On Leaving Old West Durham

Evan and I are thinking about buying a house. We’d love to stay in Old West Durham/ Watts Hillandale, but it’s just not workin’ out for us. still, i love the neighborhood, and I would like to share why.

So I’m walking Napoleon around Watts Hillandale, as I sometimes do, since it’s nicer than Old West Durham, when I happen upon Wilson Street. I love Wilson street. It’s fabulous – beautiful houses from the 40s, great landscaping, lots and lots of charm. So there I am, contemplating what can only be a new handicapped ramp that is being built in the front of someone’s house, wondering what tragedy befell these people, when I hear a screech.


Startled, I turn around. And there she is.

My most favorite Wilson St inhabitant. Poncho lady.

I’ve seen this woman maybe 5 times in my life. Each time, she is wandering drunkenly in the middle of the road, wearing what I assume to be either a poncho, or a carpet rug with a hole for her head. Last time, she was borrowing a cup of sugar from her neighbor friend, and actually apologized for her bare feet.

Hmm, you think. That’s not so odd.

Okay, you’re right. That alone is not so odd. But what if I told you that she is in her mid forties, 5’2, around 160 pounds, and the poncho comes down to her upper thighs, and that she doesn’t wear ANYTHING. ELSE.


No shoes, no socks, no shorts, and, I’m pretty sure, no underwear. Hey, at least she’s got some great thighs.

She sees me staring at her. Poncho lady smiles. “Hey!” she recognizes me. “I’ve lost my cocker. Stupid potstinker. runs away at the first chance.”

Cocker? Is she referring to her husband? Or perhaps an overnight guest? “Oh, I’m sorry.” I look around. “What’s he look like?”

“Like a King Charles Spaniel.”

Ah Ha.Cocker Spaniel.

I start keeping my eyes peeled, when I notice a very sweet, youngish, attractive gentleman helping her. He’s literally parting bushes to look for this dog. What a nice neighbor, I think. I continue walking down Wilson, while poncho lady screams every few minutes for her stupid potstinker to come back.

Finally, I hear a shriek come from someone on a side road. “HE’S OVER HERE!” Wow. Another neighbor helping her. Poncho lady goes flying down the road, the back of her poncho flapping in the wind. I turned my head away, grateful that someone had located the potstinker.

“Hey, you little potstinker, you. Want a cookie?”

Yes. I will miss poncho lady. I doubt they have any of those where we’re going.


P.S. If, on the off chance, poncho lady reads this, I love you. You rock. Keep rockin’ it.



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