Since I'm playing with another Tal Jefferson book idea, I needed to refresh my memory on its locale. Hitting the Web, I pulled up pictures of the real town on which I based Wynnton, and looked around, courtesy of Google. (Personally, I hate the fact Google has my house in its data base.) I couldn't believe how the streets I thought I knew well have changed over these past years.
The houses I am using are no longer residences. What was once a very neighborly street is now all business in these old, lovely homes. Pickup trucks park in the side yard. Large signs by the driveway announce the business name and address. Houses once painted a brilliant white to ward off the summer sun are now tans and beiges, reds and blues.
I remember all those neighbors so clearly. Mrs. DeShazo with her curved spine, club foot, and tiny stature, always impeccably dressed, wearing lipstick, and the sweetest woman on earth. Mrs. Smith, worrying about her husband's arthritis. Mrs. Ritchie, her house filled with luminous art painted by her Spanish son-in-law. Mrs. Amos, housing her granddaughter and her son, wealthy as Croesus but not flaunting it a bit. Visiting each other was a ritual not to be missed. Front porch swings on hot summer nights, lemonade in the garden, a tuna stuffed tomato for lunch with all the neighbor ladies happy to attend a hastily arranged party. I know they are no longer with us in person, but they will always live in my memories. Their white houses with huge old shade trees, now cut down for parking areas, will survive in my mind as well.
The owners may change, but the stories these women told, their personalities, their faces, are with me still.