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It didn't have to happen

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15.06.2019

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Myrtle Avenue on either side of South Main in Albany is not known for expansive lawns. On my block, they're so steeply sloped that for years I mowed in softball cleats. So when the city of Albany came to the conclusion that the house two doors down was structurally terminal after years of neglect, they had to dump a ramp of dirt to allow the excavator to make the climb.

It was a thing to behold: The two-track beast would tear away a portion of the front of the house — first the porch, which had been replaced almost a decade ago after it had degraded to a dangerous sag — and then plant its claw deep in the wreckage and haul itself a few feet higher, like a mountaineer with a pickax. By the time it reached the summit, the house had been reduced to a cross-section: see the bedroom, see the attic, see the bathroom where for decades its former residents shaved and showered through the Depression, World War II, the entire life of Elvis Presley and the demise of Skylab.

Across the street, we watched it come down. Some of my neighbors — especially those who had the house in sight whenever they walked out the front door — were almost giddy at the prospect of the eyesore's removal. Others were angry that things had come to such a pass, the sheer waste of it.

For the nearly two decades that I've........

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