Back in the early 1940s I lived in what was called the field. It was the short end of West Ninth Street.
There was one house that sat in a field at what is now Martha Berry, and the field extended all the way back to DeSoto Avenue. Martha Berry, back in those days, looked like a street where only houses were. There were no four lane highways back in those days. They didn’t need them, for there were not that many cars.
On the corner of what is now Martha Berry and West Ninth Street was a huge two story house. The rest of the houses in the area were just ordinary. This one was a two story with an attic room on top of it. It was the only house that I was ever in that had 13 rooms. There was six rooms and a hallway on the first floor and six rooms and a hallway on the second floor, with stairs leading up to the attic room.
The house was in a rundown state because it was turned into rental property. People were always moving in and out of it. No one lived in it very long. I remember in later years it was boarded up and no one lived in it all. It was eventually torn down and an eating place built there. I believe it was called the Dari Delight.
It was in the early ’40s when I lived in the field. When I got home from school I would get my little red wagon and go out to Scant Corner and go though the area hunting bottles. This was the way that I made my show fare.
I had a good day and was headed home when a lady I will call Mrs. Gramm stopped me and gave me a couple more bottles. She said that the big house was empty and she saw some more bottles in the yard. I hurried home and unloaded my wagon and headed back to the big house.
I started by picking up bottles in the yard. With about a half wagon load I decided to check out the inside. I pulled my wagon up to the back porch and went up the steps. I stepped inside and stopped. A cold chill went down my back and the hair stood up on my neck.
I stood still, listening. I looked around the hallway but didn’t see or hear anything. A coke bottle lay in the hallway. That got me worked up, seeing the bottle. I went to it and picked it up. I heard a noise but didn’t pay any attention to it, for in the room were more coke bottles.
I began a room to room search. I would take the bottles out and put them on the porch and back inside I would go. I was so excited about finding so many bottles that I forgot where I was. But I stopped when I heard a noise, and I realized I was on the second floor. With an arm full of bottles I ran down the steps, down the hallway and out onto the porch.
The bottles that I had placed on the porch were gone. I put down the ones that I had in my arms. I walked back and looked in the hallway. There lay a bottle. I went in and picked it up. I then began a search of the house again.
I went back though the house, finding bottles where I had already been. The light inside kept playing with my eyes. I hadn’t really paid much attention. I took what bottles I had and decided to see what was in the attic room.
The stairs that led into the attic room was small. There was just enough room for a person to get up them. As small as I was, I didn’t have any trouble. I stopped at the top of the stairs and looked around. There on the back wall was a picture of a woman. She was dressed in the clothes that women wore in the old days.
She had a white blouse that had lace on it and a blue jacket worn over the blouse. The dress was one of the long kind that went down and covered her shoes. All you could see of her shoes was the toes. Her hair was done up into a bun. She had one of the most beautiful faces that I have ever seen.
I stood looking at her eyes, which was a dark color. I don’t know how long I stood there. A noise made me jump and I remember running back down the stairs. I stopped when I got on the back porch.
I remembered that I had three bottles in my hand when I started down the stairs. I reached the back porch empty handed. I don’t remember dropping them, but I must have. The bottles that I had gathered outside was still in my wagon. I walked back and looked into the hall. A bottle was lying in the hall. I shook my head and went down the steps, getting my wagon and heading home.
At supper that night I told my mother about the bottles and the picture on the wall. She shook her head and scolded me for going in the house. I remember that a few days later that some people came and boarded it up.
I often wondered if the incident with the bottles was my imagination. The picture on the wall, was that imagination too? If so, I knew how to pick ’em for she was a beauty.