…in which I digress from my usual anonymity to honor this lady.
Mrs. Thal was one of the truly colorful, eccentric residents of Hudson in the '80s. Every town should have one. A first name with a dropped "a", like Barbra. Even before I met her, I knew her by sight, because I passed her on the street every day. She was always so BRIGHT and "matching". Everything matched: shoes, dress, purse, coat, and always a matching hat and gloves, winter or summer. If she wore blue that day, she REALLY wore blue! She loved color, and she had tons of clothes! Months would go by before you’d see her repeat an outfit.
There would be this tiny bright dot of an elderly woman, dressed stem to stern in matching colors, walking down the street. Weather never deterred her. In winter, she’d have her trusty ski pole to poke in the slushy snow as she walked. In summer, a parasol (well, okay, it was an umbrella, but on her it was a parasol). I never knew quite where she was headed, but she went there and back every single day.
She also wrote profuse letters to the editor of our local paper, and I do believe they printed every one. The Letters to the Editor column should’ve borne her byline. Seems Mrs. Thal had an opinion on everything, and insisted on sharing it. She also signed all her letters with her full name: Roslind Rita Thal. Like there could be two like her in a town this size.
She moved into the largest one-bedroom apartment I have ever had. And it wasn’t till some years later that I had occasion to see the extent of her wardrobe. Her huge bedroom, the hall to it, and the living room were all lined with clothes racks. She herself slept on a tiny sofa in the living room, because there wasn’t enough room for both her and her clothes in the bedroom.
After some years, Mrs. Thal passed away. Her nephew came to the office to take care of her belongings, and told me a few things about her. Apparently she was married and lived in New York City for a very long time. She was childless, but very devoted to her husband. He was killed in a mugging, so she decided to move to Hudson, where she had some family. A psychiatrist would probably say all those clothes made her feel safe and comfortable after losing her husband. Personally I feared for her in a fire, but actually she was pretty safe, sleeping only a few feet from the front door of a ground-floor apartment, especially since she didn’t smoke or drink. The nephew also told me she was a very interesting person, and I could read all about it in the newspaper, because he was going to write an article about her.
Since I’m still waiting to read that article, and googling her name turns up nothing, the mystery continues. But as I walk up and down the same street, now older myself and considered by some a bit eccentric, I often think of her.
Rest in peace, Mrs. Thal.