The house next door obviously tickled our imagination because we told the children that Boo lived there. Although it has been years since I read To Kill a Mockingbird, the house next door instantly reminded me of Boo Radley’s house...hence, the use of the name Boo.
Eunice, the real-estate agent who sold us the Sow’s Ear, said it used to be a rental property but it was partially destroyed in a fire over a decade ago. Apparently the owner, rather than repairing the house, opted to do nothing and there it has remained - untouched, sad and dilapidated.
Boo's house - you can see the lovely fret work above the front door.
The old house is a smallish Queenslander cottage set quite back from the street on a massive two lot block. There used to be an open front verandah, however the railings and front stair case cease to exist. You can see it would have been a pretty little house in its day. Our view of the house is somewhat obscured by the enormous trees which line the perimeter of our common boundary – there is a giant mango, two large loquat fruit trees, a taller than tall eucalyptus and another big tree which I don’t recognise.
From our sunroom, I can just see the greying timber stumps and the glint of the aluminium windows where the timber casements once were on that poor cottage. The yard is full of building detritus – wooden palings leaning against the side of the house, rusted sheets of corrugated iron balancing perilously on saw horses which dot the property.
Boo's front verandah and one of the saw horses
There is a corrugated iron front gate which is padlocked shut. To walk past the place, there is a tendency to walk on to the road. You can only just access the footpath because there is an overgrown collection of bushes which runs the entire width of the property. One of the bushes is a healthy wattle which blooms its golden magnificence for a couple of weeks during our mild, mild winter.
Boo's front fence
Where the mail slot is on the gate, you can just see a hint of the yellow lid belonging to the recycling bin, sitting behind the fence ready to catch the incessant stream of junk mail.
I am completely and utterly fascinated by Boo’s house. Who lived there, who owns it and why leave such a house go to ruin? There are so many unanswered questions.
The children are mildly curious too, although they have a ready acceptance of such things. It’s also a fun game wondering about Boo’s world.
As far as we can see the house sits vacant and then, one day, the boys found little treasures left under the side stairs and said they saw Boo...