Stranger Danger?

A few days ago, as YA and I were having some lunch downstairs, she looked out the front window and said “there’s some sketchy woman taking pictures of our house.”  Now what you need to know is that every person that YA doesn’t know personally is “sketchy”.  Secondly, during spring and summer it’s not all that unusual for strangers to take photos of our gardens.  So I didn’t think too much of this until she said “She’s still out there.”  I turned around to see an older woman walking up the driveway between our house and the nextdoor neighbors. 

I went toward the back of the house and I could see her clearly. She was looking into our backyard and still taking photos.  This was the day after the new driveway had been laid, so I thought maybe she was interested in the cement work.  So I stepped out onto the back stairs and asked her if I could help her.  She said “Oh, I’m just looking at the house.  I used to live here 30 years ago.”  I replied, “Oh, are you Claire?”

I’ve heard of this kind of thing happening but never expected it to happen to me.  When I bought this house, it was in terrible shape – I had to have a clause written into the sales agreement that they get all the garbage out of the house or I would pay $5,000.00 less. I spent an afternoon in the house with Claire before the closing date; I was waiting for various contractors who were giving me quotes for painting, floors, carpet, etc.  She seemed a little over the edge at the time and I was glad to get out of there at the end of the day.

Anyway, I talked to her over the fence in the backyard for a few minutes.  In that short amount of time, I wasn’t convinced that she had backed away from thay edge.  She told me she was living in 300 square feet in her ex-husband’s basement in California – not exactly the kind of detail you need to tell a stranger.  Up until that second, I had been thinking maybe I should invite her in.  I’m absolutely sure she would have taken me up on the offer if I had made it.  But I had things I wanted to get done and I had a suspicion that if I invited her in, she might be inclined to overstay any welcome I might offer.  So we talked a bit more about changes to the neighborhood and then I went back inside.

YA was horrified that I had considered inviting her in and while I initially had a twinge of guilt, I got over it. 

Have you ever met any of the previous owners/residents of your homes?

32 thoughts on “Stranger Danger?”

  1. Only at the closing. The previous owner of our current house had been a woman younger than us who had died, so we never met her. We’ve driven by all our former homes at one time or another. Our first house is only about six blocks from our current one. We only lived there about two years. That was forty-five years ago. I haven’t seen the interior but on the outside there is an expanse of scrollwork “gingerbread” that I had cut and added when we were preparing to sell. We met and talked to a next door neighbor a few years ago. He reported that the house had been owned and occupied by a succession of Wiccans.

    Our last house had extensive gardens, both decorative and vegetable. They were a lot of work and the current owners have let them go to hell.

    The deck and gazebo I built 30 years ago on the side of the house we owned before that seems to be holding up.

    My Dad was born in Robbinsdale and when my mother was born my grandparents were living in St. Paul. I have photos of both their houses at the time they were built. I’ve often considered sending copies of those photos to the present owners. I know I would be pleased if someone did that for me, but not everyone shares my curiosity.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    In the house we live in now, the people we purchased it from show up about every 5 years to visit the neighbors and see the house. It has changed a lot since they lived here. The wife in particular is a hard driving executive, so they must feel they are visiting a third world country.

    The house I lived as a teen is interesting. My parents lived there many years after we children left, then dad went to Long Term Care and my mother still lived there. It is a 3 bedroom, brick, ranch-style home built for wheelchair access. Mom’s gardens are all gone. The neighbors there are profoundly unhappy because the new owners placed a very large work shed/barn type building right behind the house. The neighbors find this added building a looming presence over the rest of the neighborhood and they want the guy to take it down. That does not appear likely. When I drove by to see it, I thought it was pretty awful, too. In several weeks I am attending my 50 HS reunion in that same town, so I will probably drive by that house “for old times sake.”

    The saddest place to visit is the farmstead where my mother grew up. 5 cousins now own it and disagree about whether to sell it. It just looks sad.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. In Robbinsdale house one summer evening, a car stopped at the curb while we were out tending one of the gardens – a middle aged man was driving his aged mother past this house that they had lived in when he was growing up. We talked a bit, and I invited him to come back for a house tour some time, but he never did.

    Like Bill, I like to drive by former homes – heck, one is 3 blocks away and I’ve told you about that. I’ve considered sending a photo to the current occupants of my maternal grandma’s house – little two-bedroom bungalow built by my grandpa in 1925, the year my mom was born. Early pictures show a flower-covered trellis off the front porch, and 4 little kids sitting on the steps – quite charming. Unrecognizable today, as the front porch was built in solid, and it looks just like any 50s rambler (but it’s too small to ramble). I’ve included this picture on the photo board I’m putting together for Mom’s memorial this Tuesday.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Can’t quite decide whether or not this is OT. It’s sort of related to today’s topic.

    On Wednesday of this last week, husband and I had dinner at Luci Ancora, a lovely Italian restaurant in the Mac-Groveland neighborhood of St. Paul. It was a belated birthday dinner for me. At the time of my birthday, it hadn’t been quite two weeks since my second Covid shot, so I opted to postpone the dinner. At any rate, it’s just a few blocks from Steve’s lovely old hobbit house, so after dinner we drove by to see what has replaced it. Oh my! They must have built on every square inch allowed by local zoning. It’s a peculiar house to have put up in that location, not at all in harmony with neighboring properties. The assortment of different siding materials used on the front of the house makes me wonder whether they had some sort of incentive to use as many different materials as they could lay their hands on.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Melding with the neighborhood architecture doesn’t seem to be a criteria for house builders. As families get smaller the houses they build get more monstrous.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Yes, as I recall, Steve wasn’t pleased when he learned they were going to build a monster house there. Apparently this has happened to several lots in that neighborhood, and residents tried to get the zoning adapted… (I don’t recall where I learned this, and hope I’m not making it up.)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The previous owner of our current house, passed away a few months before I bought it from her estate. The oldest daughter of the next door neighbors, Jackie, was close to Margaret Emmeot, the old woman who owned and lived in the house until her death. When we moved in, Jackie wasn’t pleased when we started remodeling, and she wasn’t shy about letting me know. In a way I can understand that. I had a couple of old lady friends growing up, and I would have hated for anyone to change their lovely old houses that I loved just the way they were.

    The only other house that I’ve owned was the one in Inver Grove Heights, and I did meet and spend some time with the previous owners in the house prior to purchasing it. They were selling it themselves, not going through a realtor. I don’t recall what he did for a living, but I do remember he was being transferred to Las Vegas. Quite a lovely house, on a beautiful half acre lot. The people we sold it to, raised their three children there and still live there. Once when we visited our old neighbors who live across the street, the new owners of our house invited us to see what changes they had made to it. It’s still a nice house, but the neighborhood has been built up, and now feels very suburban.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I passed by the house where I grew up the other day – out for a drive with my mom. I was delighted to see that there was a chubby baby in a wading pool in the front yard (an adult was nearby) – the chubby baby was clearly enjoying the water. Someday I might want to see what they did to update the kitchen (it needed it). The house I am perhaps more curious about, though, is my grandparent’s house. My grandfather blonded all of the woodwork in the 1950s and I understand that one of the subsequent owners stripped all that woodwork and re-stained it. I bet it’s lovely. There is a fanciful and lovely cloud and sky painting on the peak of the front porch now (a porch that my grandfather enclosed as a screen porch – now re-opened entirely).

    I haven’t had anyone come by my current house – though I wonder what it looked like here when it was first built. This would have been the edge of Minneapolis when it went up – I think the city limits were extended south of 54th street (a block away) within a couple of years of when the house was built. I am pretty sure that at least one, possibly both, of the houses on either side of me pre-date this one – though there are some further down the block that I know came in later.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Since the Trail is a little quiet, And since my digression was deemed acceptable, I’ll share the rest of my Google search. The haint blue association led to one about Alfred Pleasonton, who was a Civil War general from Pennsylvania and who, in the 1870s promoted the belief that blue glass window panes promoted health:

        I knew about Pleasonton, but that led me to the supposed health-promoting properties of water in blue bottles, which is apparently a thing:
        I hadn’t heard about that. Had you?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. The homes I’ve owned were previously owned by banks. No contact with previous owners was anticipated or welcome. Three of the places I lived as a child have been demolished. Cheap housing on the poor sides of towns. I never understood that I was white trash until much later.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. We were the third owners of a 1914 house built at what was the southern edge of Minneapolis (48th Street). A woman who had grown up in the house rang the doorbell one day and offered us some historical details. (e.g. The jack-in-the-pulpit in the back yard had been transplanted from a wood a block away.)
    I have corresponded with the current owner of a house my father and grandfather built in a northern suburb in 1949. I sent her some old photographs and some trivia about the history of the place. (e.g. the front year spruce tree that my grandfather planted for me in 1950)
    Luckily(?) the encounters were friendly and informative.

    Liked by 6 people

  9. Hi-
    Kelly and I drove to Fairmont today to visit cemeteries around there. (Wilbert and Ceylon areas). Drove by the farm Kelly grew up on. It was a cousin of hers that kept the old farm house, but gutted it and rebuild inside. They tore down a couple old barns that did need it…but the machine shed and grain bins are still there.

    Our current house, well, mom and dad were the previous owners…. and I grew up here. Just reading Grandmas 1968 diary and she talks about this house being built. It was a rainy summer and fall, and cold and snowing in October. It was October 26, 1968 my brother got run over by the tractor.
    We moved in November 26 with no plumbing because it was too cold in the machine shed where we were living. I was 4 years old.

    I should write a blog about living in the machine shed some time.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I drive past my Grandpa Hain’s house and Grandma Eggler’s almost everyday.
    Grandmas house was for sale a few years ago so the realtors website had nice pictures of inside. Hasn’t changed much.
    Grandpas house got a large addition quite a few years ago. Haven’t seen the inside. The current owners have done a lot of nice landscaping outside. Grandpa was a good gardener and he’d like it. I always think if I saw them outside someday I’d stop and talk with them.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I was at the bank the other day a d the woman in front of me was telling her address to the teller and I said that’s the house I grew up in… she said who are you? I said tim jones. She said oh yes patsy jones had four children and taught art at the high school . How is she?
    We were the original owners of the house in the burbs with cornfields across the street in 1957 and she bought it from us in 1970.
    Two owner house. I gave her my card and told her to call me when she was ready to sell. Since then my daughter bought her first house two blocks from there and will move into in July

    My old girlfriend used to talk about her old house over by the witches hat whenever we drove by so one day I got off and drove around until we found it and went to ask for a tour
    Lady was very nice and my girlfriend appreciated it a bunch. She was 18 or so and had moved 10 years before to california where her dad was a computer geek.
    One of my kids dated a girl who lived im my grandparents house in edina
    I got to see the inside but the family was schitzo so son moved on
    I woman at my kids bus stop had a friend whos parents built my house in eden prairie so she came by and was surprised to see how the basement got finished and the kitchen redone

    I get to fargo and see my cousins houses and my grandpas house and it brings back a flood of memories.

    Liked by 6 people

  12. This is just to say that I’m home from the hospital, a distinction that seems somewhat technical in terms of all the technology I now must live among. Thanks for all your expressions of concern. Trouble started 4/23. Surgery early May. COVID confirmation mid-May. I like my chances for celebrating my mid-June birthday, but I’m hardly cocky about the summer.

    I see nothing to be gained by talking about these matters generally. They weren’t fun the first time around and probably have no ability to amuse or inspire anyone now. If anyone has questions or comments, I’d be happy to chat personally.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. So glad to hear your “voice” and very glad you’re home. And thank Molly for being good enough to keep us abreast of the news.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Good to hear from you, Steve. It’s not a requirement that stories you share here on the trail be amusing or inspiring, so if you feel like telling us about your experience, feel free. I can certainly appreciate that it wasn’t any fun going through it all, but I sure am glad you were fully vaccinated. I hope the technological paraphernalia you are now surrounded with isn’t a permanent part of your furnishings? Welcome back.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. When I was in my mid-teens, my parents built a new home on the spare lot next to the house I grew up in. The house of my childhood went through a series of owners and finally it was jacked up, put on wheels and rolled away to some new location. Presumably it still exists.

    I only lived in the new house for those few years until I went away to college and so my attachment to the house was minimal. But since it is on the same block as the house I grew up in, visits are evocative. The neighborhood is typical post-war housing and in the fifties nearly every house held a family with kids. The neighbors were close. They had bridge clubs and poker nights and organized block picnics. The kids ran together as a pack. Several of the families each bought properties on the same piece of lakeshore, so were neighbors there as well.

    The parents are all gone now, of course and the children dispersed. But the houses are still there, some modified but many essentially the same and I can name them for the families that first occupied them. Nobody living there now would recognize any of those names from over sixty years ago. The aggregated ghostly presence of all those once familiar families is especially evocative.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. OT: Hope to read the rest of these some time… Mom’s memorial is Tuesday. We’ll be heading out to Iowa noonish, back Tuesday night with any luck, and my sister will be here rest of the week. Have a good week, Baboons – see you if I can get on for a bit, but probably not much…

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Lou and Ida owned our house before us. Lou taught biology at the local college. He was a rather odd guy with unusual ideas. He had a water well dug on the property, and hooked the house up to it. That necessitated large pump/tank in the basement. Lou didn’t like the city water. Well water around here is very alkaline. We had to have the city reconnect us to the city water.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There’s a guy out in our neighborhood who is rumored to have spring water piped into his house. And it’s not good spring water either according to neighbors that know the issues he’s had with his pipes. I’m not sure it’s true, but knowing the guy, it wouldn’t surprise me either.

      Liked by 3 people

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