Residents of St. Mildred's Court are a tight-knit group

August 11, 2003|EMILY TOADVINE

Next weekend, residents of St. Mildred's Court will show their enthusiasm for the historic neighborhood. They will gather for a picnic and a yard sale.

Sarah Marguerite Zachman will be at the picnic. It will be one of many events she has attended on the street where she grew up. After marrying in 1942, she moved into the house her parents built around 1918.

"Father gave me this house as a wedding gift. I love it and I don't want to live anywhere else," she says.

As the owner of Crescent Lumber Co., her father built many of the houses that occupy the street, she says.

Her many fond memories of life on the street include throwing a circus in the back yard when her daughter, Linda, was about 8 years old. This event occurred 50 years ago.


"All the little girls were taking dancing and they had their tutus and costumes. We spent a lot of time wrapping bikes in crepe paper. They rode their bicycles around the block to sell tickets for one penny."

The much-anticipated event was a huge success with children filling the yard. Even when tightrope walkers and trapeze artists were not involved, Zachman wanted the children to play at her house.

"I had the most wonderful time that summer I think I've ever had playing with the children."

Yard sale runs from 7 a.m. to noon

As the neighborhood prepares for its second annual yard sale and craft fair 7 a.m. to noon Saturday, one of the organizers, Barbara Reynierson, is hoping that many people will check out the street that meanders between Main Street and Lexington Avenue. Reynierson does not know what items she will offer for sale but her neighbors, Bob and Liz Orndorff think unusual items will abound.

"People like the sale on this street because there aren't too many clothes," Bob Orndorff says, noting that antiques and old tools usually can be found.

His wife recalls that sampling the cooking of Lee Ann Toy and her daughter, Kasey, was one of the highlights of last year's yard sale.

"They made chocolate chip cookies and sold them," Liz Orndorff says of the neighbors she has dubbed the garbage can brigade.

Later that weekend, the neighbors will enjoy a backyard picnic with each other. It will be a time for old friends such as Margie Beto, who has lived on the street more than 40 years, and Zachman to greet each other. It also will be an opportunity for relative newcomers - those who have lived there 10 years or less - to mingle.

Many of the neighbors may recognize 9-year-old Joe Weston, the son of Beau and Susan Weston. Susan Weston says the family decided to move to St. Mildred's Court in 1998 because they felt it was an old-fashioned neighborhood where their children would be safe.

"It's a place where the kids can run from yard to yard and I'm not wondering, 'What is happening?' I got to do that. They get to do that," says Weston, whose family also includes daughters Molly, 15, and Nora, 13.

An irresistable attraction to the street

The Orndorffs profess an irresistible attraction to the street as do many of their neighbors. Liz Orndorff suggested to her husband that they leave Lexington and return to his hometown.

'I said, 'This is such a neat town.' He said, 'I don't want to move to the town I grew up in.' But he said, 'There is one street I've always loved.'"

The Orndorffs, college professors in the communications and journalism field, landed in the home of former Advocate-Messenger editor, the late Enos Swain.

Reynierson, who has lived on the street 40 years, notes that St. Mildred's attracted it share of journalists. Reynierson moved into the former home of the late Chauncey Alcock, who was an editor at The Advocate.

The Orndorffs paid homage to their new neighborhood when they bought a dog for their first Christmas in their new home, 12 years ago. They christened the Bassett hound Millie.

"We were going to name her St. Mildred, but we thought it was a little pretentious," Bob Orndorff says.

Reynierson says the dogs on the street often bring the neighbors together.

"I think that's one thing. We get to talking to each other while walking our dogs," she says.

During their crossings, neighbors also may ask each other for a favor. Reynierson says she oversees one neighbor's garden.

"I go pick the vegetables and take care of it when they're gone," she says.

A strong love of gardening among her neighbors

Ann Silver found a strong love of gardening among her neighbors when she and her husband, Sheldon Tapley, moved to the street 17 years ago.

"When I first started putting in my flower bed, my neighbor saw I was interested and brought me plants," she says of the old-fashioned begonias Theresa Nichols gave her.

Like the Orndorffs, Silver says something about the street enticed her when they were trying to find a place to live after her husband accepted a position as an art professor at Centre College.

"When we drove into town the very first time 20 or 21 years ago, he drove me down this street and I knew that was where I wanted to live."

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