Blind woman, 83, evicted from home

August 19, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Surrounded by sheriff's deputies and her children, a blind retired domestic worker left her Highland home of 44 years yesterday, evicted by the west Howard County family that she and her children had once served.

Lulu Moore, 83, left peacefully yesterday morning as movers hustled her belongings to the side of the road, next to a mailbox and a white-painted wheel with her name and the house address.

"I'm not sorry, because I can't see or do anything," said Mrs. Moore, who will stay with a daughter in Montgomery County.

"I just thank the good Lord for my health. I thank him for what he's doing and for what he's done for me. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have my health," she said.

But her relatives -- and even members of the family that is forcing her out so it can sell the property -- saw the eviction in a more tragic light.

"I feel sorry because this has been her lifetime home here, where she's raised her kids," said Dottie Moore, a distant relative of Mrs. Moore's and a director with the Howard County Community Action Council. "It's very traumatic for her to be uprooted to go into strange territory. . . . Hopefully, she'll adjust. I share in her belief that things will work out."

And Peter Scheidt, representative for the Scheidt family, which owns the 120-acre property, regretted that the dispute between the two families had come to this.

"It's just a terrible tragedy this has taken place," said Dr. Scheidt, one of three siblings who want to divide the property into 28 one-acre lots.

"We've been pleading with her for a year not to let this happen," Dr. Scheidt said. "We've offered to help her along the way. She's not shown any intention to go. We're really upset it has to come to this."

The eviction marks the end of a year-long battle between Mrs. Moore and the Scheidt family. It comes four months after the dismissal of her lawsuit seeking title to the four-room, two-story house in the 13500 block of Route 108 in which she reared her five children.

According to the Scheidts, Mrs. Moore worked for the family as domestic help for two years ending in 1950, when Melvin and Prue Scheidt bought the northern half of the Paternal Gift farm on which the house sits.

At that time, the family said, the Scheidt couple agreed to let Mrs. Moore live in the house for a $35 monthly rent and the understanding that family members would provide household and farm help.

Mrs. Moore's daughter, Pauline, did housework for the family until her death in 1982. Mrs. Moore's son, Millard, worked part-time on the farm while he lived on the property.

The Scheidt couple's children also say their parents never intended to leave the property to Mrs. Moore because they made no mention of it in their will. And they have records of their parents' 1956, 1966 and 1976 IRS forms on which they claim as income the rent Mrs. Moore paid for living in the house.

But Mrs. Moore denies ever paying any rent, according to her lawyer, who said she requested copies of documentation but never got any.

The Scheidt couple died within a week's time in 1979. Their children in 1981 signed an agreement with the Moores in which the Moores agreed to pay $150 a month after a septic tank and plumbing were installed. The house has no central air-conditioning and is warmed by a wood stove in the winter.

The Scheidt family gave notice to Mrs. Moore to leave the house in June 1993. "She has five gainfully employed children, and it was time for the children to have a role to take care of her," Dr. Scheidt said.

Shortly after, Mrs. Moore, through her attorney, initiated legal proceedings to claim that the property was hers through "adverse possession," which requires that a tenant live openly and continuously on the property for more than 20 years, among other conditions.

Mrs. Moore also claimed in her lawsuit that the agreement she signed was to pay $150 a month to help defray the cost of installing the plumbing and septic tank, not for rent.

Mrs. Moore's daughter, Shirley Foreman of Montgomery County, said Melvin and Prue Scheidt agreed when they were alive to give Mrs. Moore the house.

"She had signed papers years ago when the parents were still living, but she couldn't find copies of anything," Ms. Foreman said. "They had told her it was her house."

Yesterday, Mrs. Moore sat in her kitchen before workers began the process of moving her belongings -- among them, old mattresses, dinette chairs, a bed in the living room and two recliners.

She wore a faded green plaid dress and a white button-down sweater and clutched a black purse and a red comb.

"I feel all right," she said, her short, silver hair neatly combed. "Eviction's not going to hurt. I feel the same. I can't see nothing."

Mrs. Moore recalled how she loved to bake bread in the very lTC kitchen she was leaving -- she once baked as many as 600 rolls there for her church. And she loved to sew when she was younger and had her sight, which she lost to diabetes.

"I would pedal the sewing machine all day, and I would get so hungry," she said, her feet lightly tapping the floor.

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