On Becoming Gladys

When did I become Gladys Kravitz?  Those of you over 50 will remember Gladys as the snooping, often bewildered neighbor on the old sitcom “Bewitched”..the rest of you kids can check Wikipedia, or scoot along now..I don’t have time to explain everything to you , I have to get back to peering out my curtains and screeching “ABBBBBBBNER” to my husband, who is actually named “Joe”, but responds readily to “Abner”, because he knows those kids next door are at it again.

A while back I wrote about my life on Locust Drive, a post WWII development of tiny, flat- front colonials, lined up on a pretty little street with sidewalks, old shade trees and mature flowering shrubs everywhere. Just add an American Flag, and it is a Norman Rockwell painting where ever you look.  When Joe and I moved here 18 years ago, (our 5 year starter home-mind you) we were the young couple with no children and surrounded by original owners. Over the years, our neighbors moved from 70-somethings to 90-somethings and then, onward and upward to the Pearly Gates. Gone are the old gals chatting on each other’s porch steps, and the few old men , waving from their walkers on their way to mail a letter. Oh, how I loved to imagine them all young again, circa 1946, moving into their proud little homes and bringing home their babies..I cherished their memories and made them part of my own. In the Spring when we exchanged the storm glass for screens in the old windows, and I saw “baby’s room” etched in the metal on the screen, I cried. While I respected and admired these people who raised large families in our little homes..seven people and ONE bathroom.. I couldn’t emulate. I cracked when our kids were 2 and 4 , and we added on, enlarging our square footage. The addition was met with some comments from my “original” neighbors..stories of “five kids to a room..no one complained..we made due”.. Yes, I thought, but your 1950’s Doctors gave out Valium like candy to the “nervous” housewives back in the day.

So, now the torch on Locust Drive has been passed, and the little homes have been passed on to young couples who call Joe and I “Sir” and “Mam”, and I often shock myself when my inner Gladys Kravitz surfaces.  One day I awoke to a chainsaw and saw the Holly tree being slaughtered by the infants who purchased Mary’s home.  I was unable to stop myself from running across the front lawn and shouting over the roar of the saw..”WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”…(it was fairly obvious).  “We’re cutting this down”.  “WHY?”..(truly none of my business)…”because it’s overgrown”.  I felt foolish, a middle-aged busy body. I sheepishly muttered something about always liking it and using the holly to decorate at Christmas, and did they know there were gorgeous purple Hydrangea in the backyard..they did. Heavy sigh and exit, stage left, Gladys.

A few months later, a young, single woman bought Jean’s home, an original who passed away recently. I have been peering through the blinds for a couple of months watching Jean’s life get tossed into a junk pile in the backyard, calling “ABBBBNER!” occasionally to my perch to help me decipher what the latest project was.  Recently, I introduced myself, and she didn’t seem interested in a conversation..she was busily tearing out Jean’s old shrubs.  I remarked that she should spare the shrub in the front yard -it made for some gorgeous bouquets in the summer.  I walked away feeling sad , glancing back at the stoop that I was so comfortable on such a short time ago, Jean and I having a crazy conversation while her old dog, Teddy snoozed with his head in my lap.  I missed my confused, sweet neighbor who beamed when I handed her a blooming bunch of her own Hydrangea, and talked about finding some new boyfriends (yes, plural) since her old boyfriend ran off and was rumored to be shacked up with a younger woman (he died).

I suppose it’s time to accept my place in the circle of life on Locust Drive. Time to step up and welcome the new kids to the block the way the originals welcomed us, time to put a fork in Gladys and her tsk-tsking. Time to….HEY!  What the heck ?…that’s our parking spot..like for the past 18 years!  “ABBBBBBNER!!”

gladys kravitch

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10 thoughts on “On Becoming Gladys

  1. Ah yes…..15 years ago we moved into what sounds like the very same type of neighborhood. The house we purchased was actually my husband’s godmother’s former home. (Say that fast 3 times…). And I was the one guilty of pulling out the voluminous wandering jew that had taken over the front yard, much like the “infants” now on your street cutting down trees and pulling up bushes – ripping out the old life to transplant a new one. College students now living in rentals that what were once those same homes, like yours, with 5 kids and 1 bathroom and small-ish post-war kitchens. Now as one of the few established families I too find myself becoming Gladys, so I get it. Most of my lovely old neighbors are gone, my mother-in-law at the other end of the street one of only two originals left in the neighborhood, but for how much longer? So I too am Gladys and on my way to becoming part of the NEW neighborhood old guard. Thanks for this post – it was spot-on!

  2. OMgosh Tess I confess to my own Gladys-ish-ness, lol

    I recently placed one of those carved wooden “saying” signs in my kitchen to look at daily.
    It says, simply (and succinctly):

    LET GO OR GET DRAGGED

    It works for me on various levels, but for now, in relation to generational difference/time passing it reminds me that I need to tune in my perspective (just a smidge). I resist the concept that I should adjust to no longer being at the top of the relevancy ladder, no longer an alpha of anything at this phase of life (tho far from omega I hope, lol)

    Still what’s a Gladys to do? 🙂

    Thanks for a great read –

    Issy

    • Sadly, Jean’s children took him to a shelter- going to call and check on him today..it is a no kill shelter–I tried..and if I had room, I would have taken him. Broke my heart.

  3. The “baby’s room” on the storm window really got to me Tess. A funny and poignant piece at the same time. And I have to say, you make a great “Gladys” I don’t think you should give it up so easily. (I’m sad about Jean’s Hydrangea too)

  4. Pingback: Welcome Home, Mom! | Merganser's Crossing

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