Saturday, June 18, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History - Neighbors

This week's prompt in the 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History is "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?"

I grew up in a small town in western Kentucky.  While it wasn't Mayberry per se, the older I get, the more it transforms into it.  

The one thing that doesn't grow rosier with each year was the relationship with our neighbors.  We had some of the best neighbors - the kind that you hear stories about.

When I read this week's prompt, I immediately thought of our neighbors just down the hill from us.  They had four children, the youngest was just months younger than myself.  From my earliest memories, she and I were inseparable.  I have a photograph of the two of us - we were barely 2 and 3, but there we were in the sandbox my daddy had made.  She was in all the pictures of my birthday parties as I was in hers.    

Walks to school together, bike rides anywhere in the neighborhood, playing in the dying light of days during summer vacation - there we were.

Then, one day, she told me her family was moving to West Germany (yes, there were two then) because her father was being transferred.  We were in middle school by then, but it was like losing part of me.  She would come back to visit each summer and we wrote each other constantly.  I still have her letters!  Stories of going skiing on Spring Break in Switzerland or a track meet in Paris sounded much more adventurous than "I'm going to the Smokies" or "I'm going to Cape Girardeau", when in fact, they were the same distance.

She and I've come together again on Facebook.  It was wonderful finding her and part of my childhood again.

The neighbors on our street and the surrounding ones would come together again and again in times of trouble and times of celebration.  They kept an eye on all the children and, many times, my mother knew of my antics before I ever got home!  

There was a sense of community then; one that's sadly missing from today's society.  While I know my neighbors, I don't "know" my neighbors.  I wave, they wave.  We exchange baked goods on holidays.  We speak while in the yard.  But it's not the same. 

We went back to Calvert City last year when my sister and I took our mother's ashes for burial in Iowa.  We parked in front of our old house.  I can't help but wonder if that community is still there and if it's still Mayberry for the children of Cypress Street.

(I apologize.  I've not written any articles lately.  I started a new job about 6 weeks ago and have been stressed with re-entering the office environment.  Things have fallen into place now and I should be writing much, much more.)

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