Central Ave.

September 14, 2008

Coming home from the library, we drove down Central Avenue, the tony main street of central (natch) Phoenix.  We were driving silently, hoping Moo would fall asleep, so I played the game I’ve played since I was a little girl, called, “Which House Would you Pick if you Could Have Any House on Central Avenue?”

Succinct, I know.

I know which house I really want – Brophy Mansion.  I grew up in a house just off Central, and if we peeked over our backyard fence we could peer into the grounds of the mansion, where overgrown orange trees stood guard and the occasional horse meandered by.   Whenever our ball would fly over the wall, we would scale the wall and plop down into knee-high grass.   We were too polite and too chicken to go exploring, so we’d just search out the ball amongst the flowering weeds and climb quickly back over.  We never saw a soul.  Sometimes I wish we’d been a little less polite and a little more courageous.

Brophy Mansion was huge – stretching all the way from Central Ave. to Third street and a whole block wide.  When I walked to my friend Lola’s house, I’d walk along the back border where there was just a chain link fence, and I sometimes brought carrots to feed the horses that learned to gather there.  You couldn’t make out the facade of the house very well from Central because of the large trees serving as a fence, but if you lingered long enough on the bridle path in front, you could catch glimpses – two stories, white, vines hugging the walls – with just that touch of neglect that made it romantic instead of sad. 

I dreamed of becoming a rich and famous actress on Broadway so that I could come back and buy the Brophy Mansion.  Then I’d learn all its secrets – for surely there was a crazy woman in the attic, and a beautiful girl held captive in the basement, and her tragically misunderstood but handsome brother who cared for the horses and would fall madly in love with me when I showed up and freed his sister and dispatched the crazy woman.  …Or something like that.

When I came home for Christmas during my second year in New York, the Brophy Mansion had been razed.  Now it’s a luxury housing development called “La Reserva.”  My heart breaks every time we pass it.

So maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised to realize on our drive home that I didn’t want any of those houses.  In fact I don’t want any big giant house.  The neighborhood I’ve got my eye on now (okay, Moo and I stalk this neighborhood multiple times weekly) is walking distance to a park, an elementary school, and Rosalind’s house.  The houses are smallish and modest, each with their own personalities (no cookie-cutter houses for us, thanks), with decently groomed lawns and a few friendly weeds here and there just to keep things – normal.

So I guess dreams do change. 

But I still wonder what happened to those horses.

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2 Responses to “Central Ave.”

  1. from the wings Says:

    You are wonderful.


  2. […] I remember spending a good deal of time as a child, being driven up and down Central Avenue. We were probably on the way to the Burton Barr Library (Mom was a big believer in library books  as babysitters). What I remember best about the trips though is pressing my nose to the glass as we passed one stately home after another and imagining which one I’d buy when I was all grown up. I poked around the internet before posting this and found my family aren’t the only ones who played the game of “Which house would you choose?&#82… […]


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