won’t you be my neighbor?

SANDY RUN, S.C. – Mary Sue Merchant died of  natural causes in her tightly locked house on 25 acres in this small community, with only a dog for company. Now her small town is reflecting on why no one noticed for 18 months


 This isn’t the first time I’ve recently read stories like this. People not noticing neighbors.  People living side by side so caught up in their own lives that they don’t notice those who live around them. We pull up our driveway into our garages and the door comes down shutting out the world around us. We can find other countries, other worlds on our computers and television sets but we don’t know the first names of the people next door.

I know some say that’s a good thing because of the perverts and sickos among us but when we shut out our neighbors we shut out so much more.

I grew up in a house on a street in a neighborhood of people I knew. My parents let us outside alone in packs safe in the knowledge that the people who lived around us knew us too. Our street was like family each house another branch on the family tree. Mrs Rietano next door babysat us. My first babysitting job was for the family on the other side. My oldest son named for their little boy, a man now with boys of his own. We celebrated birthdays, had street picnics, mourned losses, and we children played outside year round. WE waved at each other when passing in cars and when someone was ill we pulled together to help out. One memorable winter the men n the street dug us out house by house after a particularly bad snow storm.

There were bad things about living on a close-knit street like I did. I could get in trouble at one end of the street and my folks would know about it by the time we’d all pedaled back home. Each house had a story. One family retired missionaries, another the large family of the local Police Chief, a childless (by choice) couple, an immigrant from Italy and her adult unmarried daughter. We had 6 Kodak families, two from Case-Hoyt, a widow with 8 children who always was first to help out anyone who needed anything. one always unemployed man who took his anger out on his wife and kids time after time even after one by one the other parents would call the police for help. We looked after the weak ones, cheered on the athletes, and helped each other put up and take down Christmas and Hanukkah decorations. Kids got to play outside after dark, parents felt safe knowing who was around us.

It sounds like a silly old fashioned life to live but there’s a security and happiness in knowing your neighbors. I know mine now, it’s second nature for me. I wave and say hello and send over baked goods to the nice elderly widower on the corner. I don’t want to be the person who one day is quoted in the paper saying “I hadn’t seen her in a while but I was so busy I just never noticed” My life is busy and yes, I pull up the driveway and into the garage and close the door shutting out the world around me but I always make sure to know the people around me because life is full of strangers already, I don’t want to live surrounded by strangers too.


8 comments on “won’t you be my neighbor?

  1. I was one of THOSE people for some time. Problem is that it is too easy to ignore what happens around you and let others deal with the problems. I decided about three years ago that we (the wife and I) were going to get to know the neighbors. So in late November of 2006, we baked a crap-load of pies and went to the neighbors on each side of us and across the street, and knocked on the door and gave them the pies.

    The thing that surprised us was how warmly we were welcomed. In some cases they returned the favor by giving us a cake or something along the same lines. We were not expecting that nor did we know how to take it. So we were gracious and accepted it.

    Now, almost three years later, we are all much closer. They have even come over and told us when they were going on vacation and what cars to look out for in their driveways while they were gone.

    When I was growing up, in a little town called Taft, ca. We knew everyone on the street… and they knew us. We did not even have a lock on the door, it was just that safe.

    I think that the electronic age has killed the good neighbor philosophy to a great extent.

    Nice Blog, BTW.

  2. Seems that you have nice neighbors around you. Mine are horrible. I write short stories in my blog. Thinking of writing a story about my neighbor after reading your post.


  3. Excellent post.Its very true.Living with friendly neighbours is a great way to live.

  4. We can find other countries, other worlds on our computers and television sets but we don’t know the first names of the people next door –> that’s me hahaha…. i was wondering the same thing 😀

  5. I live in the suburbs and I think some of it is a privacy issue. With houses so close, people tend to stick to themselves in order to create some type of privacy. I am actually close with all of my immediate neighbors and am truly grateful for that as we have helped each other out on more than one occasion.

  6. Sounds this is a growing trend in middle America and suburbs. I still hear stories of parent of friend whose neighbors are on the lookout for them (newspaper not picked up). All community sense is not lost!

  7. That’s why I hate the city, a lot of people dont even know the name of their naighbors.

    Hi I’m Selbon

  8. It doesn’t sound silly and old fashioned to me.

    It sounds wonderful.

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