I remember when neighbors were neighborly–at least some of them were. The lady that lived across the street was a good friend to us all. She worked outside the home but when she was laid off, she sometimes visited with Mom for hours. She worked in the garment industry and supplied Mom with paper patterns for dresses for my sisters and me. She saved box tops so I could order little dolls offered by Duz detergent. When my parents died, many years later, she was the first one at the door each time with a covered dish to feed us in our grief.
And then there was her husband. We were all afraid of him. We weren’t even allowed to retrieve a ball that strayed into his yard, not that we would have dared to do so. I think some sort of feud developed between him and Daddy when they were both little boys and lived a few houses apart. They never did get over it. Over the years, the two were involved in a number of little spats with one another.
Daddy and this neighbor continued their feud, just as Mother and his wife continued their friendship, until he and Daddy had both passed away.
The interesting thing about this story is that after his wife and my parents were both gone, I ended up in a casual friendship with the old fellow. He spoke to me a few times when I was in the yard. At first I felt as if I was being disloyal to my deceased father by being nice to him, but his loneliness won me over.
He was mellowed by the loss of his wife and went to the cemetery daily to weep at her grave, causing many folks to say he should have cared half as much about her while he still had her. He was neglected by his own children (and no wonder) and sometimes made excuses to call me.
I visited at his house and he showed me his treasured scrapbooks. This brash old man had saved every receipt, every driver’s license and every piece of mail he had received in his adult life. They spanned fifty years of time and all the items were neatly organized. If my dad, also obsessively organized, had ever seen those scrapbooks, he would have been enthralled. How sad that those two feuded all those years when they might have been friends along with their wives.