The Witch on Broadview Boulevard

We used to see her when riding our bikes or running around the neighborhood. She was small, and looked even smaller walking over with a stoop but no limp. She wore eccentric clothes of many colors that sometimes coordinated by accident but often clashed. The lasting image I have in my mind is one of her wearing a long dark overcoat with a bright purple pointed stocking cap, red socks and pointy shoes. Maybe it was the shoes.

My grade school friends and I, roaming the neighborhood on our bikes or by foot, were afraid of her and called her the witch.

She lived all alone in a large English Tudor home on Broadview Boulevard and no one seemed to know her. We only saw her when she was out walking, where ever it was she went. Someone said her entire house was filled with wall-to-wall toys on every surface area. Maybe it was someone who had braved her doorbell selling Girl Scout cookies or perhaps a curious neighbor.

I wonder who she was.

One time I had no choice but to pass her on the sidewalk and I remember she smiled.

She might  have been eccentric. Maybe she even had a screw or two loose. But she wasn’t a witch.

It was cruel of us to think that she was.

She might have been lonely rattling around in a much-too-large house all alone, remembering times when childrens’ voices echoed off the walls.

She might have been content, happy to live life alone on her own terms.

Maybe she had a fascinating and interesting life. Perhaps it was rather dull and noneventful.

I’ll never know.

26 thoughts on “The Witch on Broadview Boulevard”

  1. I always wonder about the many people I encounter in my life, and I often (still) make up stories about people I see or briefly meet. People like “the witch” offer so many questions and like you I often wish I’d delved more…it’s would be so interesting to know how urban legends like the toys covering the floor get started! (p.s. Now I’m wondering what the children in our neighborhood think about me…)

    1. You’re making me laugh. I actually had the same thought and it made me feel better. I think if the kids in the neighborhood thought me a bit weird, I probably wouldn’t care in the least.

      Make sure you don’t miss Dawn’s comment here.

  2. Funny how growing up gives us perspective on some of the people who colored our childhoods and fueled our young imaginations. It’s impossible not to have regrets about some of them. Your ‘witch’ sounds fascinating.

  3. Good morning Christine, your post has possibly solved a riddlle. There is a large stucco house on Broadview that has a unique weather vane, it is witch. Now I am wondering if that was her home, and is it possible that that you weren’t alone in your childhood assesment? Maybe the home was purchased after she was gone and some other child who had grown to be an adult purchased it and placed the vane in her memory. Whenever someone refers to the ‘witches house’ in the neighborhood they are referring to that one because of the weather vane,where she sits high above the roof, riding the wind on her broom in all directions. You will have to drive through the neighborhood and take a peek. Love, Dawn

    1. Is it on the left as you go up from your street, in about the middle of the block?
      Oh my goodness. Maybe it was always there, and that’s why we called it the witches house and her the witch that lived there.

      Marty McDonough or David Evers might know. They’re both on Facebook.

      Thanks for making a comment here, Dawn.

  4. I’d love to now know the real stories of the eccentric people of my childhood; bet the stories are no where near the ones I made up in my head!

    1. I know. Too bad we don’t get curious enough at the right time when we stand a chance of finding out. I’ve played with the idea of searching land records for ownership titles to find out her name and then google it, or search local newspaper stories.

      I’ll add it to my ideas trove.

  5. There was a stained glass window on her front door. Mike C. and I went up on her porch once and it had a wolf’s head in it (werewolf of course). Still would like to go back and take a closer look……you game?

  6. What’s great about this, is that as adults we in fact have an opportunity to undo the past. It’s so easy to make assumptions like that around someone, when a smile and kind gesture can make friends of someone we never would have known otherwise.

    And you know what? I bet you have stories like that too, where as an adult you befriended someone that no one else would talk to. Actually, you do have stories like that, where people befriended Annie despite her limitations.

    I love the photos of her – wow, what a smile.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Sorry I haven’t been around much this week. Been occupied with a large editing project I was helping someone with on a deadline. I’m looking forward to catching back up on everyone’s posts.

  7. Don’t you wish you’d have learned more about her? I HATE those missed opportunities that really are within our control (if we only have the foresight to know it when it’s happening). I had a similar experience with an old man when I had just finished college … We lived at the same apartment complex, and he was clearly lonely and wanting to talk, so we chatted for a while, overlooking a lovely pond at the apartment grounds. When he told me he was on the Titanic, I shied away – basically ignoring him because of my own ignorance. At the time, I thought everyone on the Titanic died, so I didn’t ask any more questions (instead, I wondered if he had dementia). I remember stopping in the parking lot as I headed back to my apartment, looking back at him, and NEARLY walking back to ask him more about it… BUT I DIDN’T. Ugh!!! I will never know… all because of my own insecurity (and lack of historic knowledge at the time).

    There is another eccentric woman who walks the streets of a nearby town in a southern belle costume and with a parasol (even in 100 degree desert heat). I just told my husband this weekend that I HAVE to learn more about her, find her, talk to her, take her to lunch… Just because … Because what fascinating characters these real-life people are, and can become in our fiction!

    1. Well, he may have, or may not have been on the Titanic. If you know his name I suppose you could easily find out. We were young. That’s what growing older and getting life experience is all about. I’m positive you would not dismiss someone like that today.

      I hope you will let us know what you find out about the belle of Arizona. (It is Arizona, isn’t it?)

  8. What sparked this memory after so many years?

    Even people we know “well” come and go from our lives ~ life is a constant ebb and flow. If we are living “full lives” there is no reason to get caught up in regret about people we didn’t meet . . . books we didn’t read . . . conversations we didn’t have . . . foods we didn’t taste . . . movies we didn’t watch . . . or places we didn’t see.

    It’s a HUGE world . . . we can only sample a tiny bit of it. 😀

    1. I have no idea. I woke up with it in my head. I may have been thinking about wearing whatever I want. I may have actually been thinking about my dad’s story first and that led to her. I always thought I would be like her as I aged – wear whatever I fell like.

      I do that pretty much now, I just filter what I buy. So my options are not eccentric. I suppose I could still mix things up. But what’s the point if it’s just to make a point?

      What I need to do is buy whatever I want and then wear it.

  9. I see many “eccentrics” who I wonder about. I like to know about peoples’ lives. My mother used to tell us wild stories about an old woman who lived next door to her and she swore she was a witch. If the stories were true I’d believe her, but they were probably mostly the active imagination of a kid who carried the memories into adulthood half believing them.

    Journaling Woman at my memoir blog
    starting Saturday 12/17/2011 with a special giveaway!
    Wrote By Rote

    1. The eccentrics do make you wonder, don’t they. I think it is possible many suffer from some kind of mental illness, but then we have to ask ourselves, who are we to determine what mental illness actually is? Mental illness is often defined by deviation from some sort of behavior standard that was set. Who set the standard?

      She might have been a witch. But probably not one who flew on a broomstick.

  10. I think that’s me, in the future. I already dress in eccentric ways. The neighbors already think I’m weird, walking around with a camera in all kinds of weather. 😉

    1. Yeah, but don’t give up your colorful socks and interesting shoes, whatever you do.

      I love to see eccentric people and am often bored by my own lack of creative dressing.


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