Saturday, March 19, 2011


Most all of us can recall some neighbors that we have had that became very close to us, almost part of our family, but we also can think of the ones that were a bit different and interesting to watch and live near.

I can think of many in the many cities in which we have lived, but I think I will only tell you about our house on 18th street in Minnesota in the early years of our marriage. It was on a street with all those post-war G.I. houses with 2 bedrooms down, a living room and a kitchen and a large room with eaves upstairs. Janet next to us lived in one that was very different as she was always renovating and adding this and that and her house was always perfect in every way as was her yard. She had married this husband after her divorce and felt she had come up in the world, as his dad was a bigshot at Hormel's. She always thought that Tessie across the street was beneath her and her kids as well.

Tessie and Joe had three little girls. The seven year old daughter was crazy about horses so they did own a horse named Big Red. They kept him a block or so away on a vacant lot as we lived on the outskirts of town. All the kids in the neighborhood were fascinated with Big Red and sometimes when Terry rode him to their house they gave rides to the kids.

Of course, as horses do, he would sometimes leave horse apples in the street. My neighbor Janet, who was an immaculate housekeeper, complained to Tessie about the crap in the street and told her that she should clean it up. So one day soon after, Tessie, who was a very unconventional outspoken individual, scooped up the poop in a pail and went to Janet's back door, opened it up, and holding the pail aready to heave ho, she yelled "I cleaned this sh--t up, so what do you want me to do with it?” Tessie stood there laughing at the expression of horror on Janet’s face. She turned; shut the door, laughing all the way home!

All of us were young and had small children and babies. We had morning coffees together most every day. This was in the 50's when women stayed at home with their little ones and daddy made enough to support a family by himself. However we were a little competitive in some ways. They always made fun of my being the last to get my washing on the line on Monday mornings. (I always have been a night person.) I still had a wringer type washer, a good ole Maytag. So one Sunday night I decided to beat them at their game.

I washed my sheets and hung them out on the line around midnight in the dark and then with a smug smile I went to bed. It didn't take them long to figure out what I had done, but it was fun while they were still trying. When I ambled over to Lorraine's for coffee that morning, they were all waiting for me and laughingly accused me of my deception. Then they each told me of their individual thoughts when they first came out to hang their clothes on their lines. I got most of them for a few minutes and then they all thought that no way did she get up early and get those out there.

Neighbors you don’t forget.


Bernie said...

Okay I love the picture but I miss the story about the rabbit, dog and the was hilarious and think you should put it back in.
Many of my family members lived in G.I. houses back then and there was a great sense of community when our mom's sat outside on the stoop talking while the kids played on the street. Wish we would do more of that today....
Sending big hugs......:-)

Donna said...

Neat post!! I remember my mother hanging laundry and then having a coffee clutch with the neighbor ladies. I loved to sit near them and hear all the "grown-up" talk. If mother saw me and figured out what I was up to, I was banished to be with the!
They all gathered in the fall to make apple butter in the park...I loved just the smell over the open fire...and again hearing them talk.
As for the wringer mother got my arm stuck in it one time helping...she just turned it on reverse and wrung me out again! Ha!
Great post...thanks for the memories!!

June said...

There's always a Janet in every neighborhood, isn't there? I would have liked Tessie better . . . and I hope she put that horse manure in her garden!

How I envy your having been able to stay home and keep house the way people used to "keep house." I bet you put away the last season's clothes and got out the next season's clothing, too.

Gail said...

Tessie is my kind of neighbor!

Deb Shucka said...

I love your stories! And it was wonderful to see the picture of your young family.

I think we've lost a lot as we have less and less time to be neighbors face to face.

Wanda..... said...

Wonderful memories, Bernie. I grew up in a neighborhood like that. The clothes washing days play a big part in the memories of my childhood. I used to enjoy helping with the wash, the wringers fascinated me! So enjoyed your story and photo!

yaya said...

You described my childhood home! My Mom still lives there. Dad built it and my Mom was the only Mom that worked outside the home. But we had great neighbors and good times too that people just don't take the time to do much any more. Great post, good memories!

Joey said...

I love the woman with the horse! How spunky she was!

You know, Bernie, I wish my neighbors were like that... but things have changed, and the women work.

Fences, I think make a difference too. I wish we all had short fences so that we could talk. I miss that.

I love this post. It really touched me.


Frank said...

Neighbors make a house home, and a neighborhood a wonderful place to come home to. Never have "hung" laundry, remember a "ringer" washer though as my mom had one when I was little when we lived on the farm. Sure have some great stories of our neighbors and the fun things we have done over the years.

Tessie sounds like our Cris. :)

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Surely I'm not sucking my thumb in that photo. Surely not.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Nice post. How strange my short story was on neighbours! (Note the 'proper' spelling! We have Centres all over England spelt centers. Dreadful! Only joking!)

Michelle Wells Grant said...

Nuthin' as great as stories about the good ol' days. Love it! (more & more I realize where Julie gets her sense of humor and mischief!)

fiftyodd said...

Lovely blog. How I wish my own mother could have discovered the joys of blogging and Skype. Still, I have all the letters she had written me since 1968 when I left home. I am slowly reading them all again. It brings her back - especially to see her own dear handwriting.


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