Protecting Our Elderly

I think my block has always had widows and widowers. Looking through the Polk Directories, I can identify widowed/single women.  It’s not as easy when it comes to the men, but they existed too. In 1946 there were 5 widows/single women living on my block.  I know about past kindnesses between neighbors.  I bet they felt at-home living here.

I wish I could talk about the elderly living in Yalecrest today, to share some of their stories. But I can’t because I don’t want to put them in danger. There are too many people that prey on the elderly and we have seen it here (i.e. woman looking for prescription meds).

But I can talk about a woman that used to live across the street. Her name was Martha. She died a couple months shy of 97 yrs old. I loved Martha.  I know I wasn’t the only one. Even though she was a widow, homebound and often couldn’t hear well, she helped bring us together… because we worked together to watch out for her. For example…

One summer morning Martha’s newspaper was still on her porch waiting for her to retrieve it. I don’t know who spotted him first– E, S, M or P. But all were pretty sure that shirtless tattooed man sitting on Martha’s stoop didn’t belong there. There was concern about Martha opening her front door. Phone calls were made to the police. E gave me a call. And then– Martha opened her doors!!

Witnesses saw Martha in her nightgown. It looked like she said something.The man got up and started stumbling down the street. But it doesn’t quite end there for me…

M&P, thinking the police were on their way, decided to trail the man at a safe distance with M’s big dog. That had to be kind of hard — following and faking like you’re not following a man who appears lost and is walking slowly!

Later that night I went over to Martha’s to hear what she had to say about her “visitor.”  She was tickled when I shared what I had heard.  I said, “We were wondering what you said to him?” With each retelling, I swear Martha grew bigger and stronger. But I bet she really did say, “Get the HELL off my porch!”

Homes that are smaller and more affordable are perfect for older downsizing couples or families just starting out. When I see these homes being flipped into mini-mansions and now advertised for a million dollars or more, I think we’re losing our elderly. And we’re losing more than that.

Preservation has NEVER been just about the bricks for me. It’s about values. And people. And the connections between them and other generations, past, present, future. I love my part of Yalecrest.  We still have what I think we’ve always had.  It’s something money can’t buy.

-Kelly Marinan
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