Sunday, August 29, 2010

vivid memories of a color blind (earless) man

I'm writing my entry for Mama Kat's Writers Workshop a bit late because I was traveling this week and was posting via my iPhone, which is no good past a picture and a few words of text. So I am writing and posting this today, Sunday, in the wee hours of the morning.

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Mama's Losin' It


"My childhood neighbor" was an old man named Mr. Dull. 

Mr. Dull was an elderly man who lived next door to us. Like many of the properties, ours included, his home was situated on an acre or so of land where he harvested macadamia nuts, tangerines, cumquats, cherry tomatoes and who knows what else.  He sold these items at farmers markets and often shared with his neighbors.

Mr. Dull was a widower. I don't know much about his wife, but she was gone before we moved into the house next door when I was a year old or so. He was a hunched over old man, who was a cancer survivor, having lost one of his ears (that's right, he only had one ear) to cancer, was color blind, often roaming his property in mismatched old man socks, shorts and suspenders. 

An interesting character to little kids, right? 

I remember my mom leaving him dinner on the fence and my dad going over to help him with odd and end things. Sometimes he would talk to my brother and I through the fence when we would pick the blackberries that grew on the fence that separated our properties.

His home was not carpeted. Nor with hardwood, lanolium or tile. It was concrete. And he had a vinyl restaurant booth in his kitchen. My parents insisted he hosed his house out once a month instead of vacuuming. (Mom, if you read this, maybe you can comment on this topic)

A vivid memory I have of Mr. Dull was of a visit in  his front yard. My mom (or dad, or both, I really can't remember) were visiting with him and I was playing, running back and forth between his yard and ours. At one point I picked one of his cherry tomatoes. Why I did this, I don't know. I was never a fan of anything tomato. But I picked one of HIS cherry tomatoes. And he asked me "Are you going to eat that?" I told him "no" and as quick as I uttered that word, he stuffed that tomato into my mouth and said "You pick it, you eat it." I learned my lesson... And I am still not a tomato fan.

I don't remember when Mr. Dull passed away. Or how. I think I was away at college when it happened. I don't know if he was at home or in a hospital. If he had family with him or if he was alone. I'm embarrassed to admit not knowing these details as he was such a vivid part of my childhood home. 

But he died. 

A new family bought his property. Tore down his home and built a brand new, huge home in its place, removing his cherry tomato plants and macadamia nut trees.


  1. You have a rather vivid memory sweetheart and yes he did hose out his house. Not however monthly. Annually at best. He was quite the character. He died from lymphatic cancer. He had a caregiver at his side and he was at home. His daughter never came to his side.
    Love you my daughter

  2. It's great that you have someone to fill in the blanks for you!

    Up until age 7 I lived in garden apartments and I remember lots of our neighbors, young and old, mostly sitting outside on their stoops.

    You wrote a nice tribute to Mr Dull, I bet it made him happy someone is still thinking about him.


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