Week 25. Neighbors. Who were your childhood neighbors? Have you kept in touch with any of them? Do you feel the concept of “neighbors” has changed since then?
Let me answer the last question first: My concept of "neighbors" has indeed changed since I was young. Growing up, neighbors were any people you knew well and associated with regularly from your block and perhaps a couple of blocks around. Now, neighbors are people in the houses one or two away from yours, whether you associate with them or not. I tend to be a hermit when left to my own devices, so getting to know the people in the houses around me doesn't happen much. My friendships are people I've known for many years, some of them exclusively online.
My next-door neighbors growing up were the Adams Family (not the Addams Family!). Herb and Delores and their children, Jon, Cherilyn and Ron. All were at least a few years older than me, and I only played much with Ron. Later, Herb and Delores adopted two deaf Korean kids, Linea and Kevin, both younger than me by a few years.
Next to them was the Hanish family, I didn't associate with them as they had no kids when I was there. Next was Blad's, I played with their son Mike some times. Next to them was Mrs. Shotl. I played some with her grandson Mark. Next was Sturm's, Dick and Wilma and their kids Richard, Mike and Kandi. Richard was much older, Mike was Ron Adams' age and Kandi was my age. Dick Sturm died in an accident at work when Kandi and I were young. Beyond them was the Zanith's, whose kids were gone by the time I was there, so I didn't know them. De Rosier's moved in at some point at the next house, on the end of the block. They were a large family with a range of kids from adult down to one my age and one younger.
On the other side of my house was a vacant lot. It had the remains of a below-ground house, or the basement of a regular house, but was filled in with dirt. There was a concrete block garage on the property. We used to climb on the garage and jump off into the snowdrifts in the winter, which tells you how high snow drifted. We played in the lot a bunch when I was young. At some point, the lot sold, and Mr. Lahr and his wife built a nice house on it. They lived there for many years, very good neighbors, but an older couple with no kids at home. Their health failed and they sold the place long after I moved away from home, so I don't know details. A family lives there now, running a daycare facility from the house.
Now, my next-door neighbor is a disabled Veteran named Rufus. I know pretty much nothing else about him. Rufus lives where Charlie and Janae used to live. They were great neighbors, but moved away as Charlie is an airline pilot and had to follow the job where he was needed. They moved several times and now live about 25 miles away. We still see them several times a year. Fritz and Carol live a couple more doors down, a nice older couple trying to sell their house and move. I went to high school with one of their youngest kids. Dave and Eileen live on the far end of the block, I used to work with Dave. On the other side, kitty-corner, some very good friends of long standing bought a house and moved in. Dawn and Gino were friends I met in college before the Navy, and are still very good friends. We visit frequently, but they are the exception rather than the rule. The information is much more sparse for the rest of my current neighbors than even my memories from 25 years ago and more growing up.
We do have a neighborhood. And once or twice a year we have a big gathering, everyone for several blocks around is invited to come and have potluck dinner and meet everyone, see who's moved out and moved in. We have a big map of the area that we have each family write on their house, so we know who lives where. Partly this is a bonding thing, and partly a security thing, so we know if odd people suddenly start showing up, we should inquire or call the police. So all is not lost, I do gather with people who live in close proximity to me to socialize occasionally. But my real friends, most of them, anyway, have moved away, and we keep in touch online, or on occasions when we travel.
This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman