One of my favorite neighbors, possibly of all time, is selling his building. You may have heard me talk of him before. John is a conservative judge with a great love of small industrial towns, historic preservation, gardening, wayward dogs, and salvage art.
But now his building is for sale and his realtor has clearly advised him to boring it up -- make it look like the house of an everyman, so others can envision themselves within it. Problem is, John is no everyman. He's a singular character, though you'd never know that now, looking at his house.
Gone is the low fence made of handpainted old ladders. Erased is the mismatched patio furniture, culled from years of dumpster browsing. Removed is the handcarved tribute to our former alderman, a wretched woman to whom John took a liking after she possibly removed a zoning restriction or turned the other way to his parkway wonderland.
One of his tenants, who had been his caretaker and essentially surrogate daughter, once described herself as the 'heir to the wobbly throne.' They had a falling out soon after and unfortunately she moved on. I like to think she would have carried on the wonderfully claptrap legacy of this house. But it's not to be.
Goodbye backyard opera singing. Farewell blue mirrored ball in the garden. Godspeed cantankerous John -- painter of houses, master of the 6am conversation, guardian to lost souls, carver of discarded wood, hoarder of bricks, adjudicator on the bench and beyond. You will be missed.