Good neighbors are sometimes difficult to find. We had two great neighbors, one right next door, and another that was a half dozen houses down that we lost this calendar year.
Harry was of Greek heritage. Even though he was in the United States since at least 1958, he never lost his heavy-duty accent. Sometimes he’d speak, and you would just nod if you had an inkling of what you thought he was talking about. Harry was a big time flirt, in that non-threatening, non-creepy way. He flirted with my wife, my mother-in-law, my sister, almost any visiting woman. I’m still not convinced that he knew MY name, but my spouse’s, he knew.
He was very active in his church, which runs a very dynamic Greek festival each year. If we couldn’t make it, he’d be sure to pick up some baklava and other taste treats. He also was an avid gardener, and he supplied us with more vegetables in the summer than we could eat; we froze some. And he grew some nice flowers, that he presented to my wife on a regular basis. Truth is, she got more flowers fronm Harry than she did from me in the past four years. Unfortunately, Harry became ill and died in February at the age of 82.
Mrs. Ellenbogen was an elegent lady of 85. (Her name was Mary, but WE never called her that.) She was a master gardener and the front of her house was meticulous. She was spry, walking all over the neighborhood. Her husband Bernard, a retired lawyer over a decade her senior was understandably lame. They’d both head for the corner, she’d get there then go back and walk the rest of the way with him. She was very vital and very devoted to her spouse. She was very interested in our daughter’s well-being, and would talk with her when we met on the street.
The Ellenbogans wintered in Florida for about half the year. One day in April, Mr. Ellenbogan fell into their pool down in the Sunshine State; she jumped in after him, and they both drowned. Unlike Harry, who had shown signs of decline over the last year, her death was a particular shock to us and to the neighborhood.
I found out just this month that Harry’s daughter Cookie (her name is Maria, but we never call her that) is buying the Ellenbogan house. Harry, she and her brother Dino had all been living on separate floors in Harry’s house. Dino will stay in Harry’s old house, and rent the upstairs.
We miss Harry and Mrs. Ellenbogan very much, but I think that they’d be pleased that their houses will remain in good and loving hands.