that have been part of my life.
The Story of the Man
When school got out in the spring of 1968, we moved to Prairie Village, Kansas, to a big house on 95th Street that cost about $30,000 – a fortune to us. We didn’t enjoy life in Kansas very much, but that’s another story. On August 26, 1968 (my 15th birthday), we moved back to Kentucky Hills in Independence, to a house at 408 Marcia, exactly a block away from our first house at 504 Colonel Drive, where we had lived since I was 5 years old.
The house we bought had belonged to Gary Gillette’s sister and her husband. Gary had lived there with them, and I had a crush on him. But, the house was filthy and it smelled awful. The first couple of days we (Mom and Dad, mostly) worked like maniacs cleaning so that we could stand to live there. I vaguely recall that our first night there we couldn’t push the beds against the walls, because the walls smelled so bad.
It didn’t take long before Mom and Dad had the place looking like home for us. Isobel and I had to share a small bedroom. Mom let me pick the colors: gray walls with ivory trim. Dad had some plans to build a wall unit that consisted of three ladders mounted perpendicularly on the walls with shelves running between them. The left side belonged to Isobel and the right side was mine. On the bottom shelf, he attached a formica-covered desktop for each of us. I talked Mom into letting me have my own extension phone and I got a gray trimline phone – absolutely the coolest phone – mounted on the wall above my desktop.
The shelf units were painted ivory like the baseboards. After they were installed, we all went on an expedition to the Blue Ridge Mall to buy some knick-knacks for them. I loved to go to the Blue Ridge Mall so we could eat at Putsch’s cafeteria and I could have mashed potatoes with yellow chicken gravy. Then we went to Newberry’s, a five-and-dime store. We found the man there. He was made of dark grayish-black lava rock. I didn’t find out until many years later that he was an Easter Island man.
He graced our shelves for years, and then I moved away in November 1972. Some time later, Dick moved out and took the man with him. He took him all the way to California to graduate school at Claremont College. Then when Dick got a job in Madison, Wisconsin, he drove his 1974 maroon Opel Manta from California to Wisconsin, stopping to visit me in Longmont, Colorado, at my house at 410 Judson Street. This was in late March 1980, according to Dick, and among the many things he had packed in his car was the man. Dick had brought him back for me.
For many years he has resided with me, but never in a place of much honor. Then a couple of years ago, when Roger was working on yard projects and looking for good “yard art,” he discovered that the man looked right at home by the back fence. After a year or so back there, Roger built the “lilac grotto” and the man moved in. Now he lives in a place of honor and beauty.