Over the years, we have been on friendly terms with our neighbors. For years, there was something known as “Friendly neighboring club”. I was there when the club celebrated its 75th anniversary. The club consisted of neighbors and former neighbors. When people moved away, they longed to preserve the ties they had to this neighborhood.
In the early days, it took place in the afternoon. Mothers brought their preschoolers with them. When I first came along, it was still in the afternoon. Since I was teaching in school, I was not able to go except during the summer months.
I remember apologizing to myself for breastfeeding a baby the first year. Club was at Mamie’s house and she had plenty of space so I could leave alone.
I do not know exactly when, but eventually it turned into an evening gathering. It completely ruled me out because I had two little ones. I couldn’t afford to get a babysitter every month, so I just dropped out for a while.
I came along again when the kids were able to stay home alone. I think at the time our son was helping his father do chores and our daughter was arranging the lunches for the next day.
Most of us did not get out much. We looked forward to club meetings to keep up with the neighborhood gossip. When a member or family member died, the club raised money to send flowers. There was a card secretary who sent birthday cards, anniversary cards and get it right. God bless Barb Carlson who held that position for as long as I can remember. She never forgot anyone.
When Fullers entertained, they always did some cool things. They then enjoyed entertaining. When my mother was going to a nursing home for rehabilitation, she was placed with Talitha Fuller at my request. When the lady asked if they knew each other, I said no. but that they knew people in common. It ended up being a beneficial relationship. When she found out that my mother was traveling, it spurred her to be able to return to her home as well.
They all three came to my mother’s funeral. I cried when I saw them because I knew it was not easy for them to get out.
After my husband died, I maintained a relationship with Carlsons, who lives below me. I visited them about once a month. It helped me so much. It got me out of the house and gave me different people to visit. They even spent Christmas Eve with our family for many years. The last time they were with us, Jack took a family photo for a new frame, which I got as a gift.
The Peterson’s built a house next door. We really enjoyed them. They had several children who went to school with our children. In the evenings we met informally in each other’s homes. The children usually gathered in one house and the adults went to the other house. That was the era of Trivial Pursuit. We often played and nibbled on vegetables and dip or something else good. Sometimes a couple of their golf buddies were there too.
In the winter, we often took sledges down to our fields. We would take our skis and sleds and have fun. After a few hours on the slopes, we usually came here for cocoa and cookies. Sometimes we put our food together and ate dinner together. Those were definitely fun times.
I was sad when they moved. We knew Roger was getting sick and had surgery after they moved. Early one morning our doorbell rang. When I answered, I was not sure if I knew the guy standing there. When he opened his mouth, I knew it was Roger. Sherrie lost Roger last year. Once in a while I see the kids on Facebook, so I follow them that way.
Now we’re connected to the people who have recently purchased their homes. We exchange visits. They come to our church dinners. I was excited to see the improvement they made in the house. They added a wing that made the house bigger. Hopefully we can be as good friends with them as we were with Petersons.
I love living in the countryside. Don has adapted. This was different for him when he lived in Russell after he got married. Before that, he also lived in the countryside. I love the peace and quiet, but I also love the way the neighbors interact.
When I think back on it “Friendly neighboring club” I imagine the ladies who were a part of it. Everyone took a trip to entertain – including me when I lived in the trailer. It made my country live a completely unique experience. Most of those ladies are gone now, but I wish I could thank them for their part in making my country life experience good.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.