The Next Door Neighbor

The man who gave me my first paying job died last week.

Ted Noke was our next door neighbor from 1956 until we moved in 1967.  When I was old enough to push a mower and shovel a driveway, I had a job.  He paid me one dollar.  Eventually he doubled my salary.

Mr. Noke's backyard.

Of course, I didn’t know him as “Ted.”  His first name was “Mr.”  Every adult’s first name was Mr.  (Or Mrs.)

The neighborhood was a development (Cherryfield II!) of small ranch houses built on concrete slabs.  All of the adults were first-time homeowners, and they all populated their little ranch houses with two to four children, so cheap labor was plentiful.

A fine example of a Cherryfield II house.

By neighborhood standards, Mr. Noke was a quiet man. 

So who knew that he was a former military intelligence officer?  Who knew that he was a school principal?  Who knew that he was a poet, that he owned Mount Auburn Press?  In a sports-obsessed neighborhood, who knew he was a golfer?  (Actually, none of us knew from golf.  Framingham Country Club was a rumor, for all we knew.)   

Amazing what you can learn from an obituary

I last drove through the old neighborhood a couple of years ago.  That lawn that looked like it was the size of a football field on a 90-degree day?  It was only worth a buck.


About Gerry

I've been covering Connecticut news and sports since 1974. I know, I don't look that old.
This entry was posted in It's all about me, Living in the Past, Noticed, People and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The Next Door Neighbor

  1. Gerry's Mentor says:

    Are you sure it wasn’t Del Boca Vista Two?

    • Gerry says:

      Nah. The name of the development had to end in “field.” Cherryfield, Ridgefield, Pinefield. Vistafield doesn’t cut it. Besides, there were no vistas.

  2. Cat says:

    Mr Brooks, you missed your calling.

    Love you on the news, don’t get me wrong, however you have such a way with telling a story that can actually put someone right there in the middle of it.

    I do hope that you are saving all your little files and one day put them into a book of short stories.

    Its fun to click on your FB ,just to see where you might take me back to on that particular day.

    This was a great story indeed, I have no comeback except to say thank you,
    I’m certain Mr Noke would be honored.

  3. Joan says:

    Isn’t it funny when you go back to your old neighborhood, the houses & yards are much smaller than you remember them being. Maybe becasue we were smaller then too! Also, we NEVER would call a neighbor or a friend’s parent by their first name. It’s funny, or sad, how some things have changed.

  4. Jeff says:

    I drove past the little house I grew up in (in Rye, NH) a couple of years ago. It was a typical little post- WW-II cape on a corner lot. Horror of horrors – it’s not red with white trim anymore . . . it’s grey with black! The big maple tree in the front yard is gone, and they’ve added dormers to the upstairs where my room was growing up. Back then it was little more than a semi-finished attic. There were crawl-spaces under the eaves we could get to by removing a “secret” wall panel, and go exploring boxes of treasures my parents had stored away.

    I guess you can’t go home again, can you?

    Was life that much simpler then, or were we just blissfully ignorant?

  5. Rebecca's Daughter says:

    I am so glad one of your posts about men failing to wash up after visiting the john showed up as a link to my post about wash day back in the long-ago day.

    I perused your Feb. 15th entry and LOVED it. I would be THRILLED if MY “possibly related post” showed up on your blog. I know it’s bad manners to promote one’s own blog when commenting, but if you have a minute, I’d appreciate you stopping by and chatting via a comment or two.

    Take care, Mr. Fine Writer!


  6. Rebecca's Daughter says:

    I know, those “possibly related posts” often fly out of no where. I got such a chuckle out of it because as a teacher, I have LONG refused to shake my male students’ hands!

    Anyway, here is the link to the post sorta related to yours! Thanks for the reply and for stopping by. rbs

  7. Rebecca's Daughter says:

    This makes me a little nervous. Here’s my 3rd attempt to send my link! I won’t bother including the chit-chat I shared in the previous replies!

  8. Rebecca's Daughter says:

    Thanks, Gerry. Since I way out here in the wild, wild west – Eagle Mountain, Utah, I doubt I’ll run into your colleague the weatherman. So your secret is safe.

    I appreciate your sneaking a peek and wish you well. I’ll stop by again, I’m sure.


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