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Thursday, March 17, 2011

#74 Neighbors

Photo: Sonja Lovas
Continuing with the 100 life-enriching little nuances series …

I live in one of those old, established neighborhoods where you know everybody’s name if they are the type of person who wants to be known. And since I live in the same house I grew up in, I can tell you it has been this way since the mid-1970s.

Thinking back to those days, I can recall most of my neighbors names: Alice and her daughter Pam, Bisco and Sadie, a retired war veteran named Kaj, a widow named Germaine, Dennis and his family, a kid named Mike and his family, a man named Kazmir and his sibblings, a couple of kids named Tommy and Lori and their mother, Stan and Bernice, and Tom, Karen and their children. We had a few other houses on the block that multiple families lived in.

Thirty-five years later, some of those same neighbors live in the same houses. Some have moved, and sadly, some have passed away. But I’ll always remember little things about each of them. Today I want to tell you about Bisco and Sadie. Maybe it’ll prompt memories you have of a couple like this in your neighborhood growing up. If it does, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section.

Bisco worked in a packing house and he was a fun-loving guy who loved to tease my sister and I. Sadie was demonstrative when she spoke, often drawing out her words, as if she were in a perpetual state of surprise (Noooooooo. Reeeeeeeeeeally?!), and she gasped between sentences. She was also as sweet as they come.

My mom and my sister and I moved into the neighborhood after my parents divorced. I was eight and my sister was five. Mom had to go back to work so she needed a babysitter. Sadie came to the rescue. During the school year she walked across the street to make sure my sister and I got off to school in time. During the summer, we stayed at her house, which was always interesting.

Bisco and Sadie were Polish and once in a while Sadie would speak Polish. I always suspected she did that when she wanted to cuss, but I was never able to confirm my suspicions. Bisco was much less tactful. He actually taught me a few Polish cuss words.

Bisco brought home some of the craziest things to eat from the packing house – including pickled pigs feet, cow hearts and various other animal parts that should never be consumed in my opinion. Hearing me say, “Ewwww” just gave him more ammo for teasing me.

I don’t know how Mom ever afforded to pay Sadie, but I can remember Sadie denying money from Mom on multiple occasions because that’s just the type of neighbor she was. Even after my sister and I no longer needed a babysitter, we would go to Sadie's to visit her, or she would come across the street to visit with all of us – especially after Bisco died. She passed away quite a few years later.

I drive by Bisco and Sadie’s former house every day and in my mind I can still see Bisco out on the front porch reading his newspaper and Sadie sitting on the front steps with an iced tea in her hand, chatting with neighbors. And in the words of every Nicholas Sparks novel, replaying that scene in my mind makes everything seem right with the world.


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