Joe Bynes’ Trees–15 minute story–
I’ve done this before, set a timer for 15 minutes and draw–or write. Today, a story about the house next door.
My friend Joe Bynes bought it in 1960 or so. I’m not sure– a lot of people bought houses in this neighborhood then, and Black people, like Leola and Ollie and Bruce, during or just after WWII. Joe owned a lot of houses in Berkeley, five anyway, and a ranch with a Spanish colonial style house that had an intact speakeasy in the basement. In front of all his houses, Joe planted redwood trees. At this house, he planted at least eight; three in the verge, one in the front lawn, two (or three, I think one died) by my back fence, and twins in the far southeast corner. >
The woman who bought the house from Joe’s brother Harold after he died ($120,000 I think) had rented it out (after kicking the cool neighbors out by promising them $500 cash they never received) to a series of okay people–she was okay, too, not a bad absentee landlord as far as I was concerned, otherwise.
So the trees, anyway, have been there for 40-some years. I imagine they were planted in 1974, I don’t know if I heard that or if it was just the frenzy of redwood planting then, in the newly built Bart stations etc. I have been fortunate to have a view of a stately redwood and its attendant fauna, squirrels and birds, at possibly every place I have lived in Berkeley and Oakland.
Well, a Flipper has bought the house, cash, because it needs so much work and is not up to code, you can’t get a loan. The guy who redid the house next to Doug and Dean over the back fence bought it with what he cashed in off that house. We are looking forward to a less-than-horrific experience since he did that place in record time, from a junkyard shambles, and it looks great.
The trees are coming down. The two snags by the fence are gone, and the sun is blazing on the deck this morning. They took the big beauty in the front yard, too. At least they used the lumber. In back today I saw them going up with ropes to the two in the corner–I had to go out and ask, but no, they are just giving them a trim. It’s kind of bare out, but I’ll get used to it. Once the beech leafs out again I will have shade on the hot days. Things change.
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