What are the essentials of life?
Food, water, shelter . . . ? Neighbors, according to a little girl answering this question in children’s church.
Being raised a city child is to grow up with neighbors. You can’t help but be aware of those people living 20 feet from your side porch or straight across the street from your front door. But we not only knew who our neighbors were then, we actually were friends with them . . . some lifelong, like-family friends.
The neighborhood kids played hide ‘n seek and rolly bats, made mud pies in the ditch, and rode our bicycles up and down the street. Our parents sat in lawn chairs out in the yard under the street light on hot summer nights, just relaxing -- visiting. It was a nice community.
Mr. Hall and his eldest son Glen from across the street were my first real life heroes when they took off running up the street with a baseball bat to save my little Chihuahua, Padro, from the jaws of a large Irish Setter. The setter was just scared off and Padro survived after some doctoring. Clarence and Glen Hall were thus endeared to my heart forever.
Mrs. Snowden from two doors down let me pick out my first kitten, Patches, from her cat’s latest liter. Mr. Reynolds from next door helped me with his ladder to get Patches off the roof -- though as a nearly grown cat by then she had climbed up easily enough by way of the tree next to our house. And the Gilreath girls from across the street invited me over for popcorn and hot chocolate to console me when Patches died, as all pets eventually do, sadly.
That is what good neighbors do. We help each other get through life, good times and bad. We look out for one another.
We live in the country now so neighbors are spread out, but just as caring. God has blessed Campbell County with some folks that make particularly good neighbors. Mine hail from as far away as New York City and Claiborne County to as home bred as the next hollow over, but they are a good-hearted lot which I’m proud to have as friends. They help us corral our wayward cows, help pull out our wayward lawn mower, share from their gardens (and kitchens), give us a ride when the car is on the blink, check on us when we’re on the blink, and the list goes on and on. From the “howdy-do” in passing on the lane to the leisure conversations and laughs, I am thankful for my neighbors. I hope I have opportunities to be as good a neighbor as I’ve been blessed to have through the years.
And I think revitalizing the Neighborhood Watch program in coordination with the sheriff’s department is a great idea. This will help our naturally good neighbors be better organized and prompted to be pro-active against crime, knowing that the law officials are interested and will back us up. Together, we can make a difference.
Because if I had my way, in my perfect world we would always enjoy, as Mr. Rogers says, “a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”