My mother liked to have the house clean and tidy. During our adolescent years we weren't always happy about that but it was easier to live up to her standards knowing she wasn't like Mrs. Huffy who lived in town. Mrs. Huffy went overboard. We did not tell our mom what we knew about this woman but mother must have known because one day she talked about a lady who had died. It was a relative of Mrs. Huffy and she left nine children without a mother. Mrs. Huffy, who had no children, was being considered as a person to take the orphaned children. I was shocked when Mother said, "We must pray that someone else is chosen to raise those children. Mrs. Huffy would not be a patient step-mother." My sister and I asked no questions because we knew why mother made that statement.
Mrs. Huffy was always cleaning something and the rumor was she didn't allow anyone into her house for fear they would make it dirty. She and her husband, who was a trucker, lived on a corner lot in our small town. The young men hired to take some of her husband's loads liked to tell stories about her odd ways. They said she did not allow her husband to come into the house until he had changed into clean clothing in the garage. Then she would hurry out to the garage to get whatever he had taken off, put it into a basket to take to the laundry room. Soon she brought the empty basket back in the garage to scrub it out. We have never found it necessary to scrub the hampers or baskets that held our soiled laundry prior to washing the clothing.
Maybe some of the stories about her were exaggerated, but my sister, Margaret, and I witnessed her doing what we considered strange things. There was a sidewalk in front of the five houses on her block, the only cemented walkway going from what we called the church street to downtown. The church street ran in front of the Catholic church, the rectory, the convent and the school. The street past Mrs. Huffy's home led to the business part of town - the lumber yard, the barber shop/city hall, the grocery store and ended at the post office with the gas station across from it. The streets were not paved and so when we made our daily trek to get our pastor's mail and half a dozen bottles of milk for the Sisters, we used those two sidewalks. As soon as we walked past, she would come out and sweep where we had walked. She did the same thing when we returned with the mail and the milk. She swept behind us. There were tiny air-pocket holes in the cement and when we were still too young to know better, we thought she had worn them there with her broom. If our boots were wet or muddy, we walked on the grass until we got beyond the sidewalk she watched so carefully.
She took extra special care of her car, too. It wasn't unusual to see it stopped on the side of the highway with Mrs. Huffy, rag in hand, wiping away dust or bugs or something that had dirtied her vehicle before she got to her destination. They moved to a larger town when her husband quit the trucking business and lived alongside the nursing home. They had no sidewalk out front and since they didn't have company, I doubt anyone used the sidewalk leading to the garage driveway. She could spend her old age doing something other than sweeping outdoors.
Her new neighbors were not happy with her because she had upped her ways of keeping her home clean. She no long allowed Mr. Huffy to use the facilities in their home so whenever he wanted to use the rest room, he visited the nursing home. Maybe we would have been more understanding and tolerant of her actions if we had known there was a sickness known as compulsive-obsessive behavior.
She died many years ago but I have often wondered who raised those orphaned children. All we knew for sure about them was they were not placed with Mrs. Huffy in her super-clean house.