I’m back where it all started; the evil banks. No, I’m not on Wall Street, staring up at Goldman Sachs, who also is an evil bank.
I’m at the corner of 18th & Underwood staring at my Dad’s evil banks. Back in the “allowance” days, these banks played a big part in my weekly $1.00 earnings. At the time I wasn’t aware of banks that had deposits, savings, withdrawals, or the ability to bring down the world’s economy with greedy worthless derivatives. No, the only banks I knew were the ones that needed cutting all summer.
This entire neighborhood is built on banks. Almost every house has banks, like they were scared of a giant flood 100 years ago when they built them. Probably the reason, but not good enough anymore when it comes to cutting the grass on those crazy things.
If I wanted to earn my allowance I had to cut the yard which included those damn banks. They had to be cut a certain way.(Dad’s way) If I pushed the mower over the top straight for the bottom, the angle of the banks were such that the mower would eat a big chunk of turf right at the top ridge. That was a guarantee of no allowance and a stern tongue lashing.
So, cutting the banks required strength and patience. I would walk along the top, holding the mower parallel to the banks and shove it at that right angle the entire length. Then, from down on the sidewalk, it would require about four swipes with the mower sideways as I walked along the sidewalk. It was wise to always start with the hardest angle, which was as far up the hill as possible because by the 3rd swipe the muscles were screaming, “Stop.”
Back in the 50s, there was a big marketing push for Zoysia grass. They are still selling it in seed and plug form today, but back then it was only available in plug form. This grass was of Asian variety and my father read the words, “some Zoysiagrass has been known to grow as far north as Chicago.” I don’t think Dad thought about the odds and since we were over 100 miles south of Chicago, he ordered hundreds of plugs. It was around 1952 and for most of the 50s, one little area in the back yard started to take off. Most other people in this area of Indiana who tried Zoysia lost their money. But, there was Dad’s Zoysiagrass in a little 3 foot patch he was so proud of. About 3 years later, it started to spread like wildfire. It now covers every inch of the yard plus two neighbors who didn’t really want Zoysiagrass. It grows horizontal, kills weeds, flowers and anything in its way. It’s a beautiful emerald green, drought resistant grass but at the first frost it goes dormant and turns a ghastly golden wheat color. Every winter, people would view the yard and offer condolences on the dead grass. Now, in May, the Zoysia is starting to turn green
Today, I watched as Mom’s gardener was walking along the sidewalk, holding the mower at a steep angle to the right and pushing as hard as possible to get the mower through the tangle of Zoysia. I didn’t feel a bit guilty for just watching either.