably the harsh reality in that instance. There was so much to learn from Linda, and I looked forward to her visits.
Much like Linda, the house was rough. There had been a small fire in the basement at some point, the front porch had been poorly enclosed and the foundation on the back half had completely disintegrated. I was more than ready to take it on. We removed the chimney to create a larger living space and moved the kitchen from the back portion of the house to the front. We also unenclosed the front porch to make a cozy sitting area for the future occupants. I was pleased with the remodel, and though Linda was often short on compliments, I could tell by the time we were finished she was pleased too.