The Debts of Lodge 49

The first season of Lodge 49 ended a few weeks ago (along with the latest season of Better Call Saul, I’ll write about that later). I waited to write because this piece contains a mild spoiler.

Lodge 49 is … well, it’s hard to categorize. It’s gentle, a bit melancholy, smart, sometimes very funny, very well acted and pretty much a ten-episode shaggy dog story.

There are great characters who are very real people, it occurs in Long Beach, California which is an excellent stand-in for so many things about 2018 it would be impossible to list, there’s a mystery out there somewhere, there’s some intriguing as yet undisclosed mysticism swirling around everything and everyone.

So, yeah, I liked it. I was so engrossed in it I didn’t realize until forty-five minutes or so into the last show – and I did so with a real jolt – that the entire show was about . . . debt.

The debt of the middle class in 2018, with Long Beach still feeling the effects of the Recession.

I was jolted because looking back I saw it was there all along. I’ll bet ten minutes doesn’t go by – per episode – without someone talking about debt – their own, someone else’s, the Lodge’s (it is, after all, a building with a mortgage).

Debt is everywhere and when people aren’t talking about it there are signs in the background blaring it. Foreclosure signs on boarded up buildings, empty condos, ReFi billboards, more, everywhere.

A main character is a pawn broker. The pawn broker isn’t nasty, makes almost fair offers on property, seems to have a sense of humor, is a rock-solid businessman.  He also makes payday loan, title loans, and personal loans with interest rates around the thirty-percent mark. He also tells every ‘client’ exactly how stupid they are for taking whatever loan he’s offering before they put pen to paper.

The protagonist, Dud (yes, no ‘e’) is into him for big bucks and his car. Dud’s father owned a pool servicing company, went out to surf one afternoon and never came back. The business had loans far in excess of its value. Their house was foreclosed on and auctioned off.

Dud’s twin sister Liz owes the bank $80,000 – she co-signed a business note for her father. She’s obsessive about paying it down, makes every payment on time even though it stretches her budget to the breaking point, has been paying for over a year when she is shocked to find she has only been covering the interest.

Ernie works for a company that can’t pay commissions until it gets advances, he’s into the pawn broker. The lodge itself is being foreclosed on. The mysterious rich guy who pops into Dud and Ernie’s lives (a great Bruce Campbell) is dependent of leveraging – he borrows to invest. The people who bought Dud and Liz’ childhood home at action are clearly underwater, all the land in town is about to be declared toxic, they’ll never resell.

Debt, debt, everywhere. It’s not oppressive, it certainly doesn’t put a damper on the show, but it is always there, like another character.

No one does anything about their debt, except add on more in the hope of getting by long enough to do . . . something that will maybe fix it, . . . until the very end, the tenth episode/season finale (that raised more questions than it answered but made me want more).

That debt finale: Liz walks into her bank to talk to about her loan. The ever helpful, ever cheerful, manager says “The outstanding balance is eighty-thousand, five hundred and thirteen dollars.” Liz answers, “That is outstanding,” – a line I am sure I will use one of these days.

Liz then explains that she ‘really doesn’t have a place in her life’ for the debt anymore. She slams her entire life’s savings on the table, eighteen thousand dollars or so and explains – I won’t get into the specifics because those are spoilers (I think) – this is all you’re ever going to get from me.

The shot of Liz back in her car with her ‘account closed/paid off’ paperwork is outstanding.

It, of course, doesn’t really happen that way but it’s not a bad representation of what can happen if a debt is approached correctly, (check out my book for more on this). The end result, have the debt go away, that’s just priceless. Liz’ relief is palpable and absolutely spot on.

You’re not a character in a prestige series TV show, you don’t have to live with debt.

Surviving Debt: Expert Advice

Some people just like self-help books. Some people (like someone I am related to) always have one open on their nightstand and seem to have read them all. I’ve only recently gotten into them and that is to supplement the in-person help I have been getting (specifically, on managing my business).

If you’re a self-help person, you have to check out Surviving Debt: Expert Advice for Getting Out of Financial Trouble, published by the National Consumer Law Center, now in its 11th edition. It covers almost every personal financial issue you can think of, and is only $20. CLICK HERE to purchase (I get no benefit from this other than to share with you a really valuable resource)

You can even get free content from the book by clicking here. 

Let’s say you had a car repossessed a few years ago, and you can’t figure out how to pay off the debt resulted from that. Or you want to know which of your accounts to pay first. Surviving Debt has a chapter for that. If you’re the type of person who can read instructions and advice and follow through, then the price tag on this book is more than worth it. Maybe you’re shy about talking to someone about your finances, or want to know if you really are as bad off as you think you are (if I had a nickel for everyone who was afraid to pull their credit reports!), try Surviving Debt first. Then let me know if it was helpful, and which sections were the most relevant to you. You may need some follow up help, or have questions about your options. After all, this kind of book doesn’t (and can’t) provide you advice specific to where you live as each state is different in how debt is pursued and your options are different depending on which creditor you are dealing with, whether you have been sued on the account or whether it is in collection or not. Foreclosures especially are different in every state, so maybe after reading about your particular problem you will feel better prepared to ask questions and start tackling your situation with a live professional.

This book, and the chance to read parts of it for no charge, was too good an opportunity not to share with you. Again, I get no proceeds from the sale of the book (I don’t even keep the proceeds from the sales of my own book!), I just wanted to make sure you knew about it, especially as many of you are looking forward to a new year soon and in my experience, most people have something money-related on their New Year’s resolution list.

I Call BS . . . (on everyone, myself very much included)

“I call BS”

The students of the high school in Florida who suffered that mass school shooting earlier this year adopted the battle cry “I call BS” in the face of politicians’ empty promises to stop gun violence and to stop taking money from the gun industry.  If anyone dared tell the students they would work to make a difference and acted in a way that said they did not intend to, they called out the BS.

Good for them.  Because we are too nice and we don’t call out each other’s BS enough.  And because of that many of us never get out of our own way.

We all do it—we all have some BS we are hiding behind.

“I want to lose weight.”

“I know I should exercise more.”

“I have no money.”

All true statements for many of us.

But I call BS.

If you want something, work for it. If you know exercising is good for you and you don’t do it, then start.  You say you have no money, but do you really keep track of what you spend your money on?

I don’t call you out on enough of your BS.  I hear you say you want things but you don’t do what you have to do to have those things.  Please just be honest about WHAT YOU WANT MORE than the things you say you want.

If you want to lose weight, but you love chocolate chip cookies, and you keep eating the chocolate chip cookies, then you want the cookies more than you want to lose weight.  So don’t BS me about wanting to lose weight.

If you know you should exercise more but go home at night, eat dinner and then flop down on the couch and turn on the TV, then you want to watch TV more than you want to exercise.  So don’t BS me about not having the time or not being “able” to exercise.

You say you have no money but you stop to buy a coffee every day and buy your lunch at work and go shopping for clothes a couple of times per month or lend friends and family members the money you do have.  So don’t tell me you don’t have money—that stuff adds up.

I sound really harsh here because I have been spouting my own BS for a couple of years—I say that I want to help more and more people and have a large law firm but I haven’t done the work it takes to get more clients.  I’ve been BS-ing myself, my husband, my staff and even the homeowners out there who can’t find their way to me because I haven’t done what I need to do for them to know I’m right here, ready and able to help.

That BS stops now.  No more pretending to want something but then not taking the steps to have what I want.  No more saying one thing and doing another.  I invite you to call me out if you hear BS from me.

You ready to join me in a BS-free life?

Living Her Dream

Quite often I find myself in conversations with people who say things like, “When __ happens, then I will do ___.”  For example, “When I retire, then I will play more golf,” or “When I earn more money, then I will take a vacation,” or “When I have more time, then I will volunteer.”  I have a few of those on my list too.

I have a friend, well actually someone I would feel lucky if she called me a friend, whom I met many years ago at a networking event and we have seen each other at various events and meetings over the years.  I knew that she spoke some French and German and did things like organized get-togethers for French-speakers and German-speakers, and that she played piano and organ.  She is also a real estate agent and that is how I met her.  But unlike all the other small business owners I have met over the years, she isn’t waiting until her business “takes off,” or until she makes a certain amount of money, to do the things she enjoys and that would make her life and the lives of others better.  As small as it seems to get a bunch of people together to practice speaking French once per month, she takes the time to do it.  She doesn’t see it as taking time away from working and making money and therefore something she shouldn’t do or can’t do or that she should wait to do.  It’s important to her, it’s important to others, and it’s something she isn’t waiting to do.

I learned recently that she has added yet another interesting and generous activity to her weekly routine—she plays the piano and organizes a choir for people who get lunch at a particular soup kitchen in Hartford.  The meal is served at noon, she arrives at 11 and anyone else who is there who wants to sing can join the group.  The first week, back in May, there were apparently only about four reluctant participants.  But as the weeks passed, and she continued to appear and warm up the piano, more and more people have been joining.  One week there were over 20 singers!  They also recently sang in State House Square and Kathleen Malloy, the governor’s wife, joined them.  After each session now, the singers tell her how much they enjoy the choir, how it makes them feel good and especially after meeting Mrs. Malloy, how they actually feel like someone, for the first time in their lives.

What is also interesting about this is she had no idea what the result would be, how the option of singing for a little while before eating lunch would affect the patrons of the soup kitchen, how it would change their lives or hers.  But she did it anyways.  She stepped into the unknown and just went with it.

Just an hour per week, and she is making such an impact.  Without concern that she could be out showing a house to a client, and maybe making a little more money if she worked instead of volunteered.  She isn’t waiting to live her dream, she is doing it now.

If only all of us took an hour per week to do what makes us each feel happy, something we know is doing good for ourselves and others, what would our communities look like?  How much better would our little world be?

I’m sharing this, instead of my usual stuff about foreclosure and mortgages and the headaches of being in debt because I hope highlighting what my friend is doing will inspire you to not wait to do the things you want to do until ___ happens.

Let me know what you think, let me know if you are already living your dream, or what you plan to do instead of waiting for the right moment, the right amount of time or having enough money.

Foreseeing Effects

First semester of law school everyone takes Torts. It’s an interesting course, rarely boring as you’re reading about some pretty gruesome medical malpractices, product liabilities, personal injuries.

An important concept in tort law is ‘reasonable foreseeability.’ Basically -very basically – it boils down to ‘was it reasonably foreseeable that not having your two-ton truck’s squealing, grinding breaks fixed might eventually result in losing them coming down a steep hill and getting into an accident?

I thought of this earlier this week when I noticed a comment on the Facebook page. We had posted a whiteboard cartoon explaining the crumbling foundation crisis in Eastern Connecticut. The caption mentioned that HUD Secretary Ben Carson had just toured a home with a crumbling foundation and had promised some federal relief. The comment was brief and to the point: ‘Another thing to bail out, I’m sick of this state.’

I get this viewpoint, I really do – I pay taxes in Connecticut, too. And, I wish it were that simple. But, of course, it is not. Because while this crisis – and it is a crisis – snuck up on us over more than a decade, it’s effects – from here on – are most certainly foreseeable.

First, 34,000 homes in 41 towns in Eastern Connecticut may be affected. Homeowners insurance will not cover the condition, banks and mortgage companies have no solutions, the costs of repairs – if at all feasible – are usually prohibitive. Government resources and funds are needed.

To take a complicated situation and greatly simplify, it goes like this -dozens of homes in a small town have crumbling basements:

Instantly they lose whatever equity the homeowners have built up over the years;

The homeowners cannot, obviously, refinance or obtain a home equity loan to fix the problem – if it is fixable;

The house cannot be sold;

The tax assessment by the town drops like a rock;

The more houses – and, remember, there are 34,000 homes that may have this problem – a town has with the problem, the more it’s tax base drops;

The more the town’s tax base drops, the more cutbacks to services, the more cutbacks to schools;

Cutbacks in services and schools inevitably mean lower rankings for livability and schools;

The lower the rankings, especially for schools, the lower the desirability for new homebuyers;

The fewer new home buyers, the lower the assessments;

And we start all over again;

Except, by now, since this effects 41 towns, the consequences are seen on a statewide basis, as about one-third of the state can no longer contribute much to Connecticut’s already hurting economy.

If we don’t come up with solutions to this problem – wide ranging, creative solutions – the effects are all too foreseeable and they will be felt by everyone.

The Politics of Debt

Last month we posted an article on Facebook about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The article, I think it was from the Washington Post, was a simple, concise recitation of the many hurdles the CFPB has been facing over the last year or so. It talked about their actions against Wells Fargo and the fact they have not pursued a single matter in the the last year. Moribund under it’s new director, was how the article put it, I think.

It was a straightforward article, it reported that the CFPB wasn’t working and speculated on whether or not it had a future.

We posted it with a heading wondering about the future of CFPB an the effect that could have on clients and law firms that do what I do. Short and sweet, the caption on that came with the link said it all, or so I thought. I should note that we’ve posted about the CFPB in the past and always received thoughtful, insightful comments.

As we began to with this post. Then, it was shared.by at least 6 of our followers (thank you!). Then some of the people it was shared to shared it as well. Which was all great … until about three days in.

That’s when we started getting vile comments. Really nasty stuff. For a while we erased the offensive comments and banned their ‘authors’ from the page. But, it got to be too much and we had to drop the post from Facebook. That’s why we can’t show an image of it here.

The comments, some remarkably, if not terribly creatively profane, revolved around the very invocation of Elizabeth Warren’s name, though a few went deeper into the ‘libtards’ plot to destroy banking and Wall Street.

Here’s the thing: before we erased, blocked, and banned we checked out each offender’s home Facebook page. It’s stunning, by the way, how many people ignore Facebook’s privacy settings and leave everything out there for anyone.

There was not a banker, broker, arbitrager, Axe Capital employee, investment banker, mortgage company exec, wolf of wall street, master of the universe, or even one of their lawyers in the lot of them. They were all regular people – a few retired state employees, a couple of people on disability, a mechanic, a teacher, and the like. They had very little in common other than having time to comment on a Facebook post from a law firm in Connecticut and despising, violently, the CFPB.

Okay, they had one more thing in common – they were the exact same demographic that Wells Fargo targeted in their schemes over the last few years. The schemes the CFPB identified, punished, shut down.

Here’s another thing: I deal in debt and foreclosure every day and I can attest to the fact that debt – personal debt – has nothing to do with anyone’s political affiliation. it has a lot to do with sudden unemployment, unforeseen death, divorce, illness, and a dozen other out-of-the-blue-soul-and-financial-crushing events very few people have  a (or can) plan for.

Politicians and lobbyists can divide along ideological lines and fight things like the CFPB out in Congress and in the airwaves of public opinion. But when someone, a regular someone, is blindsided by, well, life, and is facing losing their home (and more), there are no ideological lines.

There’s just trying to fix it.

Black Mirror, China, and Moving On

This piece is the result of a perfect confluence of a couple of scattered news articles that flitted across my news feed over the last week and a 12:30 am TV commercial.

First, the commercial: two friends hanging out when one gets a text, YOUR CREDIT SCORE HAS CHANGED! “Whoa,” the other friend exclaims, ‘why’d you get that?” “I get instant updates on all my credit reports,” replies the other, “don’t you know credit scores can change anytime?”

No, the friend didn’t know that, but he’s filled in now, credit scores can change any time, who wouldn’t want to be on top of it? It’s implied, not very subtly, that it’s the height of irresponsibility not to track one’s credit score 24/7.  Luckily, XYZ company is there for you and, get this, it’s free to start!

The news items were about China – they are expanding their efforts to bring their brand of capitalism to the world and they have begun to institute a system of ‘social credit’ scores for their citizens, a program that has just started but is slated for a nationwide roll-out in 2020.

‘Social credit.’ I first became aware of the concept like a lot of people did, through the Netflix and BBC show, Black Mirror.  The first episode of the third season, Nose Dive, was about a not so distant future where every one of our social interactions, from buying a coffee at Starbucks, to standing in line in an airport, to who you interact with in the office, are rated on a 1 to 5 scale. Your place in society is determined by your average score, the higher the average the better the car you can lease, community you can live in, job you can apply for.

It’s scary in that ‘it can easily happen’ sort of way that China seems ready to turn into reality. The whole, ‘let’s grade everyone on everything they do’ motif feeds into a ‘let me see what I’m rated today’ that can quite easily become an obsession that just gets in the way of, well, life.

But, that’s not why I’m writing about this today. What all this did was remind me, vividly, of a constant theme of this blog and my book, the effect shame and embarrassment have on potential clients. We have long been conditioned to consider a dropping credit rating, an unpaid bill, a certified letter or 1-800 call, a law suit, a foreclosure, anything about money that negatively reflects on us, mortifying.

And, indeed, there is a public shaming element to ‘social credit’, it’s implicit. But, we’re not there yet and hopefully never will be. In the meantime, despite this, I am constantly explaining to new clients that what they are going through has, indeed, happened to other people, often. That it’s not a matter of being embarrassed or shamed, it’s a matter of just taking care of the issue in the best possible way and moving on with one’s life.

No one who matters is judging you, credit scores can be repaired, the banks, lawyers, court clerks, judges, and collection companies are all on to the next case, there are no institutional memories.

Embarrassment and shame and a dozen other emotions serve only one purpose – they inhibit people from seeking help at the time professional help is most effective. This goes for foreclosure defense as well as family law issues and dealing with the IRS and a host of other matters.

Good lawyers have seen everything in their area of practice, they deal with everything, they will not judge. Most of all, they won’t be rating you on or off social media.

3:59.4

Sir Roger Bannister, 88, died last week. The man who broke the four minute mile in 1954. Accolades have been flowing around the world, a familiar story told and retold: a sub 4-minute mile was impossible; doctors and sports trainers believed breaking the 4-minute barrier would kill the runner; Bannister, a great cross-country runner, refused to listen to any of it and simply ran his guts out one cool, overcast day and proved all of them wrong.

Good story, but not really true and, as these things usually go, not as good as the real story. One of the best articles I’ve read over the last week or so was by Malcolm Gladwell, The Ordinary Greatness of Roger Bannister. 

Ordinary Greatness. You see, Roger Bannister was not an elite runner when he did the ‘impossible.’ He was a very good cross-country runner and a competitive miler – mostly because he was tall, lanky, and had a great stride. He was running for a club, sporadically because his real job was full-time medical student. He trained during his lunch hour. After a particularly bad week of training he took off with a friend to hike in Scotland. On the face of it, Rudy showed more single-minded intensity over a longer period to make his 15 second appearance for the Fighting Irish than Bannister did in pursuit of sports immortality.

That would be wrong, though. Roger Bannister knew exactly what he was doing every step of the way to 3:59.4 for the simple reason he planned every step. Literally. As a good, solid runner, Bannister knew what it took to run a 4 minute mile. Any halfway decent runner, then and now, knows what it takes because every halfway decent runner can run a 4 minute pace for at least fifty yards.

A 4-minute mile is 15 miles per hour. The mile is symmetric, four laps around the track. At a minute each, you have a four minute mile. In between med school classes, Bannister planned it all out. He studied the effects of 15 mph on the body and made adjustments to his diet, breathing, stride; he redesigned his shoes (at the time the spikes alone weighed more than track shoes today) and figured out a greasy formula that kept track cinders (all tracks were cinder tracks then) from sticking and clotting his spikes.

Then he plotted the race. It wasn’t about running just under a minute, four times over, it was about not being exhausted at the end and being able to utilize his long stride and big kick to maximum advantage … which meant figuring out the precise, optimum time to do so.  Go too early, run out of gas at the end; go too late, finish over 4 minutes with wasted gas still in the tank.

There was also the matter of the first laps and keeping, without going too far over or too far under, that one minute or so pace. It was 1954, times were kept by hand-held stopwatches, there were no scoreboards showing the time in illuminated digits. How, then, to insure he kept the pace he settled on in the first laps? He solved that problem by using ‘rabbits’ – friends who would pace him before dropping off.

The rest, of course, is history. He executed his plan, replicated that success three months later in Vancouver against Australian John Landry. Bannister improved his time to 3:58.9, Landry, also broke the 4-minute mark for the second time. Bannister then retired from running to devote all his time to becoming a neurologist.

If you’ve been a client, or read my book, you know where I’m going with this – it’s all about planning. Especially legal issues. Though it may not seem it to someone facing a foreclosure, or in the middle of a contract dispute, or a contentious divorce, or … well, you get the picture, take a moment to sit back, breathe, and plan with your lawyer. The big picture – 3:59.4 – and the little things – keeping your cleats from clogging.

That way, we can all achieve ordinary greatness.

Dickens, Debt, and Christmas

So now, as an infallible way of making little ease great ease, I began to contract a quantity of debt.

~ Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

imageWhere would Charles Dickens have been without debt? Where would English Lit, Hollywood, and Christmas be without Dickens?

The running themes through Dickens’ long – and lucrative – career were crushing debt, workhouses, courts snarled in technicalities, poverty, sour credit, low wages, foreclosures, banks, scams, mass incarceration, sweatshops, social injustice … All very much applicable today.

If Dickens came back tomorrow, he’d be astonished by the speed of today’s communications; overwhelmed by the modern technologies used in finance; awed but probably pleased with the serialized novel on TV and Netflix, et al – I imagine him binge watching Breaking Bad and The Wire.

He’d find some things appallingly the same, others miraculous. He’d immediately recognize Pharma Bro, everyone running for President, the bankers in The Big Short. Give him a week and he’d be working on a new novel.

Dickens had an unfailing eye for all this because he lived it. He grew up in a imagemiddle class family, comfortable, good at school, apparently fairly happy. All that was destroyed when he was twelve and his father was tossed into debtor’s prison (right). Charles’ mother and younger siblings went with him – as was the custom. Charles,was forced to pawn his school books, was sent off to a workshop to help pay off his father’s debts.

An inheritance saved the family though Dickens’ mother was adamantly opposed to his leaving work and forced him to stay there for long, unhappy months before he left to resume his studies. He rewarded her for that particularly slight through dozens of novels and plays. (From Dickens to Bob Dylan and Alanis Morissette, it’s never a good idea to upset an artist with wide reach).

In his early writing career – he was pretty much a prodigy from the start – he covered the courts and, briefly, Parliament.

He saw the system from every angle and he set out to attack it in the only way he could, through his writing, within the flexibility and thin protection of the novel. He opened Victorian eyes to the seamy underbelly of British wealth, society, and empire.

imageIn 1843 he turned his wrath to Christmas. At the time, many – including his good friend Washington Irving – felt that Christmas season was ebbing away from the poor and increasingly put upon middle-class.

He didn’t like what he was seeing, feeling, and he sat down to write a scathing pamphlet about the issue. It soon occurred to him that a novel would work much better, reach more people. In six weeks he crafted his ‘ghost story’, A Christmas Carol.

He published it himself in an effort to not be ripped off by his usual publisher.A Christmas Carol in prose. - caption: 'Marley's Ghost. Ebenezer Scrooge visited by a ghost.' In today’s parlance, it went viral. Immensely popular, even his [many] critics extolled it. Thousands and thousands of copies were sold, many more – particularly in the United States were ‘bootlegged’ – and it was immediately adapted for the stage. Dickens himself did stage readings of the entire manuscript. It was everywhere.

Humanitarianism, redemption, a dead-on accurate portrayal of early-Victorian England, it hit a nerve in Great Britain and the United States. It hit, hard, the people bearing the burden of the Industrial Revolution, changed the way everyone thought of the Christmas season.

imageHow a man who, when first confronted with poverty and homelessness, says, “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” Finds empathy is inspiring regardless of religious belief. A Christmas Carol was a great story, a strong, bitter indictment of the times, and it worked. It changed things. It has never been out of print.

Again, no debt, no Dickens, no Dickens, no holiday season? The latter may be a stretch, but it’s not unthinkable.

So, sometime in the next few days I plan on catching the 1950 Alastair Sim, A Christmas Carol – a great adaptation (out of dozens, beginning with Thomas Edison’s version in the early 1900s!).

And to all my readers, I hope it’s obvious, “God Bless Us, Everyone.”

About a House

In 1927 a very successful businessman bought a house in New Rochelle, NY. It was a few blocks from New Rochelle Harbor and right on top of the railroad into Manhattan.

The buyer, the son of German immigrants, earned the equivalent of $112,000 in 1927. Well-known in his field, a real up and comer, he was clearly destined to earn more. A great deal more.

He grew up in poverty, his father was an alcoholic and frequently unemployed, his mother worked as a maid. From a young age he helped his mother with her work. She was the breadwinner, the disciplinarian, and he devoted himself to her.

He worked his way to Columbia University, left early to pursue his career, had success from the beginning, always took care of his mother. He bought the house in New Rochelle as a Christmas gift for her.

It was a three bedroom, rather plain house with possibilities. He took over the $10,000 mortgage already on the house and put the title in his mother’s name. Payments were $255 every six months.

He moved in with his parents and began an extensive renovation project. The house was shortly transformed into a showplace.

Our man’s career blossomed, the house was steadily improved, things were idyllic. Then our guy got married in 1933 at age 33. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his new wife and his mother did not get along. At all. The couple moved out of the New Rochelle home in 1934, though he continued to pay the mortgage.

In 1937, in the depth of the Depression, he earned the equivalent of $436,000.  Yet, he did not pay the $3,583 (in today’s dollars) due for the mortgage. It should be noted that our man was very, very careful with money. He had the mortgage payment.

The house was foreclosed on, the parents were forced to move out. Their son received another pay raise, was earning the equivalent of $620,000/year in 1939 when he was diagnosed with a rare, terminal disease. He died in 1941.

Yes, our man was New York Yankee Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig. His life, obviously, has been well documented, he is the subject of a some very well done biographies and one iconic movie, Pride of the Yankees. And yet, no one can figure out why he let the house go to foreclosure.

He wasn’t showing the effects of his illness in 1937, he had the money, but, as is noted by every biographer, his wife and his mother basically hated one another. It’s possible that as the house was in his mother’s name, Gehrig never knew about the foreclosure action. It’s possible that Gehrig’s wife Eleanor simply told Lou to stop paying. It’s also possible that the family decided to walk away from the house.

It’s a mystery, but we can attest to the fact that not all foreclosures make any sense.

The house that Gehrig re-built is still there. It’s had a long, strange history. It’s exterior was used in Pride of the Yankees, though the residents at the time had to sue the the Samuel Goldwyn production company to receive compensation for allowing them the run of the house for a few days. They settled for complimentary tickets to the movie after it opened in New York.

Over the years the house has been in foreclosure several more times. The last time was in 2016. It needs work. It’s fallen behind many of the homes, all built around the same time in 1905, in the neighborhood. It seems that it’s primary value is that it was once the home of Lou Gehrig and he probably did some the renovations in the late 1920s and early 1930s himself. That seems a little tenuous and potential buyers seem to feel the same way.

The house did sell a few months ago,. The yard is overgrown, the back of the house is a mess, the interior needs work and updating, the new owner is hoping to sell it to the New York Yankees to establish a Lou Gehrig Museum on site. The Yankees don’t seem to be that interested – New Rochelle is not all that close to Yankee Stadium.

If you look at some of the other houses in the surrounding area, you can’t miss the fact that many of them are beautiful – grounds, exterior, interior – Colonials kept up over the last century.

Lou Gehrig’s house is a pretty solid example of the lingering effects of a foreclosure in the neighborhood.