Gated district


We’ve finally made it. The Wife and me, we now live in a gated community with not one, but two guards. Positioned on either side, they issue orders to either open or close the gates. All who wish to enter or leave must, of course, obey their commands.

Once inside, if you dare to leave without permission or proper notification, then not one, but two different alarms will sound. And trust me, those alarms are extremely loud and impossible to ignore.

So how did we get to be among the wealthiest folks in town seemingly overnight? Did we win the lottery? Well, the answers to those questions are at the end of this story. Here’s the beginning.

The richest family we knew while growing up during those seven years at 110 Flamingo Street didn’t actually live on Flamingo Street. Preston Weston III and his family lived one street over on the Duke of Gloucester. After all, that’s where all the rich kids lived, and Preston was the richest. They also lived behind one of the largest iron gates I’d ever seen.

Huge brick columns flanked Preston’s driveway, and attached to them were massive, wrought iron gates. A three-foot golden lion adorned each side of the gates with one front paw resting on a ball and the other raised with claws outstretched. From looking at their sneers, you’d think the mighty lions would leap right off the gates and attack any unknowing passersby, instantly tearing them to shreds.

When closed, the gates were indeed impassable, and the large spikes on top defied anyone to scale them. That’s why, when we visited Preston, we simply went around them. With no fence encircling the property, the gates blocked only the driveway. You see, as mighty as they were, the gates were just for show. The Duke had several other homes with gates in front of them, but Preston’s was by far the biggest.

On Flamingo Street, there was only one house with a gate across the driveway. This house also had a fence around the entire property. Inside lived my arch-enemy, Down the Street Bully Brad. Most homeowners have fences to keep animals in and bad guys out. In the case of Bully Brad, his fence did neither. I guess the gate at his house was just for show also.

Things certainly have changed since the time we spent growing up on Flamingo Street, but some things have actually stayed the same. Last weekend The Wife and I drove around our fair country and were simply amazed at the number of gated communities we saw. Funny, each fenced-in subdivision we passed had welcome signs out front and massive gates wide open, but not one had three-foot golden lions.

Just like back on the Duke, it seemed like all those gated communities are just for show, after all. And this brings us back to our little gated community.

Now to say our gated community is just for show wouldn’t be accurate. Our gates are normally closed to keep folks in. And to say it’s secluded would be an understatement. In fact, from the road, the three gates aren’t even visible, but from our kitchen, they’re easily seen. Child gates separate the kitchen, dining room, and basement hallway from the rest of our house and convert the living space into one big play area.

Even though they can easily jump over, why should our two guard cats expend that much energy? Instead, they sit or lie patiently on either side until their unspoken commands are obeyed and the gates are finally opened.

Dual alarms are set off in our gated community each time one of the adults leaves without permission. Extremely vocal, Little One and her sister Sweet Caroline make it known that no one is supposed to leave their play space while they’re awake – especially our meow meows. That’s the name Little One has given to our two cats.

Yep, The Wife and me, we now live in a very secluded, gated community — one that is fully equipped with twin guards and dual exit alarms in the form of our darling granddaughters.

Because of them, we’ve become some of the wealthiest folks in town.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, served as a firefighter for more than two decades and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His books are available at]