Childhood Memories Friday: Neighbors

Childhood Memories FridayMost of my childhood “neighbor memories” come from the house we lived in when I was about two to thirteen.

On one side of us was an older house occupied by an older woman, Mrs. Koester (“custer”). I remember Mom and I going over just to visit. Nowadays, that concept seems so Anne of Green Gables-ish:  “visiting.” We would sit in her living room, the headrests of the chairs covered in doilies and the shelves filled with little china knick-knacks. Mom would talk and I would just sit and listen, although I can’t honestly remember anything that was said. I do seem to recall her having a little dog.

Our neighbors on the other side were the Robbins. Mrs. Robbins was short and portly, and seemed old to me, although she had a teenage son named Tommy. My main memory of Tommy is that he learned to drive in their driveway, backing up and going forward, backing up and going forward, over and over and over again.

Mrs. Robbins (I guess there was a Mr. Robbins, but I don’t remember him at all) had an adult daughter Mary Lou, who had a son a bit younger than me named Shannon. My sister and friends and I used to talk to Shannon over the fence separating our backyards, and often these exchanges became pretty acrimonious. It seems like once Shannon was threatening us with some type of orneriness, and we said we would spray him with a hose. At that point Mrs. Robbins came out and launched into us, castigating us for “standing there with your arms crossed!” What an accusation!.

Anyway, years went by and Mrs. Robbins died. Mary Lou still lived in the house, and once asked us to come in and feed her cats while she was gone. We did – and what an experience. It was kind of like a Hoarders house, but apparently what she hoarded was cats. We saw a few, but the whole house was old, and dark, and smelled absolutely awful. The whole memory is still kind of nightmare-inducing, and strange to think that it was right next door.

Do you remember neighbors from your childhood?

5 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Neighbors

  1. Oh, when I was a very little girl, there was this family next door to my grandmother (where we spent a great of our early childhoods) – he was Hawaiian, and she was. . . so not. A very large blonde lady named Pat. (I wouldn’t dream of trying to spell the last name – not that I’d post it anyway.) They had two daughters – the older looked just like her dad – very dark hair, slim, absolutely gorgeous, and so nice. She was, oh, probably a 15 or 16 at the time I was 5 or 6. The younger daughter was exactly the same age as I was – and she was kind of a chubby little blonde girl – and SUCH a BRAT! We almost never played together.

    We didn’t know the neighbors on the other side very well – I think they had several teenage boys (which, as little girls, we all mutually ignored each other, I suspect), though I do remember that one of them had a pet crow that he’d taught to say a few words. Very weird. (Though I may be mis-remembering that – I was very young!)

    And, of course, there was Anne Marie across the street – she was the same age as my sister (a year younger than I) and, I remember her THICK glasses – Anne Marie had “cataracts.” Her mom made Barbie clothes for her – Anne Marie’s dolls were the best dressed I’d ever seen!

  2. Doesn’t Mary Lou still live in the same house?

    As for neighbors, when they lived a quarter of a mile from you on a neighboring farm you didn’t spend too much time with them. On one side of us, lived my dad’s sister and her husband. Because my dad was youngest of all his siblings, and because he didn’t marry until a bit later in life, my aunt’s children, at least most of them, could have been my parents, as far as age is concerned. Her youngest child rode the same school bus as I, but he was a senior when I was in first grade. I recall having written him a time or two when he was in the military, somewhere in Central America, if memory serves me right. Ah, those were the days.

  3. In rural Indiana where I grew up, we had many friendly neighbors on nearby farms. All of us went to the same church that you could see from our kitchen window, although it was nearly a mile away. That was very comforting to me to see the church belfry and be able to point to the church as “my church” whenever a Jehovah’s Witness came to the door (which was not very often, but useful when needed).

    There were 5 neighbor kids my age around the “block”, which is a mile on each side around the section in a country square out. We often got together riding our bikes, playing Horse basketball, but more often playing kickball or kick the can, if no ball was available at the time. In summer we would spend a whole afternoon with neighbor friends until it started to get dark and we had to head for home. If we were in danger of being kidnapped or molested by a child predator, we never knew it. No adult was ever lurking around our neck of the woods, thank goodness.

    I especially have fond memories of going for walks in the woods in springtime with a neighbor lady named Mary Rupert (also a relative), who taught us the names of all of the wild flowers. I already knew their names because my Grandpa Rupert had taught me about flowers and trees and the morel mushrooms that were safe to eat when I was only 5 or 6. Summers were fun for all of the reasons listed earlier. Fall was great, too, with campfires and hayrides. You haven’t lived until you taste a burnt marshmallow or hot dog roasted on a stick over an open fire! Winters were mighty fine as well what with ice skating with other kids on our farm pond and sledding down the banked barn hill.

    We were dirt poor, but so was everyone else in those post-Depression days. We didn’t even realize the total lack of money because we felt rich in experiences and thankful to God for what we did have. Those were some of the best years of my life for sure…ah, how I loved those carefree days of childhood bliss.

  4. And from what part of Indiana does Leona come?

    Huntington Co., just west of here. It’s where I taught, and she’s lived there all her life.

  5. From what I’m told, things are really happening for Mary Lou, my neighbor. I believe she’s retired. A year ago this summer she told me she would retire this summer (just ended), get married to a man she’s been around for years, but who has lived in another part of the state, and leave this huge old home. I see very little of her lately, so I hope things are falling her way!

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