|Old as the Hills
||[Feb. 16th, 2008|11:46 pm]
Mrs. Buck was my babysitter a few times when I was a kid. She was a cheerful woman, and she and her rather dour husband had lately arrived from back east—Boston, I think. I remember when Mr. Buck, who had retired, bought three vacant lots in a gully on Mooney Drive, a couple of blocks from our house, and then bought a house that was to be displaced by freeway construction in Alhambra and had it moved onto the middle lot. He had wanted the contractor to build a fairly high under-story for the house, so that it would rise closer to the level of the street, but it was done wrong. I remember how Mr. Buck was rather sour about the whole thing. Being nor more than seven or eight years old, and not being financially involved, I thought the whole project of having a house moved was just the greatest thing anybody I knew had ever done, and though Mr. Buck should be well pleased with himself, and with his house.|
Still, despite his displeasure with the siting, he fixed up the old Spanish stucco house where it now squatted down in the gully, the rooftop visible from the street, and spent years puttering about in the large yard, doing various bits of landscaping. I used to see him out working as I walked to school in the morning, and as I walked home in the afternoon. It seemed he seldom did anything but putter about his house and yard. Mrs. Buck sold Avon products, providing them with a bit of extra cash to supplement Mr. Buck's pension. They didn't really need all that much money, as the three lots had cost them less than a thousand dollars, and the house even less. The preparation of the lot and the moving of the building had been their greatest expense, costing close to two thousand dollars. I visited them a couple of times, and clearly remember sitting in the side room which had double doors leading out to a vacant spot where Mr. Buck intended to put a porch. I thought it was very peaceful down there in the gully.
The Bucks both must have died ages ago, and the old neighborhood, always a bit slummy, certainly declined. We had moved to another neighborhood a few years after the Bucks had begun their project, and seldom saw them after that. I recall what may have been the last time I saw Mrs. Buck, when she came to visit my mother and told how a house near theirs had been torched by an arsonist who had a grudge against the owner, and how bad the neighborhood had gotten. Later I heard that they had sold the house and moved out to the desert. That was about 1970, I think. We never heard from them again. Once in a great while my memory happens to wander by the Buck's old house, but I've given it little thought these last few decades.
So then the Internet got invented and real estate agents began using it to advertise, and about that time real estate prices in Los Angeles went crazy. This evening I had occasion to look up a house I had heard was for sale in my old neighborhood, and while poking around the various realty websites, I found this. It's Mr. Buck's move-in house, on which he expended perhaps five thousand dollars over a period of a dozen years, for sale, at a modest price of... $650,000! OMFG! There's a rather airy small addition tot he back of the house, but aside from that it doesn't look much different than I remember it, except for the landscaping having matured. In fact, it still looks nice down there in the gully. The neighborhood has apparently rebounded, and Mr. Buck's house seems none the worse for wear. But if the Bucks were still around I think they'd probably be as surprised as I am at that asking price. I wonder if the sellers will get it? If they do, I know one thing: I could probably no longer afford to live in the ratty old neighborhood where I grew up.