By Joe Rector

How many of your neighbors do you know? How many meals have you shared? Have you been there for them when tragedy struck? Getting to know neighbors these days isn’t such an easy thing.

Our house was built in 1978. At that time, it only had a couple of bedrooms and bathrooms. Over the years, we’ve added rooms as our family grew. Now we are retired and still living in the same place, something that’s unusual in today’s world. One reason we are still here in Ball Camp is that our two-street neighborhood is about as good as we will find.

Many of the houses on our street have the same folks in them that were here when we moved in. I’ve become friends with them all. No, we aren’t bosom buddies, but we talk with each other frequently and wave as we pass in our cars. Over those years, we have watched each other’s children grow and move on to new lives and adventures. To hear that some of them are in their 40s shocks me because it doesn’t seem so long ago that they were all toddlers.

I used to walk Snoop every day through our neighborhood and met and got to know most folks who live in our little community. We’d share stories about what had happened on our own property or warn that thieves were making the rounds in places near us. Just sharing a few minutes with others always made my day a little better.

What endears us to each other is the fact that all of us are willing to help others in times of need. We will help with cutting a fallen tree or mowing a yard when a family is out of town. If an ambulance or fire truck drives through, we’re out the door and checking on the problem, not because we are nosy but because we care for each other. That kind of attitude and closeness continued to this place where we live.

More recently, many of those original neighbors have passed on. For the most part, the men of the household died, and their passing left women needing help sometimes. I especially miss Mr. And Mrs. Nelson. Their boys used to play football in our yard. When we moved in, Mr. Nelson was always there to help me with so many things. I especially remember when he taught me one winter the best way to burn a brush pile. He worked magic with a blower and some kerosene.

New neighbors have moved into several of the houses. I’ve made an effort to meet them and make them feel welcome. I also told them not to hesitate to ask for help when they needed it. The sounds of children once again can be heard. They ride bikes and play games outside, and just hearing their laughter leaves me longing for my own children when they were that age. I hope that these families settle in and make the houses their permanent homes. They can count on us old folks to be ready to carry on a conversation or pitch in to help complete a difficult task.

These days, new developments stack houses on top of each other; however, folks are so busy that they have little time to make a connection with those who live down the road and closer. I hope that homeowners will make it a priority of meeting people who live on their roads. The ties that they form and the relationships that develop are precious, and they make life brighter and more satisfying.