BY-WAYS - 2/6/47 - Apartment Tenants

Greetings, my friends, from the Land of Sunshine.

One of Tom Brenneman's faithful listeners in our domicile reports that, on Tom's broadcast yesterday from Cincinnati, a resident of that city belittled our California climate. Well, she'd better stay right there in her hot and hilly Cincy, that's cold and slippery in winter. How dare she say that our sun doesn't rise or shine until noon? It's up and smiling at 7:00 o'clock. Here it is, the 25th of January, and we are out in our yard without even a sweater on. Bob Hope says that California has its seasons every 24 hours. And that's about right. I think every human being should have the thrill of living awhile with snow - of witnessing its incomparable beauty - the thrill of coasting down a long hill, playing fox and hare, snow-balling, making a snow man, gliding along behind sleigh bells, skating, as on the Conemaugh River. Oh, memories sweet and star filled! (Yes, I saw stars - from a horizontal position - as my patient eight-graders taught me how to skate). But I had 53 years of snow - and that's enough for me. Just to please everybody, we have snow - oodles of snow - in California. But you have to climb a bit to reach it. One of these days I'll really break loose, and go sight-seeing for you. But right now neither the family car nor the exchequer is in robust condition. Virgil is still in the East, trying to settle many problems. But I think he will soon return.

How would you like to go visitin' with me - on a tour through this old but beautiful house? Built 45 years ago, it has dormer windows, a recessed entrance, large casement windows, and a cozy appearance. All shingle, painted white, with black trim. It has more "green carpet" around it than any other building in this vicinity; also a lovely palm tree. A good landscape gardener (such as Uncle Sam or Virgil) could do wonders with this place. But the owner refuses to spend any money on anything so non-productive of real money as grass. So don't scrutinize the lawn or geranium bed too closely, but come on in, and meet the folks. Across the narrow hall from Virgil and me is a short, plump woman in her forties, snappy black eyes, jet black hair, round face, and million-dollar smile. Two marriages went on the rocks - to my mystification - for she is one of the nicest, most unselfish, most generous persons that I know. She has two adorable sons, 22 and 17, who visited her at Christmas time. She is absolutely free from pettiness or meanness of any kind, yet those black eyes can flash fire with righteous indignation. Her present husband is a merchant marine - now in far-off China. Next door is a couple, married a little over a year. But the erstwhile bride is 79 - while her devoted husband is 77. He is a crabbed old codger, who scolds his wife incessantly for not following his path to everlasting vigor. He was outraged when she took to her bed with a cold, and refused to eat her "vittles." "Starve a fever, and feed a cold" his lifelong precept. But she is a lot healthier than he is; walks two miles or more nearly every morning. A wise, serene and sweet woman. Up the hall are two couples, whose doors are opposite, whose husbands typify the attitude of the army and navy. One scorns the other. No ill-will. Just a state of non-existence, as far as the other fellow is concerned. One is an ex-captain in the army air corps, who completed 20-some missions over Germany; the other was a chief petty officer in the navy - a very important person - who was incredulous and chagrined when I showed him where the waves had splashed too high - when he took a bath - and made him mop it up. But he has been a peach ever since.

It took both ex-officers awhile to buckle down to real work. But they are "on the ball" now. "Red," the ex-pilot, has an adorable little wife - a "cute little number," as a visiting veteran termed her. She works in a drugstore - and, for a month after we came here, they took their meals out. But that is an expensive proposition. So "Red," who loves hearty steaks and "big eatments," as the colored gourmet expressed it, set out to teach his wife to cook. He hadn't much patience; she needed a champion. So those two have become my special charges - and almost my favorites. I love to make pancakes on my new grill for "Red," who eats - well, not quite as many as little Black Sambo - but almost. Next door to us is a couple from Missouri, 49 and 50, who can't be bothered with the rules of syntax. But a nicer couple you could not find. Eva (long e) loves to go to rummage sales; goes foraging nearly every day; invariably comes home with something that will not encompass her 180 pounds. She and her husband, daughter and her husband, love to go deep-sea fishing. And great is their reward - sometimes. Their rock-cod is really something. I was invited to go along tomorrow. But no can do. They expect to catch halibut tomorrow - just ten miles from shore. The rock-cod is found near Catalina Island.

Now the column is all filled up - and I've barely started. Another day I must tell you about the interesting folks upstairs. Then there are six couples in the annex, besides a mother and daughter and the mother's brother. "Just folks," as Edgar Guest reminds us. But such nice folks! I am so proud of my "children." With this long-distance writing I never know until ten days later whether this reaches you or not. But I'll just keep plugging away. With best wishes.

Your sun-kissed correspondent,
Florence B. Taylor.

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