“It’s almost perfect. I like everything about the neighborhood and this house, the size, floor plan, even the upgrades. The only thing I don’t like is that,” Jim said, pointing to the big green box in the front yard.
“That is the electric company’s transformer for your house and the houses on either side of you,” the realtor replied.
Jim asked his realtor Sandy, “Is there any way to hide it, landscape around it, decorate it or disguise it?”
As the words left his mouth, an older gentleman stopped and sat on the green box. He looked winded. A couple of minutes later, the stranger stood and walked up the street to the next green box. Again, he sat for a couple of minutes before moving on, working his way to the end of the street, one green box at a time. The man turned around and made his way back, revisiting every green box along the way.
Sandy put the lock-box back on the door and drove out of the cul-de-sac. “Let’s look at the last house on your list before you make any decisions.”
* * *
Two days later Jim and Sandy were back for a second look at the house with the green box. Jim stood in the front window surveying the front yard as the older man, out for his walk, sat on the green box to catch his breath. Jim walked outside and introduced himself adding, “It looks like you’ve found a good use for these transformers.”
“I’m Morey, Stanley Morris Stevens the third actually. I live around the corner. If weren’t for the green boxes, I would have to carry a camp chair with me. Between my heart and lungs, I’m not strong enough to walk more than a few yards at a time anymore. I used to run in 5- and 10-K charity events. Now I have to be content to make my way to the end of the block and back.”
“I’m thinking of buying this house. What can you tell me about it and the neighborhood?”
“I was one of the first to build here. I know the history of every house. Yours was owned by two generations of the Williams family. They moved across town to something smaller. It was a great place to raise a family. Still is.”
“How about you Morey, did you raise a family here?”
“I did. I live alone now. My wife passed a couple of years ago. I have two daughters who live in town. Both have kids of their own. They take turns checking on me every day. If they had their way, I would be wearing one of those necklaces that alert someone if you fall. But I’m not ready for that yet.”
* * *
Jim bought the house and painted the green box to jazz it up a little. Whenever Jim saw Morey out for his daily walk he would meet him at the green box with a glass of water. Morey shared the history of each house. Jim loved hearing about kids playing kickball in the park and fishing in the stream running through the neighborhood. It was before electronic games and computer tablets. Parents felt it was safe for kids to be outside till dark. Summer picnics and holiday parties were a tradition that had fallen to the wayside as new neighbors moved in.
One day Morey had a companion on his walk, his youngest daughter Meg. Meg stayed back to talk to Jim while Morey continued on. “I can’t believe dad will be ninety in a couple of months.”
“Ninety! He’s out here two or three times a day. I admire his dedication. Are you doing anything special for his birthday?” Jim asked.
“We’ll get the family together for a party. We’re making a DVD of the different generations doing something for him. It involves, music, dancing, jokes and interviews. I think we’re having as much fun making it as dad will have watching us being silly.”
“I have an idea but I need your help. Your dad has been filling me in on the history of each house, the families who lived in them and where they are now. Can you get me contact information, or at least the names of the families?”
“I’ll see if I can find my mom’s Christmas card address book. That will be the best resource.” They exchanged phone numbers as Morey walked up to sit for a minute.”
* * *
On Morey’s ninetieth birthday he started out on his morning walk. When he reached the first green box he found a smaller green box with his name on it. As he caught his breath, he opened the box to find notes from old neighbors, photos of backyard parties and pictures of the families then and now. At each green box he found more birthday wishes and happy memories.
Morey’s walk took a lot longer than usual as he read the notes and inspected the pictures. When he turned the key and opened his front door, Morey was greeted by his family and faces from the past. Old neighbors hugged one another; they shared pictures and stories, catching up on their personal journeys after leaving the neighborhood.
Jim stood in the background enjoying the warmth and electricity in the room, grateful for the beautiful green box in his front yard.