Little old ladies need piece of mind

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By Richard RoBards

But even Granny Clampett needed help sometimes.

Mom has lived in a nearby town in the same house on a corner lot since 1959. Three children, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren later, she finds her peace in the flower beds that surround her residence.

That peace was disrupted several weeks ago as temperatures warmed.

Sitting around her kitchen table one Sunday after church, she explained (complained really) that her side yard has been invaded. She didn't say specifically, but I think she wanted me to do something about it.

This story will have a happy ending.

It's a cross between poor planning and the world's lack of respect for personal property. All I know is that an 85-year-old woman shouldn't have to worry about trespassers.

The Monday following the breakfast complaint, I put a call into her town's mayor. He's a part-timer who holds irregular office hours. My message must have become lost, because for the next 10 days I never heard a word.

Then, upon return from a three-day vacation to Huntsville, Ala., I had an e-mail from my brother that said in part: "Mother has squatters on her property and has called the police department - the chief no less. Today as the cars lined up on her street for school, a couple of guys pulled out lawn chairs and sat in mother's side yard and sidewalk. The chief came and had them move, but immediately after he left they resumed their position."

My mother lives within a gap wedge of an elementary school. Parents who evidently don't have anything else to do begin lining up on her street at 1 p.m. for a 2:55 school closing. According to Mom, it's a big mess and the daily ritual has become a reunion as the same people stand by their vehicles, smoking and joking. But not until just recently had they been using her shaded side yard as a resting place.

My brother jokingly asked: "Do I need to take Dad's guns back to the house?"

My brother said a few other things that wouldn't make the politically correct Top 10 list.

My mom doesn't venture out much in her 1995 Ford Taurus, but if she wanted to between the hours of 1 and 3 p.m. each weekday, she'd have a hard time maneuvering around the vehicles parked along her street.

The city and the school system have a solution that they'll utilize next year - moving the waiting traffic to a non-residential street that can accommodate way more traffic, but with a lot less shade.

The mayor did finally return my call, and when I explained what was going on, he found a way to correct the problem in the short-term until the new route could be implemented in the fall.

As Mom said in her own e-mail (the one she was able to concentrate on after her squatters left): "This has been a day to remember. The city workers came by like a bird looking for its nest. About 1:30, the chief rode by and assured me that they had everything taken care of and if anything else happened I should call him.

He has been very nice - so far. The police go by often, too.

Thought you might like to know how everyone is reacting. I can't believe it happened.

Oh, and they painted my curb yellow to boot."