Monday, April 28, 2008

Bethlehem Street

As long as I can remember Ma has complained about the location of the house I grew up in and where the Weebles still live some 56 years later. The house is on a dead end street. A quiet neighborhood while I was growing up, punctuated with the shouts and laughter of the neighborhood kids playing kick the can on summer nights, or baseball in the vacant lot next door to where Himself lived.

Ma didn’t mind the noise of the kids. She hated “the roar of the highway”. Next to the “Stupid Song”, it’s another favorite hymn.

The highway parallels their street and the back yard is separated from it by another backyard and house. Route 9 was a scenic highway and was the major thoroughfare into Boston before the Mass Pike was put in. When I was little, the median was lined with maple trees. During the early 60’s, a hurricane roared through and what trees the hurricane didn’t take down the highway department did. The tree-lined median was replaced with tar, concrete and metal barriers. So much for scenic.

The traffic on Route 9 has increased in the 56 years the Weebles have lived in their house. I don’t really see where there is a roar. The traffic sounds to me are white noise, easily tuned out. Most of the time, Route 9 is gridlocked so the traffic doesn’t move at all. I don’t know where Ma hears the roar.

“I’m up at all hours of the night because of the roar of the highway.”

“You can’t sit outside and enjoy the yard because of the roar of the highway.”

Dad echoes her sentiment and agrees with Ma, though I think it’s more agreement to go along to get along. He has told me when Ma whines that she hates the house and wants to move, she was the one who insisted he buy the house for her. Ma gave him an ultimatum. The house or else. I sometimes wonder if Dad is sorry he didn’t wait to see what was behind The Or Else Curtain instead of going for The Grand House Prize.

Recently in a fit of dark humor, I was telling Himself I knew of a place Ma might like. It was peaceful, quiet, and far away from the roar of the highway on the other side of town.

“Maybe she’d like to have a lot on Bethlehem St.,” I said.

“Bethlehem St?” Himself ask. “Where’s that?”

“Maybe they could find a nice spot at the corner of Bethlehem St. and St. Joseph Ave.”

“But that’s the cemetery!”

“She couldn’t complain about the roar of the highway.”

“That’s true.” Himself snickered along with me.

“Though she might not be too happy about the geese. ‘I’m up at all hours of the night because of the honking of the geese.’ I mimicked Ma. “‘You can’t enjoy the peace and quiet of the outdoors because of the geese.’ Then again, Ma not only hates the house they live in, but she hates the town. She wants to move, but I don't know where she would go. Ma doesn't want to be buried in the Catholic cemetery in town. I'm sure she would nix the burial in the Protestant and Jewish cemeteries, too. She’s told me she doesn’t want to be buried in the ground, but in a mausoleum. Where? Your guess is as good as mine.

Himself flipped through several channels while the ballgame was in commercial.

“I sure hope Auntie Rose comes through with that big check in two weeks,” Himself said.



Erica Vetsch said...


Nutterone said...

PUH LEESE... Your ma is going to complain from the great beyond! I can imagine it now!