NOB HILL--A yard sale just down the street here on Tulane led me to one of the true legends of the neighborhood: the basement adobe stash of Don Eno. Even though I had witnessed parts of the story, I had never actually seen the cache in the cellar.
Several years ago, I saw a neighbor making adobes in his driveway. Everyday he worked his way along the house towards the street with a drying grid of mud blocks about 4 bricks wide. When he reached the sidewalk he stacked up the blocks against the house and started all over again. "Don," I asked, "what are you doing here?"
"I'm making a basement," he replied. "I always wanted a basement so I decided to dig one out." Now almost all the houses in this neighborhood have crawlspaces, but no basements. And I once saw a house where the owner had excavated a basement under an existing structure...unfortunately the floor had started to separate from the rest of the house and that led to him putting it on the market before it got any worse. I was, therefore, a little skeptical.
"But Don..." I began.
"Not only that," Don continued, "I'm using the dirt from the excavating to make adobes!" I'm going to use them in a wall later."
Well, the adobe part was certainly true...and they were good-looking adobes too...very uniform, solid, perfect...except for a few that his cats had crawled across.
"But Don, what about the house?"
"You should see the cool door pole I made for the cellar door. I threaded the rope through an eyebolt at the rear so the pole collapses up when the door is closed." Actually I was aware of Don's ingenuity, remembering the time he put 17 tiny speakers in the cab of his Ford pickup.
"Okay Don," I said.
I didn't get down to his place again for a couple of weeks. The driveway was clean. The adobes alongside the house were gone. Don and his truck were gone as well. He had gone to California to pan for gold on the American River.
What happened to the adobes? Why he stacked them in his new basement, of course.