Mike Adams

In my old neighborhood there is a house on a corner about three blocks south of the one I lived in as a child. The owners of the house had a big dog in the back yard that used to scare me half to death when I walked back and forth to G.H. Whitcomb Elementary School. For nearly five years, getting by that dog was about my biggest worry. Those were the days.

Last week, I went back to my old neighborhood and parked in front of the old house where I used to live. My wife and I took a walk from there to the old Whitcomb schoolyard. Along the way, we stopped at that house on the corner and noticed that it was for sale. I thought it would be fun to see how much the houses in the old neighborhood were worth these days. When the houses were built in the late sixties, they cost about $25,000 on average.

The flyer that we took from the real estate sign said that the house was going for $109,000.  There were pictures of every room in the house, except for the family bathroom.  After we had been there for a few minutes, we realized that it was the house that was owned by the Yates family. The bathroom that was left off the flyer was the place where Andrea Yates had drowned her five children a couple of years ago. The dog that kept watch over that house had been gone for quite some time but the place seemed scarier than ever.

When we got down to the schoolyard, my old friend Scott Maxson was there with his four-year old son, who was riding his new scooter in the parking lot. Scott and I have been friends for 29 years. Later that afternoon, we went for a drive around town and then stopped to have lunch. Afterwards, we went down to Clear Lake where we used to watch speedboat races every summer. Scott showed me a nearby hotel parking lot where a woman killed her husband after running him over in her Mercedes four times. She said it was an accident. I remembered seeing something about it on TV.

Later that night, we went out for beers with another old friend from the neighborhood named Jim Duke. Jim and I have been friends for 31 years. We sat there all night talking about the good old days while two wives and a girlfriend sat and laughed at every story.

Our conversations reminded me of the way things used to be when we were growing up. In fact, it seemed like just yesterday when our moms were waiting at home for us after school. If we got lost on the way, there was a ?block mother? sign in someone?s window where we could go to get directions home. That came in handy once in the first grade.

Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.