The very welcome first rain of the season, which came in the night before, had some members of the Piedmont Recreation Department’s Walking on Wednesdays group sheltering in place, but 17 rain fearless members of the group and two of their K-9 best friends were at the Exedra last Wednesday at the group’s regular time. The group walks rain or shine, but it turned out that any concerns about getting wet were unfounded. It was an overcast morning, but not a drop of rain fell on the walkers during this pre-Halloween walk. The group was anticipating the tour of the Mt. View cemetery which is scheduled for this Wednesday, October 27th, but there was Halloween fun to be had on this walk too.
One of the many things the walkers enjoy about Halloween is the creative decorations on homes. There are many of these dressed-up homes around Piedmont, but it was noted that a house at Hampton and Glen Alpine had some especially fun decorations. It was also recalled that there is a home on Lexford Road built in a storyteller architectural style that is really unusual, and it seemed appropriate to see at this time of year. Additionally, the group had not been to this part of Piedmont, a little further up Hampton Avenue, for a couple of years. So, the Lexford and Huntleigh Roads loop was selected as the destination for the day.
The walkers started off going to Hampton Park, as they often have, going up Highland Avenue; but instead of taking Sheridan and Wildwood Avenues, this time they decided to go up Lincoln Avenue, so that they could see the decorations on a home in the first block of Crocker. It was reported to have a large set of skeletons, skulls, demented babies, etc. in its front yard, and that’s what the walkers found. As they inspected the spirits, the homeowner came out to greet the group. He was already in a trick or treat mindset and told the group he didn’t have coffee ready for them. The group thanked him for the thought, and continued on to Hampton Avenue, passing more fun decorations along the way. At King Avenue, it almost looked like the Wildwood School Dad’s Club Pumpkin Patch had been moved to the front of a house there. There were pumpkins everywhere. Dick Carter offered to sell pumpkins to the walkers at half-price, but there were no takers. They weren't born yesterday.
At the intersection of Hampton and St. James the group marveled at the size of a set of eucalyptus trees, and then continued on up Hampton. They checked out a free library in front of one house, and admired a different, storybook style home on the right side of the street. The walkers got to the large home at Hampton and the foot of Glen Alpine, and two sets of animated characters that included Scooby-Doo and the Flintstones were moving and shaking to welcome them. These decorations seemed like they would be less scary for young trick or treaters, and the walkers liked them too.
The group continued on, past Hampton Field, across La Salle Avenue. They passed through the large, white columns marking the main entrance to the St. James Woods neighborhood that was developed in the early twentieth century. Its streets are still clearly defined by the brown terracotta tiles inlaid in the sidewalks.
The walkers went up Lexford to the large, storybook architectural style home in the middle of the block. It was obviously built early last century, and the group could envision Hansel and Gretel visiting this house. It is on a big lot with cobblestones arranged all around the front yard. The house’s exterior is made almost entirely of bricks and it has a slate roof. There is even a turret the middle of the house that gives it a castle fort look. A sign at the front door proclaims, “The Roster Crows, but the Hen Delivers.” The walkers didn’t know exactly what to make of that, but they were certainly impressed by the house. They also enjoyed the ghosts, skeletons, and other Halloween decorations all around the yard. The group decided to take the attached group picture there with a ghost hovering above them.
The walkers went around the back of the house on Huntleigh Road, and down it to get back to Hampton Road. As they walked down it, they saw two deer. These were real deer, not Halloween decorations. There were also lovely gardens with cedar trees, azalea bushes, and other pretty fall colors. At the top of street, just before the intersection with La Salle, a large set of skeletons, reclining garden chairs, watched the walkers go by.
The group intended to walk down La Salle and directly back to the Exedra via St. James Drive and Hampton Road, but they saw the La Salle Court cul-de-sac on their left. None of the walkers had ever visited it, and they couldn’t resist one more new street exploration. Up its fairly steep hill at its top is another large, impressive home, this one with a swimming pool in front. As the group started down the hill, they noticed a modern looking, abstract statue in a yard. It appears to be a man with broken chains in his outstretched hands. No one had an explanation for what this is supposed to be; so, as is their custom, the group felt they could make up their own explanation. They decided this was Marley's Ghost, Scrooge's former business partner in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Possibly he was getting a head start on the holidays along with his Halloween friends.
The group noticed a newly remodeled, modern home on St. James, and saw more decorations on the way back to Piedmont town center. They had had about a three mile walk, over an hour and forty-five minutes that was filled with Halloween decorations and unique homes; as well as completely dry Wednesday walking friends.