FEMA has made an offer to purchase Elizabeth Miller’s house on Goosegreen Street in Petersburg. The two story wooden home with a tin roof hasn’t held up as good as Liz has over the century. She still washes her face with Noxzema and bathes in an old claw-foot bathtub inside the property that as of today may become property of the state of Pennsylvania.
Liz fears that if she accepts FEMA’s offer of nearly $100,000 for the place, she will die soon. Years of scrubbing the linoleum floor on her hands and knees has somehow transferred part of her soul into the very walls of the house where seven children were raised with not a spot of dirt behind their ears. She still hangs her clothes upstairs on the top porch. She does a load of laundry almost every day—just for something to do, and she irons all her clothes even though most items have a mix of polyester. She dumps far too much detergent into each load that is not really a load of clothes, but often a single item of clothing put on the short cycle which Liz knows with take out every damn spot.
So many of the people who were part of Liz’s generation have moved into the many mansions in heaven, but she stands firm on her own porch, still today, hoping that somehow she will not be forced to move away from the place where she and her husband Bill lived in paradise.
The house is in a flood zone, according to officials. If the river that runs adjacent to Liz’s property overflows and destroys her home as it almost did in 1972, the government will not give her a dime to rebuild, but today, despite what little time she probably has left to live, the federal government is throwing away almost a hundred grand to an old woman who wishes not to leave.
“They will take away my food stamp money, now that I have more than $2,000 in the bank,” Liz complains, but when she considers the issue more seriously, at least now, at least for a while, she’ll have all the money she needs to eat out at the Olive Garden, her favorite restaurant, next to Wendy’s and the baked potatoes sold there.
Elizabeth Miller will go live with her daughter Roxie, who’s husband, the late Chuck Pro is also in one of the many mansions above. Roxie will charge her rent; every little bit helps. Roxie lives just down the road and up a hill, but there is no place like your own, according to old Liz.
Liz and Bill bought the old place in 1963 when Bill still worked at the Fiberglass factory, when the credit union there gave them a loan. Bill was fired for missing too much work—he was so tired, always taking Liz out to the legion in Petersburg. Bill never worked again. Foodstamps for days. Never made another payment on that house. Things were different back then when one had seven kids—the credit unions didn’t foreclose—they simply left people alone to live in what was rightfully theirs.
The credit union is long gone, like the people in those many mansions in heaven, but Liz does not care. She’ll take the money, wash her face with globs and globs of white Noxzema, and eat at the Olive Garden until the messiah returns.