In 1969, I left the Quad-Cities for Madison, Wisconsin and moved into a duplex on a quiet suburban street named Lyman Lane.The one story duplex was built by a man we’ll call Lee who worked for a concrete company. He lived in one side of the duplex, and wanted to rent the vacant side. We signed a lease for one year, and I ended up staying for seven.
Lee was a good landlord. The rent he charged was well below the norm, he allowed me to have three dogs, and he built a tennis court in the backyard, using left over cement from his work. We played tennis quite a bit and we were both gracious in defeat – and in victory. Once Lee was nice enough to climb to the roof of the duplex to retrieve a tennis racket I had smashed and tossed up there in a fit of rage.
Lee and I became close friends, sharing good times, a few bad times, a lot of Badger football games, and an occasional beer or four. When he drove his car into the side of a train, I visited him in the hospital almost every day. Years later he returned the favor when I was hospitalized for many weeks following major surgery. He loved putting on a goofy hospital gown and a mask, and pretending to be one of my “nurses.”
Seven years and as many disappointing Wisconsin football seasons passed, and it came time to a buy a house and move away from Lyman Lane. Over the years I relocated several times within the Madison area. Lee moved a number of times too, for a while to different state. Eventually he returned to the Madison area, started a construction business, and built himself a bigger duplex. Over the years we remained friends via phone calls (texting hadn’t been invented yet) and by getting together now and again
In 2013, forty-four years after I first arrived in Madison, and had endured too many Wisconsin winters my soul mate, Andrea, and I moved to Marana, Arizona, near Tucson.
The day we moved in to our new home, more than seventeen hundred miles from the duplex on Lyman Lane, we got a surprise. Upon opening the refrigerator, we saw a note, hand-printed on a page from a yellow legal pad. It read, “Welcome to the neighborhood,” signed Lee and Annie. Without our knowledge, and keeping it secret among our mutual friends, Lee and his wife Annie had purchased the house next door!
We are neighbors again – nearly half a century later.