Monday, February 22, 2016


This week’s Saturday Challenge involves the neighbors:

1) Think about who your neighbors were when you were a child.  Where did you live?  Who lived next door or across the street?  

2)  Tell us a story about one or more of your neighbors.  If you want to keep them anonymous, just use first names.   Do some research if you need to recall names and years.

I grew up on an 87 acres farm along Owasco Lake, to the south, the nearest neighbor’s house was almost ¼ mile away and behind a hill from us, to the north, I could see the next house, the driveway of the one that was down in a field beside it and the barn of the farm just beyond. As I started thinking about the neighbors, I realized that I don’t really know who they were growing up. Sure, I could list them. I could probably list the names of every person that lived in these houses from the time I was a baby until I moved out. I could also list them for many others.
That is my problem- what is the definition of neighbors? At least in the time and place that I grew up, neighbors didn’t have a geographic definition. They weren’t people living in the houses that you could see or within a certain distance of you. It was more of a feeling. A we’re in this life together type of feeling. Neighbors were the people that lived somewhat near you that you knew and you knew they had your back.
I recall a winter day when I was in community college. My drive to school each morning was from the farm north to the end of our road, about eight miles away and on into the city of Auburn on Route 38A and to the local community college.  There was a patch of road about five miles from our house that ran through woods and for the last few days had been icy as the plows had missed in sanding it properly.
That morning I gingerly started through, but at about halfway, the ice caught me, spun my car and landed me hard into a snow bank just off the road. I was stuck. Getting out of the car, I walked back to the farm just before the woods. I debated whether to go to the house or the barn for help. A team of Belgians coming up through the yard gave me the answer—Mr. Collard was on the wagon and saw me walking down the road. He immediately came to find out what was the matter. He knew the spot, his son had done the same thing last night. He helped me up on the wagon and we rode back to where my car was stuck. While “his girls” pulled the car up on the road, a car coming from the opposite direction slowed to a stop. It was a couple from a mile down the road that taught at the elementary school in Moravia inquiring if I was all right.
Still shaken from my encounter with the ice, I stopped at my brother’s convenience store. Dad was, as usual, there helping out. What was not usual, he came right out to my car. I didn’t tell him what had happened. There was no need. Mr. Collard had called the highway department and had a fit about the ice on the road and then called Dad to tell him. The two teachers had done likewise as well. Moments after, a couple plow drivers from another town had been in the store and they all heard on their portable radio, the town highway supervisor getting yelled at by the county dispatch over my ditching and that I wasn’t the first one.
None of these people lived in close proximity to us. All were neighbors. In the country it’s impossible to draw a line on a map and say these are your neighbors.

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