When I moved to Dallas from Fort Worth in 1996, I landed in a tiny rent house on Daytonia Avenue smack in the middle of Little Forest Hills. Believe the hype: Little Forest Hills has a long history of funk I was glad to take part of for about two years, before I decided to buy a house of my own in the comparatively less funky Junius Heights.
My next-door neighbor Bob was a professional artist who specialized in shadow boxes. A guy down the street was a sculptor. Random musicians--most of them guitar players for struggling blues bands--lived all over the neighborhood. But those were the normal folks. The balance of the neighborhood was made up of elderly insane people. One old dude who lived across the street from me used to go outside every day and take measurements of his non-running Buick station wagon. The old dude's wife once walked into my house, unannounced, and started searching for her "drawings."
Then there was Otto, another old guy who lived two doors down from me. The day I moved in, Otto came to the door wearing a homemade crash helmet that made him look like a conehead and welcomed me to Little Forest Hills. Then he announced that it was his responsibility to mow my yard, the neighbor's yard and his yard, as it afforded him a break on his rent from the landlord. Otto did mow the yards for a while, then stopped for two months in the summer while the grass grew to knee height. Oddly, Otto put his mower up for sale for five dollars, leaving it out on his front yard with a sign. I went to his front door, paid his wife and then started mowing my yard the following weekend. As soon as I started up the mower on a Saturday morning and proceeded to mow the grass, Otto bolted out of his house and asked me, "Who told you could mow this yard?!?!" I don't remember what I said to calm Otto down or if reason worked with him, but I was in real fear of having my ass kicked by a 70-year-old man. Otto was a big guy.
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Sadly, Otto was cut down during the prime of his weirdness. While riding his motor scooter--his only source of transporation--Otto got hit by a DART bus. He survived but had to be taken to an assisted living center. I'm not sure how much protection his homemade helmet provided poor Otto. Anyway, give me Otto over McMansions any day.