Hob Lives Here

Who lit a twiggy fire in the ashes of the hearth and filled the house with smoke in the middle of the night? Mr. asks the question, Mrs. wants to know. Boy and girl did not do it and cannot tell," begins The Red Book of Hob Stories by William Mayne.

At my house it would be "Who shat on the floor in the baby's room? Mrs. threatens to neuter the dog and Mr. tosses the cat out the back door. Boy and girl did not do it so they dance around gleefully singing 'Bad Dog, Bad Cat.'"

I acquired Hob, a compilation of stories about a protective household spirit who only children and pets can see, at some point when I was single and living in a series of apartments. I have no recollection of buying or receiving this book, a book that is clearly written for children. I can remember moving it several times but only read it for the first time about a year ago when my daughter asked me to.

Hob, who looks something like a miniature Newman, encounters all sorts of troublemakers who threaten the peace of his adopted family's home. The worst is the Boggart. Boggart is a pest who sours the milk and causes the bread to go moldy, but at my house I think he is whispering to the pets late at night when we are all asleep, "Inside. Outside. It's all the same. They WANT you to do your business in the house." And let me tell you, the pets are listening. My five-year-old, used-to-be-well-behaved dog and 14 year-old-cat have suddenly lost their manners. I am surprised the fish aren't jumping out of the tank at night just to get in on the action. I told someone the other day that a good day for me is one when I don't have to clean any excrement or vomit off the floor. She laughed but I was quite serious.

Now that I have finally read the book I have been lugging around all these years, I know that the Boggart is the problem and I need a Hob to clear him out.

Evidently adults can't see Hob but I would know if he were here. He would either stop the cat and dog before it is too late - he is very clever with both problems and animals - or at least clean up the messes before I see them. I don't know if Hob comes because one needs him, like Mary Poppins, or if he remains with a house regardless of the owners' needs, more like a ghost.

Morgan and Taylor Fister's house at 702 Melrose could be home for Hob. Built from stone in the style of an English cottage, it looks much like the picture of Hob's house in the book (beautifully illustrated by Patrick Benson). The front garden was landscaped in 1999 and the back garden boasts a cozy deck, mature apple, cherry and dogwood trees. While he isn't telling, if anyone would know if Hob lives there it would be Morgan. He moved into the house when he was in junior high school with his mother and younger brother, Justin. His mother remarried and moved to Cincinnati just as he was beginning college so he continued to live there with several roommates. In 1996 Morgan brought his new bride, Taylor to the house (presumably having kicked the roommates out). They renovated the kitchen, lengthening and widening attic stairs to gain entrance to a spectacularly finished second floor. From the former attic they carved a bedroom and sitting room, a large bathroom with ceramic tile floors, a glass-doored shower and a large walk-in closet. They even built and carpeted a new room for Hob in a tiny cedar closet with a two-foot door.

If it is this kind of detail that enticed Hob, I am standing by with hammer, nails, and a warm down comforter.


702 Melrose


1550 square feet

3 bedroom; 2 bath

2-car garage

Contact Morgan and Taylor Fister 266-9385

If you have a unique or interesting house for sale contact Lissa Sims at lsims@aceweekly.com.