I live in a college town. The homes in the blocks just off campus were a community fifty years ago. You can still see echoes of the years after WWII when it would have been homeowners with families. Now it’s mostly student housing. Groups of kids together sharing the rent and not too worried about the yards or the properties.

There was a holdout. I didn’t know him, never spoke to him. I would see him painting or working on his yard and always wondered what his story was. Did he raise a family in that home? Was he a veteran? Perhaps. A widower? Likely. When I saw Gran Torino I thought of him. Clint Eastwood’s portrayal of Walt Kowalski captured something true.

But time moves on. A few years ago it was clear he was gone. The grass grew tall, the bushes overgrew the railings, cans and trash dotted the yard. I bicycled past there yesterday. It’s just another rental house now. A row of beer bottles on the front porch railing from some back to school party. A gas grill on the porch. The paint is faded, the yard neglected, and no one who lives there would know what used to be.