THE LITTLE YELLOW HOUSE
I moved to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn in 1997. I ran nearly every morning, drawn in the direction of Pratt Institute. I would circle the campus and head home past the cutest little yellow wood frame house with a Mansard roof. This house had a hold on me and no run was complete till I gave it a nod on my way home.
Eventually I grew ready to leave my starter studio in Bed-Stuy – looking for a space with more light. In those days, pre-Craigslist, apartment searchers in the know would head to a news stand near Cooper Square to wait on the “Village Voice” line. It was the first stop the trucks made Tuesday nights, carrying the latest paper, which, at the time – was THE link to affordable apartments. I immediately searched the warm newspaper looking for my next studio. When I’d found what appeared to be a perfect listing, I raced across the street to a pay phone and made an appointment to see it. When I arrived, I was stunned to discover, the sweet, little yellow house. Its owner, Margaret Othrow, became my landlord, and now longtime mentor and friend – or as my family and I refer to her, our Fairy Godmother.
I’d always admired Marge’s intuition. Once, when my cat fell off the back roof, Marge meditated on my predicament and intuited that kitty was fine but scared and had an injury to her hip. It took me a couple of trips to the backyard to retrieve kitty and when I got her upstairs she did indeed have a limp. An x-ray later concluded kitty had suffered a contused hip.
I've spent years as a spiritual student, attracted to all things mystical, serendipitous and unexplained – years longing to make sense of myself and make peace with my own profound psychic experiences, like the one that brought me to Marge's doorstep. In 2013, I began my journey toward self, focusing on developing my psychic medium abilities. When I told Marge that I was going in this direction she gave me a pleasant shock. After she'd moved into the little yellow house in 1964, she befriended a Pratt painting professor, Walter Steinhilber. As a child, he had lived in Williamsburg and went to the Clinton Hill neighborhood to play, around 1914–15. He passed Marge's [then future] house often and would see on the porch a posted schedule for psychic readings by a resident Spiritualist. So potent was his memory that he memorialized it in a painting which he gave to Marge, and which Marge has given to me. Prior to Marge owning the house, the previous owner, was a 'fortune teller' who rented to Pratt students and who told Mrs. Carter, a neighbor who rents in Mrs. Ross's house next door, that God had told her: Move to California! So she put the house in the hands of a real estate dealer and that is how Marge came into ownership. A number of years back, Marge informed me of her intent to leave her house to me - thus carrying on the lineage of women psychic owners of the cutest little yellow wood frame house with the Mansard roof. Cue Twilight Zone music!