What a nice, quiet evening ... Jim and 3 of the boys are sleeping out in the pop up camper, but my little guy decided he wanted to stay inside with me. Now to get the dogs to stop barking/howling at the coyotes! We lived in that camper when we first moved up here, and I can honestly say I'm not ready yet to move back in.
Yesterday Jim finally was able to check out my washing machine that died the 2nd day he was gone. Unfortunately, the needed repair part would cost half as much as the price of a new machine. So, for the time being the machine is sitting in 3 pieces under our semi trailer. I was very thankful that a friend offered us one that she had in storage; for a while there I was afraid that Jim would hand me a scrub board and wringer! A couple of days ago I tried hand washing socks and underwear, and ended up with blisters from rubbing clothes together to try to get the boys' socks clean. I'm very thankful to be back in business again and able to slowly reduce the mounds of dirty laundry. Now I need some longer clotheslines to hold everything.
My folks let me know a couple of days ago that our next door neighbor had suddenly passed away. Jack had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure a few years ago, but his death still was a shock to everyone. Hard to believe that our families have been neighbors for almost 50 years. The incident started me thinking about my childhood years in that neighborhood.
Carlton had a grand total of 862 people back then, and I don't think it's grown much since. We lived in a housing subdivision about a mile out of town. Most of the houses came in wall sections and then were set up; my Dad bought our house on the GI bill for $13,000. I was 6 months old when we moved in.
This morning I checked out the online guest book for our neighbor, and it was so much fun to read what some of the now grown up kids in the neighborhood had to say about him. There were probably only 20 houses in this neighborhood, and we all knew each other well. Some families had older kids, but most were close in age to my brothers and me. There was a real sense of community back then, even though we weren't country folks. Pretty much all the parents kept an eye out for the neighborhood kids as well as their own, and we knew if we did something wrong our parents would surely hear about it. If someone was sick, there were meals brought in. I remember my Mom going over to the neighbor's to start up the coffee pot and get things ready for company while the family was at their child's graduation ceremony. We all cared for each other.
It sure wasn't like this when Jim and I married and moved into our house in Fargo. One neighbor came over to introduce herself, but it took a while before others made any effort to get to know us. One set of neighbors did a very good job of keeping their distance, and we knew they weren't interested in the give and take of what I knew from my growing up years. We lived in that house for 13 years, and the neighborhood went downhill very quickly. Private homes were becoming rental properties, and quite a few of them were used for parties every weekend.
I found it very interesting when we moved up here, because very quickly all I had to do was mention my name and people knew who we were, and where we lived. I had forgotten what it was like to live in a small community, and remember determining not to tell the lady at the counter in the post office my name. The first time I was in the post office I was horrified to hear her asking all kinds of personal questions of the people standing in line -- right in front of everyone! I wasn't going to volunteer any information to her! I guess I didn't need to worry about it, as Jim had already gone before me and answered all her questions. Later on I heard the statement that I have found to be true: Most will gossip about you, but when something happens, they will be the first ones in line to lend a helping hand. I don't know if it's true about other farming communities, but it seems like life up here is at least 20 years behind the bigger cities, such as where we lived in Fargo. I like it that way.
I still haven't visited with the lady at the counter in the post office, but I guess I should do that one of these days.