Last October the people who lived across the street moved out. They’d lived here in Westchester, N.Y. for 40 years or soâ€”a lovely gaggle of older folks who relocated to San Diego. There was a woman, Carmen, who was Phillipino and married to a retired character actor, Joe Lowry. His good friend David also resided in the house. David’s former companion, a painter named Edith Montlack, died in 2003. Joe’s brother, Jimmy, who is mentally impaired, also lived in the house.
Anyhow, this past weekend a realtor held a tag sale at the house to sell all the stuff Joe & Co. left behind. Although the even started at 10 am on Saturday, cars began lining up at 7:30. It reminded both the wife and I of vultures circling a dead deerâ€”people anxious to pick at the remains. For two days there was a steady stream of cars, and finally, tonight, all had died down. That’s when we walked over, just to see how things went and to check out if any of Edith’s paintings hadn’t sold. We both thought it’d be nice to pay tribute to our departed friends by buying one of her works.
Well, we snagged a paintingâ€”but much, much more. In a somewhat mysterious move, Joe left what seems to be all of his acting keepsakes behind: Scripts, letters, photographs. We actually bought an enormous skinned drum that was used in “Apocalypse Now” for $30 (Joe worked on the movie), and I asked if I could keep his various photos and nicknacks, which were in a box in the basement. The realtor noddedâ€”all that stuff would have been tossed.
Anyhow, it reminded me of two things:
1. What do you do with all your “important” possessions without kids?
2. “Important” possessions mean nothing. Come day’s end, Joe wanted to move to San Diego and bask in the sun. He didn’t need old pictures to remind him what he once was. He wanted a new life.