Our neighbor is moving and he and his wife have been having yard sales each and every Saturday. It’s a smart move, really, because they are doing it as a “house sale” and allowing potential buyers to come inside as well as outside to look at various things they are selling. They no longer reside in the house, so the house has become an impromptu neighborhood marketplace and meeting place. Coffee is served, the occasional doughnut is eaten and one or two things are sold. It’s quite an experience.
I have written about both yard sales and neighbors in this column. I’m going to miss these particular neighbors because they embody the very concept of being neighborly. They are kind, warm and generous. Even if their yard sale customers park on my lawn.
We met our neighbors a few years ago when we first moved in. Surprisingly, we discovered an invitation to their Christmas party. We did not know these people very well and were not accustomed to receiving invitations to parties from people we hardly knew. Each time we saw them, they asked if we were coming to the Christmas party and we told them each time we would certainly try. As the time grew closer, we decided to go. There were scores of people and a lot of food and drink and more wine than the Napa Valley. We laughed and met a lot of new people. There were folks from the Chamber of Commerce and the Knights Of Columbus and one guy — who I think just wandered in — put together a plate of food and grabbed a Coke and sat down. He was no less welcome than any of the rest.
Months passed and we would see the neighbors in their yard and we would stop and talk and eventually an hour or so would pass and we would wave our goodbyes and go inside our respective homes. Spring came around and I found myself looking for a job when the neighbor heard I had applied at a local store. He knew the guy doing the hiring and said he thought I would do fine in the interview. I did and I thanked him for anything that he may have done. He says to this day he did nothing, but I don’t really believe him. He’s the kinda guy who does that sort of thing for people.
My wife and I would meet across the street for bonfires with the neighbors. Marshmallows and conversation would fill the evening hours. Weather never stopped us and I recall at least once having a bonfire with the neighbors when we were ankle deep in snow. The hot chocolate that night was, well, fortified to fight off the chill.
There was once a “dinner in the driveway”, an event that has yet to be repeated. Our neighbors, the guy next door to them and us were all preparing dinner and, in a moment of genius, set up a folding table in the driveway and had a spur of the moment pot luck dinner. These kind of moments used to be called Kodak moments and I wish we had taken pictures to remember the event.
We live on a street and on a block where being neighborly is taken seriously. Even the folks we do not know personally we know by sight. We wave and say hello and good morning and happy holidays and such. I grew up in neighborhoods like that. I can still go back to the old neighborhood and start at the top of the block and tell you who lived in each house when I was a kid. Some of the folks still live there. I was a kid a long time ago and some of the people were old when I was a kid, so I imagine more than a few of them are no longer with us.
Our neighborhood is a lot like that. I think that’s what keeps us here. I could live closer to work and enjoy a shorter commute. We could move back to a big city and not know anyone who lives near us.
I think we will stay right where we are. New neighbors are moving in and we have met them and they seem very nice. The house across the street will always be known as the other neighbors’ house, no matter how long the new people live there. There is always that one house in the neighborhood that is associated with a previous resident. There was an older man named Roy in the neighborhood I grew up in and he had not one, but two houses in the neighborhood. He had lived in one until his wife died. He married a widow a few doors down and for a while he still owned the first house. It was always Roy’s house and I know for a fact I called it that when I was driving past it the last time. I don’t think he’s still with us, but his house always will be.
I’d like to thank our neighbors for reaching out and welcoming us when we first moved in. I know there’s probably one or two folks that still refer to our house as the house of the previous tenant. Our neighbors never did. It was our house from day one.
I believe I will pass that on to the new family that is moving in. They might have big shoes to fill, but they are comfortable ones.
Contributing columnist and Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.