Good Neighbors or Not

11554035_sMany years ago, I lived in this wonderful neighborhood in Queens, New York. I went to school from there, visited with my friends who lived across the street, or up the block, there. All of us teenagers grew, and the parents aged, but no one left home. What I mean is, we were all one big family – the two or three block vicinity bonded. When the people across the street forgot sugar or flour at the market, they had only to cross the street and knock on my door, or go to the house next to them. I may have mentioned this before, but when summer arrived the entire area threw a block party, put on by everyone. I grew up having dinner with my friend’s folk, or at the house of my parent’s friends. Then, at any given time, we would switch houses. At New Year’s Eve one household, or the other would throw the party, but we all attended. Then, as we teenagers became adults and left home, the parents, and grandparents were left, still carrying on that “good neighbor” spirit. Yes, I remember a home, or two that may not have been included in the camaraderie, but for the most part we all looked out for each other.

When, I got married and moved to New Jersey, I found it to be a hemisphere away from what I knew in New York. The person next door may have said hello in passing, but if I forgot anything at the market, I’d just have to make another trip back. And, as far as the holidays; thank goodness for my relatives traveling out from New York, because if I waited for someone from across the street, I’d kind of still be waiting. Yes, life proved the total opposite end of the spectrum. In 1998 we moved from Morris County, New Jersey to East Brunswick, which is south of Morris County. Here, I had a “middle of the road” impression. In this area, attitudes were  halfway between denizens of New York and those of Morris County. I don’t know why they are friendlier in East Brunswick, but they are; as different as night and day. In fact, we supped at one or two houses, and shared Fourth of July festivities. In any event, everyone in both counties, although not as welcoming as New York, remained civil.

Why did I bring up this specific topic? Friday night’s episode of ABC’s 20/20 and Blogger Bob Borzatta’s “Neighbor From Hell.” As different as the three examples I mentioned above, I would seriously hate being in one of these subdivisions. In one particular locale – two homes across from an Alderwoman – the residents couldn’t have made a worse mistake in moving there. The Alderwoman called the police whenever they played loud music, or for working on cars in their driveway, and she had been seen measuring their grass with a ruler. In another state, someone went so far as to get a restraining order on a person. Why you ask? Because the supposedly good individuals made some kind of derogatory comment about the restrained mother’s daughter. From that moment forward, she became out of control. The restricted woman is a single mother, and not to take sides, but from what the network aired she appeared as one of those on the edge characters – someone ready to go off at any given moment. She actually had a “meltdown” when being interviewed by the reporter; filming literally came to a halt until she regained her composure. She draped obscene and insulting banners from her garage; pulled her dress up and shook her bottom at them – anything wild, or outrageous to so call, retaliate. The network, and the police knew of these happenings because the one being attacked, installed a surveillance camera in order to catch-all of her antics.

I must say, at an early age I learned from my grandmother to mind my business. I discovered this mostly by way of the best teacher ever – observation. I am well aware that part of my demeanor came directly from that bloodline. Her motto simply stated – if you stay out of everyone’s business then, they should stay out of your affairs. I have found through the years, however, that sometimes one cannot help him/her self. They don’t like the fact that you’re not causing any confusion, so they will, in the least, talk about you anyway. Somewhere along the way, I read of a website – Next Door dot com – where a person can log on and keep up with their neighborhood. It’s sort of like Facebook, only for subdivisions. I haven’t had the desire, or need to do so – motto remember? Although, I did take a look-see in writing this piece. But, it all makes me wonder, what’s happening to our world? All of it simply makes me miss those early days. I guess I could envision it as one of the five places I’ll meet in heaven, huh? How is the family across the street from you? Do you have a relationship with them?

Image courtesy of


ABC’s 20/20

Bob Borzatta Neighbor From Hell

Next Door dot com


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