Monday, February 06, 2006

Where's Waldo?

Since I created this blog yesterday, 1,000's (okay 0,000's) of readers have asked what the title means. Where's Waldo? they wonder.

Basically, its a middle-class neighborhood in the middle of a city in middle America.

It lies in Kansas City, Mo. Home prices range from about $80,000 to $300,000. They were built in the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s. When the area was farmland, some of it was owned by Dr. Waldo. Hence the name.

To the north of Waldo is Brookside, an old neighborhood that has become trendy and expensive in recent years. Some people in Waldo have bumper stickers that say BKS, suggesting that they live in Brookside. They aren't fooling anyone. Anyway, Waldo is becoming pricey in its own right, and now there are WLD bumper stickers. Both neighborhoods apparently have something against vowels.

Waldo used to be on the southern edge of Kansas City. A trolley ran through the center of the neighborhood, taking people from their town to downtown Kansas City. The tracks were replaced by a walking trail. If it's a nice day and you're looking for someone, you'll probably find them here. Or at a nearby bar.

There are five old watering holes on Wornall Road, the main business strip in Waldo. Every year, a pub crawl visits these taverns, reducing the average age of the clientelle by about 30 years. Drive-thru fast food restaurants make it hard for locally-owned lunch places to stay in business on this strip. Pizza and barbeque joints, on the other hand, do quite well. The key is serving beer and advertising in church bulletins.

Other popular businesses on this strip are thrift stores, psychic readers, used car dealerships, pet daycares and spas, insurance offices, bakeries, barbershops and churches. Here and there, the sidewalks sparkle with broken glass or a grape soda can, but generally, it is a clean commercial area.

Waldo is not a city, but it has its own mayor. Whoever raises the most money for the Fountain Fund gets elected. Kansas City is the city of fountains, but money for one in Waldo hasn't exactly been pouring in. Brookside, by the way, does not have a fountain, either.

As far as schools, there are two Catholic, two Lutheran, one private alternative, and a few public.

It's a safe place, but lock your car doors. There are some sticky fingers in the neighborhood. A couple weeks ago, my neighbor caught a guy taking our spare tire out of our trunk. He said he had to borrow it because he had a flat. Needless to say, he hasn't brought it back. At least not yet.

So that is the physical description of Waldo. But there is so much more. Usually you grow up in a neighborhood and either make enough money to move away or don't make enough money stay. But here, the neighborhood is nice enough and affordable enough that a lot of people live blocks from where they grew up. I live across the street from the school I went to, for instance. This allows me to reminisce with my fellow school parents/alumni about the days when teachers dragged ornery children by their ears to the principal's office. Apparently the reasoning was, "What do they need ears for if they aren't going to listen anyway?"

Like everywhere, Waldo is a little fancier than it used to be. Whereas when I was growing up, it was not unusual for someone to have to run outside in his underwear in the middle of the night and put out a fire caused by a dragging muffler in his old car, nowadays, that would cause people to talk. Is business bad? Are they having money trouble? Can we call the city codes department on them?

But in general, people live and let live. They know that if they complain about the school bus parked in their neighbor's driveway, its only a matter of time before they get busted for their compost pile/snakepit in the backyard. And then where would the neighborhood children get their pets?

Waldo is a neighborhood, a business area, an up-and-coming entertainment destination and an attitude that my brother's friend describes the best: "A lot of places you go, people put on a show, but not in the 'Do."

No, his friend is not Dr. Suess.


Blogger Harvard Largenards said...

The Original Waldo Brookside Pub Crawl is back for it's 10th year. Saturday May 24th 2008! Corner Cocktails all the way to Charlie Hooper's. Noon!!!!

1:26 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home