Rudy and Eleanor Mannarino were good friends of my parents, and in fact were the reason my parents moved to Overlea. In 1954 my parents were visiting them after they had moved away from Bayonne Avenue in the city where they lived as neighbors. During this visit my parents saw the house on Manor Avenue that was for sale and well, the rest they say, is history.
My sister bought our parent’s home on Manor Avenue in the early 90’s and that landed her and her family in Overlea just one street away from me on W. Elm. We were now only separated by a string of houses on one side of W. Elm and the back alley. In the middle of this separation was Rudy and Eleanor Mannarino’s house and yard.
On my sister’s moving day, her children, my children, and other assorted nieces and nephews helping, were quite excited with all the goings on, and the foot traffic generated between the two homes-and the Mannarino yard- was quite heavy, animated and continuous.
At the end of that day as I sat down to take a break on my front porch, I saw Rudy walking towards my house. As he climbed my front porch I wondered why he was coming over. He mounted the final step, he paused, caught his breath and steadied himself. Rudy, always quick and to the point, said this to me, “You all can walk through my yard, but stay on the sidewalk. I won’t have any grass left if this keeps up.”
All the kids and adults were quickly schooled on yard cut-through etiquette, and the grass was no longer walked on that day, or ever again, for that matter.
The next morning, Rudy painted reflective paint on every step edge in his unlit back yard.
Rudy passed away three years ago, and that silver paint has long since faded away. My sister and I still walk through his yard, where Eleanor can often be seen in her kitchen window or sitting on the porch. The kids that walk through there now are my grandchildren, and we still hear Rudy’s advice, “stay on the sidewalk.”
We hear you Rudy and we are still listening.