Neighbor spotlight: Rose and Tom McClarren

Photo of Tom and Rosie McClarren

Grand-Bates longtime neighbors, Rosie & Tom (Mr. Wonderful) and McClarren

The very first neighbors my husband and I met in Grand-Bates were the McClarrens. We had just put in an offer on our house and had driven over to look at it again. It was a warm, sunny early summer evening.

We had admired the gorgeous perennial garden planted in the parkway in the 1100 block of Bellerive every time we drove to the new house. Well, we were about to meet the couple responsible for it.

We had not been out of the car for more than a few minutes when the neighbor who had been tending to that beautiful garden sauntered over and introduced himself. It was Mr. Wonderful. Jeet and I spent the better part of an hour learning about our home, its former owners, the neighborhood, religion, and politics. I was “home.”

It is hard to imagine anyone on Bellerive who has not met the self-appointed czar of the boulevard and his lovely bride, Rosie. I not only had fallen hard for our new home, but had fallen head-over-heels for our new ‘hood.

Over the two years, Jeet and I have forged close friendships with so many in Grand-Bates, but you never forget your first love ;).

For the inaugural neighbor spotlight, I could think of no one else to interview.

How long have you lived in the Grand-Bates neighborhood?

Rosie: All my life. I grew up on Wilmington.

Tom: Since 1974. We moved from a little house on Pennsylvania Avenue, by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet convent.

What’s your oldest memory of your life in the Grand-Bates neighborhood?

Rosie: My mother, Ina, walking me to Woodward School for my first day of kindergarten – along with the family doggie, Dutchess. 

Tom: Necking with Rosie in Bellerive Park, listening to the car radio. Then, discovering the car battery died, and carrying Rosie home in the snow (because she was wearing these thin, little shoes that would not have protected her feet from the snow). What a guy!

(Tom added that a park ranger tapped on the steamed-up car windows to make sure the passengers in the car were alive.)

What your favorite memory of living in Grand-Bates?

Tom & Rosie: We used to have big block parties, where most neighbors and households participated. There have been attempts to revive neighborhood get-togethers, but they have not reached the level of attendance that we used to have.

What is one thing about your house that most passers-by don’t see?

Tom & Rosie: We love the garden we put in back of the house. We both enjoy flower gardening. When our garden is in bloom, we are rich with birds and butterflies. We also enjoy the sitting on the back patio, listening to the calm bubbling of our fountain.

(True. If you are impressed with their gardening project in the parkway, their back garden is breathtaking.)

What is your favorite thing to do in the Grand-Bates neighborhood outside your home?

Rosie: Catching up on gossip at Lisa-Michelle’s Hair Studio (5539 S. Grand), where both of us get our hair done. It has a family-friendly atmosphere.

Tom: Also, my stylist and favorite sister-in-law, Evie, gets to abuse me.

What do you love most about your neighbors?

Tom & Rosie: Our neighbors are dependable, friendly, and ready to help! It’s a real family feeling to live among them.

What is 1-word to describe what is best about living in Grand-Bates?

Tom & Rosie: ENJOYABLE.

Many thanks to Tom & Rosie for answering our questions, being amazing neighborhood leaders, and providing a beautiful garden we all get to enjoy. We love you.