My family has lived here on the land for seven generations. I have several of the original land grant deeds dated in 1820 and ‘ceded from the creek and Cherokee Indian Nations’. My next door neighbors are a black family, the Eady’s, that has been here almost as long. They are in every sense, my neighbors. We do for each other because we trust each other and we each know how the other feels about life situations. We see each other on a deeper level than skin color. This is not to say we do not each have our own distinct cultural leanings because we do and nothing I know can change that, or should.
Like I said, we are neighbors. We do for each other. If they call me at three in the morning, I get up and go. If I call them at three in the morning, they come; neighbors.
One frosty morning around 5:30 my phone rang. It was Charlene, the matriarch of the next door clan. When I answered she blurted out, “Ken, somebody done stole our car.”
“I’m coming,” I answered.
Upon arriving at the scene, the whole family, there’s anywhere from 8 to 12 head at any given time, were standing under the carport and milling around in excited confusion.
“What happened?” I asked.
I was informed that, “ Marilyn had gone out and cranked up the car so it would be warm when we set out to work at 6:00 a.m. and when we came out to get in the car, the car be gone.”
Donning my Sherlock Holmes hat, I inspected the surroundings and could plainly see a set of car tracks in the white frost covering the grass and leading out from under the carport. The tracks went under the clothes line, right under the frozen sheets hanging there. I walked around the frozen clothes and looked. It was downhill slightly all the way across a pasture to the big lake about a quarter mile distant. I saw the car sticking out from the lake with just the back end up on the hill, the exhaust still putting out fumes in the cold air.
“Yonder’s your car, way down there in the lake.”
The whole covey of Eadys came running to see what I was talking about and, upon seeing their car sticking out of the lake, started giggling and slapping their knees.
“Lord Jesus! What happened,” Charlene exclaimed!
It was plain to me that Marilyn had cranked up the old jalopy thinking it was in neutral but was in drive instead. As soon as the transmission fluid warmed up, it eased out from under the carport and went straight downhill into the lake. I soon had it fished out, still running, and them on the belated way to work.
It is things like this that make neighbors a family. They still like for me to mention this, and many other incidents that happened in years past, at the family reunions. We still get a big kick out of them.
Yes, I’m always invited to the reunion. I’m family, and proud of it.