"Hi. I'm your new neighbor. My name is Eileen."
We had noticed a family moving into a house across the street, but this was the first contact we had had with any of them. And we were curious. So after introducing ourselves, we got down to the most vital information.
"Do you have any brothers or sisters?" I mean, we had to know how this might affect an upcoming game of kickball or shark attack.
"Just my brother, Joey. And, my uncle lives with us, too. He just got out of prison. He shares my room with me."
And all this was stated in a completely matter of fact tone, as if the information she was sharing with us was completely normal. As if it were an every day occurrence to have an ex-con uncle cohabiting in your bedroom. Well, maybe it was back where Eileen came from, but not on Daniels Street. So, of course, our heads nearly exploded at this news.
"Why was your uncle in prison?" we asked in wonder.
"I don't know, but I'll go ask my mom," she replied, and immediately turned to run back to her house.
"No! No! That's okay. You don't have to do that," we yelled in unison. We knew enough that it would be rude to pry, and we didn't want the family to think we were nosy or anything. We would leave that to the Brother and the Sister.
But, once we actually saw the uncle, we didn't need to know his actual crimes because our overactive imaginations quickly filled in the gaps for us. He was tall with black bushy hair and a mustache, and he, of course, wore a black leather jacket and boots (don't all criminals?). We nicknamed him Conny, and we never talked to him because he was a bank robber or a kidnapper or (gasp) a MURDERER!
Sadly, I have no picture to share of Conny, but here is the rest of the family:
|Although this picture appears to have been taken in the 1970s, I assure you it was taken in the early '90s/|
The whole family really piqued our interest, from the mom's career choice (a clown at a local ice cream parlor? Unheard of!) to their choice of home decor (the bench seat from a truck used as a love seat? Genius, perhaps). We would go to great lengths to keep up on their comings and goings, even if that meant spying on them from the upstairs window of the neighbors who lived next door. We resorted to this method because, after that initial encounter with Eileen, we never really hit it off with her and her brother Joey. For one, Eileen only advanced grade levels about once every three years, making her the only student who could conceivably drive to the sixth grade. And, Joey was too busy hanging out his bedroom window spray painting his name on the porch roof to want to join in a game of kickball.
And, then, one day they were gone, leaving just as mysteriously as they arrived. Well, at the time it seemed mysterious, but as an adult I now realize that it was the all-to-common foreclosure that sent them packing in the middle of the night. They left a lot of their possessions behind, which was just too much temptation for some of our more curious neighbors, who just couldn't resist checking them out (which is incidentally how I ended up with the family portrait you saw above).
But, never fear, we've heard through the proverbial grapevine that the family is doing just fine. They've actually invented a new type of dwelling known as the "double long" trailer, which is two trailer attached end to end. I told you they were an intriguing bunch! Perhaps Daniels Street just wasn't the place for such ingenuity.