by Tammy Lambdin
In March 1975, my mother brought my younger sister and me back to our small hometown in middle Tennessee. We had left it behind just three weeks earlier, ostensibly for a better life near Indianapolis. My aunt lived there and had intended to help us get a fresh start. For whatever reason, the gold wasn’t at the end of that rainbow, as usual.
Cissy and I were used to moving — we moved 23 times before I was 18. But at 13 and 11 years of age, we were tired of being the new kids in school (I attended 19 schools in 4 states).
Until we found a place to live, we stayed in a motel on the western edge of town, quickly depleting our meager cash reserves. Mom finally found a rental for $80 a month. A two-bedroom cement block home, it was in the landlords’ back yard, facing the street that ran along behind them. Probably no more than 700 square feet, it was small, but Cissy and I thought it was a palace.
We settled in quickly. The house had a huge front yard, with green apple trees serving a buffet of fallen fruit for rabbits in the dawn. We made friends with kids from the neighborhood, playing under the streetlight late into the summer evening.
Life was great that first summer. Mr. Hendrix, the landlord, kept the yard mowed and the house well maintained.
Come October, my mother lost her job. November rent went unpaid, as did December’s. Cissy and I prepared ourselves for the inevitable; we knew we would soon be moving again. It had been too good to last.
The first day of our Christmas break from school, Mrs. Hendrix knocked at the front door. Mom was out, so I answered the door. I had received eviction notices before, so I knew what to expect. I might as well face the music. Mrs. Hendrix held out a box to me, smiling as she said, “I thought you girls might enjoy some bread. I bake it every Christmas for my friends.” Unprepared for such generosity, I managed a mumbled “Thanks.”
After I closed the door, Cissy and I dug through the box of goodies. There were several loaves of yeast bread, jams, candy, and new socks and gloves for all three of us. No eviction notice to be found!
That was the first of many kindnesses Mrs. Hendrix bestowed upon us. Mom never got caught up on the rent. When I left home in the spring of 1980, it was entirely probable that we were years behind. We should have been evicted many times over.
Instead, we lived more than five years in our twenty-fourth home. The homemade bread was delicious, but the Hendrixes gave Cissy and me something we had never known in our young lives: stability, roots and the comfort of belonging to a neighborhood.
6 thoughts on “Our Twenty-Fourth Home”
I know a little of how she feels. Never went to 1 school 2 years in a row and never lived more than a year on one home till age 46. I even worked on research ships so I could travel and always be gone. May have missed some things in life but sure had a lot of adventures. Home is where you make it I guess.
WOW! Never in a million years did I expect that ending to the story. How marvelous that the landlady was so kind to provide a box of goodies instead of an eviction notice and that she continued to do that for years afterwards. There are good people in this world and it is so refreshing to hear about them. Daily news is so utterly depressing and I love Heroic Stories for it’s uplifting news! Thank you!
Well, you’re probably tired of hearing from me, but I can’t help it…this is no more than what I would expect from Hoosiers, who are generally some of the finest people I have met. I was in Bible college in the ’70’s in Cincinnati, and many of my classmates were from Indiana. As a young man from Pennsylvania, I was always impressed with the warmth and generosity of my newfound friends from that state. In 2005, a young couple moved here to northeast Pennsylvania from Indianapolis, and began to raise a family. I knew that the culture shock would be painful for them in the somewhat cold and reserved world of the Quaker State, and I did my best to make them feel at home. David and I were instant best friends, even though almost 30 years separated us in age. And though I tried to reciprocate his generosity to me, even today there is nothing I could do that would repay him for his friendship. In the course of time his father fell ill, and for the sake of the family, he pulled up stakes and returned to Indiana. It was the right thing to do, but I have no one else here now of a kindred spirit, so I endeavor to be a Pennsylvania Hoosier to those I meet.
We were poor, but did not have Tammy’s insecure, nomadic life.
Thank Heaven for the angels here on earth!
And THANK YOU for brightening our day with your uplifting TRUE examples.
Peace, Love and BLessings
A true “good neighbor” in many more ways than one.
This is what life is supposed to be about. Helping Others.
I am sure they saw :mom: trying to make a living, and gave her a little hand UP, not hand OUT.
Thank God for all the good neighbors.
They are everywhere, and you are truly blessed if you either
A), live near one or B) ARE one.
AND, thank you always to heroic stories, whenever I read one, I feel connected to the good in the world.
Man, that one really hit home, no pun intended. My family moved 17 times before I was 16, and those are only the ones I can remember. I’m 59 now and that “not belonging feeling” still affects my life every day. We weren’t fortunate enough to find that landlord that would let us continue to live there instead of evicting us.