We found the accommodations fairly quickly. It was in an old house in the city’s west end not far from the University and not far from the British sounding bay and beach and city park. Funny that beach for there was an extremely large public outdoor swimming pool adjacent to and at parallel odds with the sand and surf of the British sounding bay. It was somewhat oxymoronic to me in having a public swimming pool situated on a beach beside the ocean.
We parked the car on the street and slowly walked up to the front door of the house. We double checked the address to ensure ourselves that we were in the correct location. The house itself looked to be about 100 years old, with some grey beaded glass stucco siding and cedar cladding on its exterior. It had a very large front window showcasing a very large and cluttered drawing room – as they called living rooms in those days. There appeared to be a basement, a main level where we were standing, a second story with two opposing windows followed up with an attic that had a very small window as well as vents. The roof was extremely high, “A” framed, with a very steep angular pitch to it. There was minimal front grass and the steps leading up to the stoop and front door were of the basic stamped concrete pad formation. The front door was large: of wood, dark and heavy. The house was one of many similar designed houses for the area and it was situated on one of the main streets of this community. – Fourth Avenue I do recall.
“Well, here goes,” we both said to no one in particular.
We rang the bell and waited in nervous anticipation. Waited! Waited! We rang the bell again then heard in a very high pitched squeaking female voice:
“I’m coming, I’m coming, hold your horses now, I’m coming” she squealed in an impatient drawl.
We couldn’t see her, only hear her weak lilting voice.
We detected a number of latches, or locks being sprung, about five it seemed, and then the door slowly opened. We looked straight ahead but saw nothing, nothing but a long dark hallway that led into a very old fashioned kitchen with a window that provided light and a view to the back laneway. The air was heavy, musty and badly perfumed. We could hear the TV from where we stood.
“Down here boys.” she whimpered
We looked down, in disbelief. Standing there in front of and below us was an old lady, in her early 80’s I would guess, maybe late 70s. She stood there about four foot eight inches tall, dwarf like and as thin as a waif. Her hair was curly, thinning, multi-coloured and stood up in such a disorganized disarray of hair that it appeared as if she had had electric shock therapy up her ass. She was heavily made up. Her lipstick was of bright red in colour but missed her lips entirely. Same with her eyes. I think they were hazel but it was difficult to tell with her old fashioned rimmed glasses and eye make-up that also missed the mark. Her painted eyebrows were orange brown in colour, crooked and situated well above the upper rim of her specs. She was draped over in a brightly coloured day dress and slippers that had that pom, pom puff look on the slipper tops that were all the rage and fashion in the 1920s. Or so I am told.