The Blair House Apartments sounds like a fine place just on the merits of the name itself, doesn’t it? I can picture a block-long, three-story brownstone with nice stoops, black wrought iron railings and geraniums on each windowsill. Might be there’s some place exactly like that in Baltimore or Boston. The one in Blair, Kansas, which is where a bunch of folks from our church gathered last night to host a block party for the residents, is another matter.
Originally, the building was a right nice horse barn, about sixty feet wide and a hundred-and-twenty feet long with an arched roof. From what I’m told, stables lined both sides and housed the horse herd of Blair’s most successful businessman. Back in the early segment of the Twentieth Century, he owned the lumberyard, some apple orchards and the finest house in town.
He’d sure be aghast if he rose from the past and saw his barn now.
Many years ago, it was cut up into apartments, about eight or so on both the east and west sides. I don’t know if it was ever a really nice place to live; I’m quite sure it doesn’t meet the bill for that now. Some of us know what it’s like to have economics take priority over aesthetics when we rent an apartment.
It’s not exactly the most picturesque place for a block party and it wasn’t exactly the ideal evening for one, either. Late on Tuesday afternoon, the temperature nipped at the ninety-degree mark. Early on Wednesday evening, we were sliding down into the upper fifties. A right noticeable breeze was blowing out of the north so we set up on the south side. Since several of our church ladies had done all of the hard work of getting everything together, I figured I could show up and do the grilling.
I had lots of visitors at the grill, figuring at first they were coming by to admire from close range my burger-flippin’ dexterity and grand manner of melting cheese. Later, I realized they just liked the feel of hot coals on a chilly evening.
In spite of the weather, we had about thirty people show up, including some of the residents at the apartments. In spite of me putting the cheese on about fifteen minutes earlier than needed, they ate up all the burgers, even the ones with long strands of cheese hanging down like creepy yellow icicles. The kids ate like kids eat and then took off chasing each other through the ditches and puddles. The grown-ups sat around or stood around, talking, visiting and joking. No one thought to bring along any yard games but it didn’t seem to matter too much.
Everyone apparently brought along a good attitude, a healthy appetite and plenty of smiles. I think some got to know each other a bit better and a few residents at the Blair House Apartments found out that the folks at the new church over on the highway don’t think they’re too high-falootin’ to hang out with them for a while.
That might be a pretty good start and it sure seems to me to be a bit better than a pamphlet hanging on the doorknob.