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March 2nd, 2006

In the Place Where You Live

More and more, people in America are moving into suburbs where they might not know their neighbors at all. That’s kind of sad to me – I understand why it got that way, but I’m not sure I agree with it.

Do you find that you don’t know anyone who lives nearby? Or do you know everyone who lives nearby (and are in some sort of awesome throwback to the 50s and 60s)?

Posted in Everyday Life

DATE: Thursday March 2, 2006 -- 9:18:42 am
I barely know my neighbors. We know their names - and wave hello when we see them in the yard - but our social interaction beyond the occasional chat at the mailbox is zero.

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday March 2, 2006 -- 9:26:42 am
We know both of our next-door neighbors pretty well. We have dinner occasionally, we watch the other's house when someone's out of town, and we've swapped keys.

That said, we've lucked out with good neighbors. On the rest of my block, I can name one other family by name and that's it. And I know which house has the guy who has threatened to kill dogs.

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday March 2, 2006 -- 10:00:15 am
Heck, I live in an apartment building right near downtown and I hardly know my neighbors.

I did get to know some when I first moved in, but many of those have moved away. The few remaining people I know I only know as "people with screaming kid" or "lady who tailgates her way through the garage door to avoid paying for an opener".

FROM: Greg
DATE: Thursday March 2, 2006 -- 1:32:45 pm
Living in the same place all my life and delivering papers when I was a kid helped me to know just about everyone around. Most of those people have moved away and the people who replace them barely know any english. It's tough to get to know someone when you can't understand anything they say.

My favorite is the "Shit Bag" family as my neighbor and I call them. We think they speak both english and spanish. You would never know though since you can never get more than a grunt out of them. I came home late one night saw their garage door was open. I knocked on their door (I saw the glow of a television in their living room so they should have still been up) to let them know. I got a nice grunt and that was it! I won't even start on my other neighbor, Crazy Psycho Lady. If there are any requests, I can ping in again, it really is some funny stuff.

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Thursday March 2, 2006 -- 5:49:50 pm
There's the nextdoor "snowblow at midnight three days after the big snowstorm just because the noise ordinances don't apply to snow removal" guy to the right or north. (To me, the ordinances ought to apply again once a reasonable period after the storm has passed.)

There's loud party house across the street. There's the lady on constant dog poop patrol next to him. Down the street there are the people who I've never seen but who have an AWESOME vegetable garden in the side yard. Across from them it's the weird junior high kid who tried to pick a fist fight with me just for his amusement.

I'm probably the guy with the dog always in the window.

At least my next door lady neighbor to the left or south is nice. And she's also friends with her next door neighbor on the other side, but I don't know them. She goes out of her way to be a nice neighbor and I appreciate it.

FROM: jk
DATE: Thursday March 2, 2006 -- 10:23:39 pm
I know my neighbors fairly well. Our houses are very close together but we have no common walls or driveways (phew!). I chose my lot because when I was house-shopping and looked at this lot, the realtor told me the people nextdoor were retired and the husband is a classically-trained pianist. Free entertainment! My tennis pro neighbors who ALWAYS parked in front of my car (see old ping about SUVs) moved away and they were replaced by very nice triathletes with a son who loves sports. The other day the windchill must have been close to zero, but he and his dad spent over an hour playing lacrosse!

My favorite neighbors (no it's not a contest) with the dog I loved moved about 2 miles away last summer, and I have never introduced myself to the people who bought their house because I resent the fact that they tried to replace the other family. Not that it's their fault.....

Our neighborhood has monthly cookouts once it warms up, conveniently in the park right off my backyard. It's completely haphazzard but people always end up bringing just the right variety and quantity of food.

I know some people only by their dogs' names. There is a family with a Great Dane that scares my friends when they visit, not because he's vicious. He just runs the perimeter of their yard (wireless fence) and they compare him to a giraffe! The other day I drove by and saw a puppy Dane! I yelled "Hello Mini Cosmo!" but I don't think they heard me.

I have always tried to get to know the people right around me regardless of where I live.

FROM: Steve A.
DATE: Friday March 3, 2006 -- 8:32:37 am
I live in a rural southern town with the population of 3000 (80+% black). Anyway, we were the "young'uns" on the street. I would have thought the average age was 55-60 or more. We were mid 40s/upper 30s.

Everybody 'knows' everybody, but they may not know their names. We've retirees, a state delegate (our former mayor and retired NC Highway Patrolman), two teachers, a minister, chef (me) and former member of Ink Spots (my next door neighbor). We are no longer the youngers, the minister and his wife are younger.

During hurricane season we all tend to each other. If power goes out, grills come on. We take food to the elderly's and ensure they're okay. In essence, it's Mayberry.

Once a year we have a street party meal hosted and sponsored by a neighbor who owns a chicken processing/wholesale place. He does up whole hogs on the smoker and we literally pig out.

At Christmas my wife and I hand deliver cards to all the neighbors. During the spring, summer and fall (and great weather days like yesterday in the winter), we go out for our evening walk. We stop and chat with the folks on their porches and others walking about.

So yeah, we know our neighbors.


FROM: Aanen
DATE: Friday March 3, 2006 -- 8:47:12 am
We've lived next to our both our neighbors for 20 years now! There's only one other family that has lived on our street for about the same amount of time.

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday March 3, 2006 -- 9:33:55 am
Steve, that indeed does sound like Mayberry. Glad to hear places with that atmosphere still exist.

FROM: Steve A.
DATE: Friday March 3, 2006 -- 9:41:55 am
One other item that I forgot to mention, during 'flowering season' several ladies on/near the block get freshly cut flowers and herbs from our garden. We deliver those on Sunday during our walks.

C'mon out Ryan, 5000 sqft house - upstairs is selfcontained down to it's own kitchenette, plenty of room for extra folks.


FROM: I am guilty
DATE: Tuesday March 7, 2006 -- 1:46:12 pm
I have been living in the same house since 1986 and I barely know my nieghbors, just a little casual talk once in a blue moon! I am not proud about that.
To Steve. I admire you and your nieghbors!

FROM: Chris from TX
DATE: Tuesday March 7, 2006 -- 2:13:56 pm
I live in a neighborhood where most folks seem to transfer often. I have been in my house 10 years (thought it would only be 5 tops!) I have had 4 different neighbors across the street from me, the same to the left, same to the back rt. corner, etc. Of the neighbors that have been here about the same amount of time; the one to the left has a Nazi for a wife (literally, intollerant German perfectionist... LOL) and the one behind me is also obnoxious (but his kids are nice :-).

Anyway, it has been my experience that you rarely know more than a T canvas [door to door salesman term) of your house (front, back, lt., rt. and the 4 corners). Why? Everybody seems overscheduled.

I am out of the house a minimum of 12 hours each day for instance. I also teach karate once a week. From talking to karate parents, each of their kids usually does at least one other activity and some as many as 3 other activities. When does anyone have time to talk to their neighbors anymore?

Anyway, I know the parents of my karate kids better than my neighbors and I only see these parents once a week for an hour!

So, I think it comes down to free time and a lot of us don't have as much as we used to. We also seem to spend more time inside with TV, PC's and PS2's. I remember playing outside constantly as a kid; you hardly see anyone playing in the neighborhoods these days....

FROM: Chris from TX
DATE: Tuesday March 7, 2006 -- 2:20:52 pm
Oh, forgot to mention something cool that I heard from a past client. They live in a newer neighborhood and have been there about 6 years or so. One of the first neighbors on the street just started to introduce themselves to everyone as they came into the neighborhood.

The next thing they did was to start a night out one Sunday per month. Each neighbor decides where they want to eat out and those that can make it also attend. Whoever decides can also decide if its adults only or kids too. Anyway, they are up to well over 40 households that attend (although not all attend every time) with close to 100% participation from houses on the street (and from some adjacent streets).

Anyway, I thought this was a neat idea to socialize. This has expanded to where somebody is usually throwing a yard party at least once a month. The folks I talked to knew just about everybody in their neighborhood and vice-versa.

FROM: jk
DATE: Tuesday March 7, 2006 -- 10:47:40 pm
Chris from TX, do you think there's a link between the fact that kids used to play outside constantly and now there a huge childhood obesity problem? I for one do. I think moms were happier because they actually had some alone-time. Although when kids are at the computer, moms sure feel like they are alone.

I am having a rather large party on Saturday and invited a few neighbors, those I know the best, and the people right nextdoor have not yet RSVPd! Maybe they said "We hope to come" when I handed them the invite. I can't remember, and that surely is not the same as an official RSVP.

What is this then?

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