« Idiot Moments | Main | The Church Was Closed But Angels Were on Duty »

Monday, 06 February 2012

Nameless Neighbors

By Andrea Kline

My father, a WWII veteran and New York City firefighter, lived for 48 years in the same garden apartment with my mother.

Most of the neighbors were his peers who had all moved into the cooperative apartment complex built for WWII veterans at the same time and never moved out. Yet despite living with these neighbors for most of his adult life my father never called them by their given name when speaking about them.

Each neighbor had a special name based on his or her attributes, most decidedly unflattering. There was the portly gentleman, “little Mr. Five by Five.” The anxiety-ridden gentleman who circled his car several times to make sure it was locked was “Crazy around the car.” And his neighborhood enemy was “FU Johnson.”

“Waterbags” was the overweight lady who insisted she held a lot of fluid and the hearing challenged woman was “Little Deafy.”

It drove my mother crazy but drove my brother and me into gales of laughter. After my mother’s death, my father spent some years in an assisted living facility where no one had names either.

Now I’m in my sixties and my father is only a memory I carry in my heart. But now my husband carries on the proud tradition started by his father-in-law. The other day I was in the kitchen and my husband, glancing out the window said, “Look, it’s the crazy dog lady.”

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Nice job Andrea. This is a topic that needs to be "addressed" as I think we all do it. Perhaps we do not know the name of the person, but learning it would be a nice social attribute. Hope this inspires us all to remember how precious our given names are to us all.


Your Dad and the rest of your family are not the only ones who identify people by their habits,afflictions or appearance.

We belong to an organization that sends out a card upon the death of any member. In order to be certain that the membership really knows which person has died the card may look like this.

John talked a lot.

Bill wore spats to meetings.

Ed had a facial tic.

See, it happens everywhere.

You may pick up the paper one day and see the obituary of:

MARY I. REDFERNNE (Crazy dog lady).

Don't Be Surprised!

I never realized how much I do just this type of thing. Let’s see…there’s (hairpiece, Barbie Doll, beehive) that come immediately to mind.

Wonder what some might refer to me as…...Actually, I’d rather not know.

I know how good it makes people feel to hear their own names but I,too,am guilty of using nicknames,mainly using letters. For instance, I have 2 Jennys, 2 Joshes and 2 Barbaras in my family I call Josh's Jenny, JJ. Because of my letter-naming, my grandchildren with children have decided to call me GG for great-grandmother. I kind of like it.

How funny. God knows what people say about me!

Hahaha...I'm having a good laugh reading the story and the people's comments. Thanks guys

The comments to this entry are closed.