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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

Coquina Gables Neighbors

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 3/4/2024
Occurred: 4/1/1963
Posted: 9/8/2022
Page Views: 682
Topics: #St.AugustineBeach #Autobiography
Meeting the neighbors in our new neighborhood.

Although in my seventies I self-identify as an introvert, that clearly wasn't always the case. As a 5-year-old in New Jersey, I had walked around the entire block, introducing myself to any neighbor who answered the door and asked them if they had a record player. I was a little more subtle as a 12-year-old, but I was still ready to get to know the neighbors.

So, nearing the end of my sixth grade experience, we had school photos done. (In black-and-white, of course; in those days, color photos would have cost far too much to be practical. I colorized this one.)

By now we'd settled into the new home. Mom had palm trees planted in the front yard and put the old spinning wheel she'd brought from Vermont on the front porch.

Here are Mom, Grampa and Gramma posing in front of the house. Notice that Grampa is still able to walk and stand at this point.

Behind Mom and me is our new car, a Chevy of some kind. (I've never been a Car Gay.) She had traded in the metallic green Chevelle station wagon for it.

Immediately East of our house, was the home of the Fayes, a retired couple that seemed nice enough, though I found Mr. Faye, a huge bull of a man, to be somewhat intimidating. His wife, on the other hand, only slightly taller than my own diminutive mother, was sweet as pie.

They had a granddaughter, Mimi, who came for many extended visits. It never occurred to me to wonder what her home situation was. In any case, she became friends with my sisters, and they continued to hang out even after we'd moved to town.

This building, further east and on A Street, was at this time occupied by the family of my classmate, Danny Guidi. However, a year or so later, they sold it to Herbert and Agnes Steingberg, who would a few years later become my parents-in-law.

Directly across the street from us was a house with a floorplan identical to ours. It was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Heitman. Mr. Heitman had been a radio DJ somewhere. That was probably the first time I'd heard of that as being an actual job. The disk jockeys on the radio station I played (WFOY) just seemed to be there. But at 12 years old I hadn't really thought much about jobs and employment.

Mrs. Smith lived at the end of the block, in a home that later was to be purchased by an older couple who shared my interest in photography. Other than that, I don't remember a thing about her.

This is Richard (Ricky) Martin and his dog, Butch. Richard was maybe a year older than me, and it was he who invited me to join his Boy Scott troop. That was interesting in itself, as his troop, 327, was sponsored by the Lutheran church. As a Catholic, the other boys in my class all belonged to a troop sponsored by the Catholic church. But I did join Ricky's troop and never regretted it.

There were, in fact, a lot of kids in the neighborhood for us to play with. Three doors West of us was a family of four kids, who were of interest because they all seemed to have different fathers or mothers. I never could keep track of who all the adults in the house were.

During the school year, we were picked up each morning by Bus 32, which brought us back in the afternoons. School was about 5 miles away, but across the Bridge of Lions and Matanzas Bay and over to Saint George Street.