Letter from the editor - Good neighbors make great friends

by Stephanie Fellenstein Published:

Cassel and Nova Higley lived next door to us when I was growing up.

To an 8-year-old, they seemed really old, but they were probably only in their early 70s. They were like my third set of grandparents.

They lived in a yellow house and drove yellow cars. Mr. Higley donated his beloved yellow MG to the Crawford Auto and Aviation Museum when he could no longer drive.

I remember warm, end-of-summer evenings when we would sit on their front porch steps. School had just started and they would ask me about my day, my teachers and my friends. Mrs. Higley, Cassel's second wife, would tease him about his legs when he wore shorts. She had soft, white hair that she would wear short with tight curls.

Sometimes they invited us over for dinner. My parents would spend the 20 minutes before we walked next door telling me and my brothers not to fight, touch anything, to sit quietly and say please and thank you.

The Higleys' house was awesome. There was a cuckoo clock in the family room and a shuffle board court painted on the basement floor. The best part of the visit was when we were allowed to go down there and try our hand at pushing the discs across the floor.

Mr. Higley also played the dulcimer. He would take it down from its place of honor and pluck the strings.

I'm not sure what we ate for dinner, but I remember that Mrs. Higley always made angel food cake for dessert.

When the snow would blow in, my brother and I would press ourselves against the window willing Mr. Higley to come out with his snowblower before my mom made us go out and shovel. It was a big, old-fashioned snow blower with chains on the wheels. Sometimes when he cleared the sidewalks he would lose a chain and we would help him search along his path to find it.

And each Christmas, we received a handmade Christmas card.

In the summer, Mr. Higley would plug in his electric lawn mower and we'd watch him walk back and forth making sure not to run over the cord. One summer when I was about 12, I was trying to earn some extra money and offered to mow his lawn. He plugged his lawn mower in and stood outside the whole time I mowed. I managed to wrap that cord around all the trees and bushes in the yard, but I never ran it over.

The Higleys moved to an assisted living facility when I was in high school. We would go visit them and they would treat us to dinner in the private dining room.

It was never the same though.

It has been 18 years since Mr. Higley passed away, and Mrs. Higley a few years before him, but I remember those days like they were just yesterday.

There is nothing better than a good neighbor.

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