And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve read that line from Dr. Seuss’s book to my children, I’d probably be a millionaire. And if I had another buck for every time my kids read it back to me, I’d be a billionaire.

Alas, nobody gets paid for reading to their kids–and kids don’t get paid for reading books to their parents.

Our government hands out billions of dollars every year to defense contractors, and billions more to people who live here illegally, but somehow “Uncle Sam” can’t find the mere four bucks it would cost to buy my grade-schoolers new books.

There’s no street called “Mulberry” in my neighborhood, but there’s a house on a block near mine that goes by a similar name. The home is up for sale and–though I’m anxious to close my first deal–I wish I had never visited the property.

When I walked into the house, it seemed like a typical three-bedroom rambler. There was a comfortable if well-worn couch in the living room, a handsome table in the dining room and sunny yellow curtains in the kitchen.

There was a set of bunk beds in one of the bedrooms, and the lid on the toilet in the adjacent bathroom was up–a sure sign that at least one of the kids is a boy.

And then, I saw the den. I wish I could get that room out of my mind, but I can’t.

On one wall of the den, there was a rack with at least a half-dozen rifles and shotguns. A few more guns–I don’t know, but I think they were machine guns–wee mounted on the wall.

Directly across the room was a giant flag with a swastika on it. And next to that flag was a picture of Jesus that looked a lot like the rendering of Him that we had in the same tract house where I grew up.

The seller’s agent was very apologetic about the den. The seller is a collector of war memorabilia, the agent tried to explain, and has a particular fondness for World War II-era items.

I don’t believe that story for a minute. For starters, the wall that had the Nazi flag and portrait of Jesus looked more like a shrine than a display. And on a nearby shelf, there were several framed photographs of different people–some of them older, but others mere youngsters–shooting guns, brandishing huge knives and swigging from cans of beer.

I also saw a photo of three or four grown-ups wearing gas masks. One of them was holding something that looked like a hand-grenade.

If nothing else, I’m glad I toured that home on caravan day–the one day of the week when agents get to see newly listed properties without their prospective clients in tow. If I had had buyers with me, I don’t know what I might’ve said.

After I left the property, I called our local police station to report what I had just seen.

To be honest, I’m not sure calling the cops was the right thing to do. But the sight of all those guns, the big swastika flag, and pictures of youngsters holding rifles and beer cans made me scared for the kids who are growing up in that house and the safety of my family that lives a few blocks away.

I guess I shouldn’t have worried. The desk sergeant I talked to on the phone said a lot of people collect war memorabilia, including swastika flags and guns. He also lectured that parents are free to raise their children any way they want, even if loaded guns are involved.

The sergeant at least said he was seriously concerned about the pictures I’d seen of school-age children drinking beer. And he promised that if I wanted to “swear-out” a warrant, he’d personally see the complaint would be forwarded to the city attorney’s office for further investigation.

Further investigation? If one of the kids in that house accidentally blows his head off with an unlocked gun tomorrow or maybe shoots a sibling, will it really matter if he drank a can of beer first?

Guns, swastikas and beer. Oh, my!

I didn’t know some families live like that, especially in my own neighborhood.

And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street.


Got tips, ideas or advice for the Rookie Realtor? Send them to

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