The last time this happened out our backdoor was when Colleen's Cottage was bought and taken down by the new owners in order to construct a confined space to place items too large for the nearby lot at East Central Pawn.
I remember it well. I and so many others shopped at Colleen's Cottage through the years. She moved her business to the shops at the Coleman and basically went uptown. But the day the equipment came and set up to take the Cottage down, I went inside with my camera to take a few photos which I then made into a set of greeting cards for the previous owner. We met often at the rose bush in the alley more often than in her shop and had become friends.
Mary Daugherty was working at LEAD Agency at that time through an AARP program and had brought her grandson Hayden with her that day. He was fascinated by big equipment and parked himself on the ramp out our backdoor and watched every piece of that building go down. There was a lot of noise as the glass in the windows shattered and the wood splintered.
And then it was quiet.
It got quiet again out that back door this week when the houses on B Street went down.
There goes the neighborhood. Houses have memories and people who have lived in them will remember the joy and the sadnesses they experienced inside those walls. Those houses were neighbors to each other. Year after year. Season after season, but the last several seasons, no one came to care for them, which reminded me of my 6th grade class in Big Spring, Texas. The teacher Miss Jewel, allowed us to memorize poetry and recite it aloud. She kept track of the number of lines we learned and at the end of the year, I earned a book of poetry I still cherish. 100 favorites, only some of them were ones memorized that year, many others were as they say, "over my head" and some actually still are.
I often thought about the gift she gave me for loving poetry, but also think of all those others who had the chance to be brave and stand in front of the class and speak words we might not have then known all that deeply. Since then and through the years I thought of prisoners of war and how some of what got them through long and lonely days were reciting poetry and lines of the bible that had been memorized as children.
One of my favorites memorized that year came to mind lately and after these two neighbor homes when down, I flipped to Home by Edgar A. Guest to read those lines and reflect that indeed it takes a "heap of living in a house to make it home."
Abandoned and uncared for houses can become actual homes for ... vermin or pests of a great variety. Where I live in the Craig County, there just aren't any abandoned homes along the highway corridor north of Vinita, because, though vermin might come to be there, they also could serve as hide-aways for runaway prisoners, who do escape from the facility on the other end of Hope Avenue, which could be known as Hopeless (but no one says that outloud around there).
For a number of reasons the houses that come close to falling down on themselves can eventually get some help from the City of Miami to complete that fall and to actually take away the pile. And that is what just happened to the houses on B Street.
The City of Miami has 13,500 residents but over half of the houses in town are actually rentals. Many of the homeowners become landlords, or as they call themselves property managers for houses they may have once grown up in, or for purchases made as investments. There are many rentals that are well cared for and maintained. But there are some that fall off the maintenance schedule for too long. Roofs go unrepaired long enough, the interior becomes damaged and the home is no longer rentable or habitable. No income, no taxes paid on them. These houses go to sleep.
And the City can follow procedures found in the International Property Maintenance Code which had been adopted by the City, follow procedure and bring those houses down and clear the property. There is a process and those processes may take a year to move through, but the houses on B Street got to the end and "there went the neighborhood." But honestly, the neighbors were already long gone, and for now we have a brand new green space to view and neighbors we hadn't been able to see before.
For more information on the process the City of Miami follows check out the miamiokla.net website for code-compliance.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim