From Yesterday To Today: The Loss of Community - LetterPile - Writing and Literature
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From Yesterday To Today: The Loss of Community

How It Works

If you’ve read previous articles in the “Yesterday To Today” series, you know how this works. I transport you back to the 1960s, back to Tacoma, Washington, back to the home I grew up in. From there we take a look at what I believe was a simpler time, back where more importance, I believe, was placed on moral principles, back where I learned how to live a life of love.

Thanks for joining me. Step into my time machine and let’s begin today’s journey.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

The Neighborhood Back Then

I’ve written before about the neighborhood I grew up in, the neighborhood I spent twenty years in, from age five to age twenty-five. It was such a simple neighborhood and yet remarkable in its simplicity. It had such a profound effect on me, so profound that even today, fifty years later, I still remember the names – the Mertz family, the Langston family, Mr. and Mrs. Witherspoon, Streitz, Auley, Zetterberg, Todd, Hoffman, Norlin, Mazda, Gordon, Lilly, Faucet, and my childhood friends, Ron, Bob, Karl, Mikey, Jackie, Richard, Smokey, Billy, their faces etched in my memories, the adventures vivid, forever with me, and I find that amazing, so many years separating us.

It was a post-war neighborhood, built to accommodate the thousands of soldiers returning home from World War 2, my dad one of them. We arrived in that neighborhood about five years after it was designed and built, so new it was that the streets were still dirt, the landscaping not yet done, just a street with homes on it, the yards designated by stakes in the ground showing boundaries. The first summer, when the wind blew, the neighborhood would mimic the Dust Bowl of the 30’s. My first memory of that neighborhood, upon arrival, was one of dread.

I was wrong!

New porch and much different view

New porch and much different view

Other Features of That Neighborhood

There was a small neighborhood store two blocks up from our home, run by Mrs. Fields, a house, really, with a store in what would have been her living room, her living quarters in the back of the store. A war widow, Mrs. Fields was a gentle, loving woman, Wiggles, her dog, her constant companion.

Two blocks in the opposite direction was the Muntz Meat Market, run by the Brothers Muntz, two veterans back from the war, meat-cutters by trade.

And five blocks north, to the very outer limits of “the neighborhood,” was the Proctor Retail District which included a Dime Store, a bowling alley, dry cleaners, library, two restaurants, hardware store, drug store, barbershop, and a couple other businesses I no longer remember.

And that is where I spent my childhood and teen years, riding my bike all around, and then driving my car all around, exploring and interacting and becoming one with.

But what I just described is really a Twitter description of it, twenty years of memories stuffed into the “280 characters” summary, and that summary simply will not do. There was so much more to that neighborhood than a “fast food” description.

There were no privacy fences in that old neighborhood....there are today where we live.

There were no privacy fences in that old neighborhood....there are today where we live.

A Few Examples

Mr. Gordon, painting his house, neighbors stopping by, grabbing brushes, and pitching in.

A neighbor in need of childcare? There was no such thing as childcare back then. The child in question would just go over to a neighbor’s house and stay there until his/her parents came home. Problem solved.

Wonder where your child is as dusk approaches? Not to worry. The Neighborhood Block Watch was on duty 24/7. It was virtually impossible for a child to “hide out” in our neighborhood. There was always a pair of eyes on you, or ten pair, as you played and walked about.

Dad barbecuing out back, calls out to Mr. and Mrs. Lerum, come on over, we’ve got more than we can eat, and the Lerums bring a salad and some cookies, impromptu party as the stars erupted in the sky and the crickets set a comfortable mood for all.

Grab a ball, a bat, and a glove, step outside, off the porch, go to the side lot, toss the ball up in the air once, twice, three times, and suddenly five kids are there ready for a “pick-up” game.

Mrs. Todd sick, down and out with the flu, neighbors walking into her house, carrying food for the Todd family, bringing magazines for Mrs. Todd to read, doing for one that which all would do for all.

Sitting on the porch, looking out on a fine summer evening, saying hello ten, fifteen times, as neighbors walk by, everyone knowing everyone, a feeling like a warm comforter spreading over you, you know?

Me running up to Mrs. Field’s store, her knowing my name, same with the Muntz brothers, hi Bill, how ya doing, how’s your mom and dad, good to see you, Bill, and the Proctor District, pretty heady stuff, a kid of ten being greeted by shop owners, me just a snot-nose, not knowing much at all, but feeling important as the adults of that District embraced me as one of them.

And the night my dad died, cold-ass January night, the next day they were all there, providing comfort, sharing tears, giving me and my mom the strength we needed to limp through life.

I’ve got a million of them, memories of those twenty years, all true, all meaningful.

Time Marches On

I moved out of that Shangrila when I was twenty-five. Within three years I was married, off on new adventures, eventually owning twelve different homes, spent time in Vermont, in Alaska, in Oregon, finally back to Washington, Olympia my home for the last thirty years, longer than that childhood neighborhood, but not nearly as memorable.

And it dawns on me now, in my seventy-first year, that what I miss most about that old neighborhood was the sense of community. I belonged back then and, truthfully, I haven’t felt like I belonged since, and that’s remarkable, you know, the countless neighborhoods I’ve lived in since 1973, the countless neighbors since then, and not once have I felt like I was part of something bigger and more important than me. Today, in this city I’ve called home for three decades, it’s “hi, how ya doing?” or “nice day, aint’ it?” and then move on, nothing more, sometimes less, not even knowing the last name of these people I call neighbors, and who the hell is to blame for that?

I am an introvert by nature but I swear, I’ve taken introvert to a brand new level as I’ve grown older, isolating at times, unable, or unwilling, to reach out and become that which I miss so much, and I find that sad. And I look around, at the gated “communities,” and the fenced and walled yards, the look of suspicion on the faces of those I pass during my daily walks, and I think maybe I’m not the only one who feels that way, social media now the way of the present, surface relationships for millions, a distinct lack of commitment, and I find that sad as well. God how I miss that old neighborhood. God how I miss that sense of community.

Change in Inevitable

I know that to be true, and some change is wonderful but, true also, some change is not progress. I despise generalizations, but it seems to me that this tendency to isolate is an epidemic which threatens to swallow us all and erode something which is terribly important, you know? People need people. We are pack animals. We were designed to communicate, to interact, to problem-solve, and to love, and none of those tasks are accomplished when barriers are erected between us.

My wife and I have recently become interested in a social movement called “intentional communities.” Think the 21st Century equivalent of a commune, if you will, same principle but modified a bit, people coming together to live in an area, working together, sharing meals together, helping each other, governing together, and by God, with each passing day, that idea has more appeal to me.

Is it possible to construct a neighborhood like the one I left in 1973? Is it possible to regain that which was lost?

I want to believe it is and, if it is possible, the work begins with me.

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

H.O.W. (Humanity One World)

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 24, 2020:

Oh, I understand completely, Brenda. That's why I want to start the community and be a major part in making the rules. lol I don't want to eat with others every single day. I would be a crazy man!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on September 24, 2020:

Bill,

I miss the good ole days too. Although I grew up in Ohio in a small village it sounds alot like the place you lived.

Everyone knew each other. I used to be upset when i was a kid becsuse everyone knew your business...the eyes were always watching but I guess us kids were lucky.

We could ride our bikes anywhere without adult supervision.

The familiar faces & stores brought back many memories. We had the hardware king, the furniture castleowner, a friendly meat & grocery store. The post master. One gas station, etc.

The point is we knew each of them personally. It was a nice feeling.

I miss those days of kicking back on the porch also.

Neighbors today hardly speak to one another & the time of comfort when someone loses a loved one gas gone out the window.

But i do confess I still take food to houses when a loved one departs...just how I am.

Small town gal with values.

I wish you success in your gatherings. I myself though still like to have a bit of private time.

Sharing a meal once in a while is great but I wouldn't do it everyday.

The socializing like the ole days would be great but this old world seems a little too messed up.

I mean...i dont believe I want to eat dinner with a few of my neighbors...the ones who have no compassion for others to get sleep making noise all hrs of the night.

Have a great day.

As always...a great write.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 21, 2020:

Dream we can, Zulma! Cornwall sounds lovely, and I would definitely love to see it, so I'll start dreaming now and see what happens. :)

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 21, 2020:

Same here, Bill. I can totally see Bev and my husband getting on like a house on fire. They're both friendly, kind and caring people.

Also, I would love showing you both Cornwall. Easily one the most beautiful regions here. Beautiful landscapes and so much art and history.

We can dream, right?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 20, 2020:

I hope you do write about it, Dora! I look forward to that article, my friend.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 20, 2020:

"Some change is wonderful but, true also, some change is not progress." Your article brought back memories of my old neighborhood, which has totally disappeared although there are still houses where some of the old ones were. Sense of community missing too. I'm challenged to write about my experience. Thanks!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 19, 2020:

That made me laugh, Zulma. You and I have some striking similarities. Wish you didn't live so damned far apart. Bev and I would thoroughly enjoy visiting with you.

It's raining!!!!! I've never been so happy to see rain in my life. We can breathe outside!!!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 19, 2020:

I love it, Lawrence. I would love to visit New Zealand. It's not going to happen, but a guy can always daydream, right?

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 19, 2020:

It wasn't all bad, Bill. The upside: it forced me to become self-reliant and not need anyone.

The downside: it forced me to become self-reliant and not need anyone.

Enjoy the weekend, Bill.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on September 18, 2020:

Bill

I'm pretty sure the question was rhetorical, but I'll answer anyway!

I suspect it's because of a strong emphasis on 'Whanau' (extended family pronounced Fanau) and Iwi (tribe) coming from the Maori influence.

It goes back to what the nation was founded on, a treaty treating both parties as equals.

The White man didn't do too well in that respect, but the last thirty or so years both sides have worked together to sort things out.

I think it's brought huge benefits to us all that far outweighed the financial cost.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 18, 2020:

We are all one indeed, Mr. Happy! How many people in the city of my childhood? 150,000...but the particular neighborhood was maybe 100 people total, and that was the community I knew the best. I think we came together originally because we all moved there at about the same time, shortly after World War 2 ended, and it was the first home most of us owned. That formed a bond of sorts, that and the fact that most of the people were from small towns in the Midwest originally, and they were all accustomed to living in friendly neighborhoods.

Anyway, we may not see that type of community on a large scale ever again. I hope I'm wrong in that.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 18, 2020:

Thank you for sharing that, Mary! I totally agree with your last sentence. It is up to us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 18, 2020:

Sha, I can't imagine being a military kid. My goodness, that must have been hard, making all of those adjustments during your formative years.

You are correct, of course. I can start by making changes in our current neighborhood. Ultimately, what happens depends on my willingness to change it.

love,

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 18, 2020:

Lora, thanks so much for sharing your experience, and I like your new profile pic.

I don't know why we have allowed things to become the way they have become. I don't know if we all just became too busy, or we became too afraid, or what? I do know I have to accept part of the blame, and I know I would like to regain those days of a close-knit community. I just wonder if it is possible.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 18, 2020:

Isn't that amazing, Linda! I wonder why that is. What you described is described by almost everyone who thinks back to their childhood. What happened to us?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 18, 2020:

Lori, I forgot about that shoe repair store. I remember where it was now that you mention it. I don't think I ever went into that store, but I sure remember it. And there was a hardware store in the District too if I remember correctly. And the bowling alley is still there. It was once called Proctor Bowling Alley, but the name changed to Chalet Bowl.

Why nostalgic? I think it's just a thing with us old people, not that you are old, but it's starting to rub off on you. lol Bittersweet for sure, my friend.

Blessings to you as well, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 18, 2020:

That's interesting, Lawrence. I wonder why that is? I'm sure I would love NZ.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 18, 2020:

Thanks for sharing, Devika. I went back to the old neighborhood last year. It looked the same, but I suspect it was not as friendly as it once was.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 18, 2020:

Zulma, I believe you; it's just hard for me to imagine, with my background, that people grew up without any sense of community. Sheez, I would have been a lost puppy in a different environment.

Happy Friday, my friend.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on September 18, 2020:

"The child in question would just go over to a neighbor’s house and stay there until his/her parents came home." - "It takes a village to raise a child" is the saying, right?

"Dad barbecuing out back, calls out to Mr. and Mrs. Lerum, come on over, we’ve got more than we can eat" - Haha!! That's such a western world problem: having too much food to eat. I never knew that concept growing up. Now, it happens to me all the time. It happened this past week at least twice, when I was cooking in the forest too lol

"the look of suspicion on the faces of those I pass during my daily walks" - And You're not even black. Imagine if You were. I do make the most out of my white privilege. Gonna have to write on this soon I think (me not You lol but You can if You want too).

"God how I miss that sense of community." - How many people did your town have when growing up? I suspect not that many and that's where the issue lies: the more people in a town and/or city, the more difficult it is to know everyone. And for some reason, for many people when they do not know someone, the feeling of "I don't give a shit about them" settles in. Not for me so, it is very difficult to understand that mind-state but I see it all the time: "if it's not my family, or friends, who gives a fuck about them" attitude. That indeed puzzles me. I suppose it is a lack of empathy, understanding, compassion ... somewhere around there but it ain't healthy for societies. At this point, we need to pass the "my village/my family" perception and realize that we are one specie of animals (Homo sapiens), living on one planet: Earth. We are all One.

All the very best to You!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 18, 2020:

We have a bit of this in our cottage community but it is minimal, limited to the families who have lived there for more than 60 years. In my old hometown, I hardly know the younger ones, but a bit of that community is still there. The other day, we had dinner with a couple, and the husband asked me about my previous life and what I missed about it, and I readily responded, it is the sense of community. We need to invest more to make it happen.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 18, 2020:

Bill, I envy those who spent their childhoods and most of their lives in one town. As an Air Force brat, I didn't have that luxury. Friends and community were temporary and ever-changing when I was growing up. It's made me adaptable, but perhaps a bit stand-offish at the same time.

I've lived in Florida now for forty four years, but not in one town all that time. However, my son and I have lived in Longwood all of his life. He has friends he's known since he was in diapers and I have wonderful neighbors who are also friends. We have a little community of which you speak within a three house radius. We know on whom we can depend and enjoy each others company as well.

Intentional communities sounds interesting but I think that would be too much togetherness for me. I don't mind sharing and I do share when I have more than I need, but "what's yours is mine and what's mine is yours" sounds a bit dictatory to me. I need my space and don't always feel sociable. But to each his own. I know you and Bev will make the right decision. In the meantime, if it's the community vibe of yesteryear you miss, be a pioneer. Make little changes, such as inviting neighbors over for tea or lemonade rather than the cursory "howdy-do" when you pass them on the street. Reach out. Draw them in. Build it and they will come.

Love,

Sha

Lora Hollings on September 18, 2020:

Bill, I love the way you open up to your readers in your writing. It's warm, it's inviting, and it's so sincere. You take us all back there with you to your lovely neighborhood where people seemed to genuinely care for one another and they really seemed to understand the importance of being part of a community. You are so right when you say, that it's nice to feel that you are part of something bigger than yourself. It reminds me of a line in a song by the folk duo, Kings of Convenience, (who wrote some really great songs) "what we build is bigger than the sum of two, three, four or five..." I find this to be so true. We are social creatures by nature and yet we have become so isolated from one another. How can we find happiness or fulfillment in that? I can really relate to what you're saying, as I've moved around so much in my life and lived in so many neighborhoods too. And the one I'm currently living in, I swear that I might as well be living on the moon, because no one here knows me at all and I don't know any of them either! I haven't felt truly a part of any community since I was a child growing up in a small town neighborhood where people knew me by name, my parent's names, my sisters and even my pets. They also knew what grade I was in and would ask, how was my day at school? How I miss those days and how I wish I could go back to that era. I couldn't agree more with you, Bill. We must somehow build those kind of communities, again, for our own good!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 17, 2020:

Your childhood/young adult neighborhood sounds wonderful, Bill. I enjoyed living in the neighborhood where I grew up. It wasn't quite as close-knit as yours was, but it was certainly a friendlier community than the ones in which I lived later and the one in which I live today. I've had acquaintances wherever I've lived, but they've been nothing like the friendships of my childhood and teenage years.

Lori Colbo from Pacific Northwest on September 17, 2020:

Bill, I love reading these nostalgic stories. We lived so close to each other. I lived on 34th and Steven's. I got all my school supplies at the dime store, got my school shoes at the shoe store there on Proctor, not to mention every Saturday at the movie theater. Do you remember Stan's drive-in? Always at the library, my favorite place in the world. We had a corner store too. Mrs. Griffin's or Griffith, I can't remember which. A little house, as you described. She was such a character I put her in my HP story Gita the little pearl. I rode my bike for miles around the north end all the time. You have a few years on me but I wonder if we ever crossed paths. I don't remember the bowling alley but I'm sure it was there.

I remember all those neighborhood characters too. Life isn't like that anymore. I love where I live. This is a small community, and I have scads of friends. We have a lot of community things always going on and it's great. A lot of characters we all know and love (or tolerate, lol), and I live in a small neighborhood. My neighbors at the moment are nice but we rarely interact other than to say hello or stop to gab on rare occasions. Just not the same. Why do we get so nostalgic when we get old?

I don't feel that not belonging, but I do feel strange inside when I think of my years growing up in Tacoma. Nostalgia is so bittersweet.

Blessings to you dear Bill. Thanks for all the memories.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on September 17, 2020:

Bill

Thanks for the walk around the neighbourhood, it was nice meeting all the people.

I think the NZ of today has a lot more in common with the America or Britain of the 1950s than their modern counterparts!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 17, 2020:

Rajan, honestly, I don't see this trend changing. I only see things getting worse until something happens which is so horrendous we will have no choice but to work with one another.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 17, 2020:

Fascinating, Flourish! I am the first to admit I lived in a fantastic place at a fantastic time. No way do I think it was the norm, and I'm grateful for the experience.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 17, 2020:

Exactly, Bill! It's a trend which shows no inclination to change, although I sure think we need to reverse it soon.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 17, 2020:

Thank you John! Not bad for an amateur!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 17, 2020:

Alan, it's hard to believe it's the same planet, yes? Privacy has replaced friendliness. People seem to be reluctant to even make eye contact in many places. I find that profoundly sad, my friend.

Thanks for sharing. Your timeline sounds about right. It did start to change for the worse in the late 60's around here as well.

I miss it and now it's all about adjusting and surviving.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 17, 2020:

I love that you think so, Nithya! Thanks for sharing your memories and your optimism.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 17, 2020:

A hug would be nice, Audrey! I'm a big time hugger, and it seems strange not to even shake hands with people now, you know? Of course you do.

Hang in there, my friend. We'll make it through.

love,

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 17, 2020:

It was my pleasure, Alison! Thanks for reading.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 17, 2020:

For sure, Pamela. I wonder how many miles I logged on that bike of mine? Thousands, I'll bet!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 17, 2020:

Bill what was no longer exists in many communities. I know that from experience as well. Memories from them days are all we have in comparison to the life by now. Everything changed in my place been back four times and it no longer is the same So much to relate to here.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 17, 2020:

Thank you Rosina! Maybe one day you can experience it. I think you would like it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 17, 2020:

I hope so too, Liz! I think maybe we all could use a bit more of it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 17, 2020:

John, it's encouraging that you've heard of intentional communities. :) As for nicknames, that's where Billybuc comes from, from my childhood.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 17, 2020:

I do enjoy listening to your porch side reminiscences. They speak of a side of life I only ever saw on TV shows. It wasn't till I travelled that I realised these places actually existed in real life and not just in the imagination of a scriptwriter.

We didn't have a sense of community where I grew up, so I don't pine for the 'good, old days.' Still, I think I would have liked it.

Have a good day, Bill.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 17, 2020:

Time has moved at a tangent to times of yore and I am certain it's a global reality. Feelings and relationships are not the same anymore and the likes of us who have seen those times will certainly miss them. Can we bring back the Golden days? Seems we can just wish for them..

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 16, 2020:

I lived in a small town from middle school onwards and also moved around the country with a corporate job that put me in small communities for awhile. I don’t have the same rose-colored recollections. Not at all. Although there were some positives, the tight-knit communities were very insular, hard to break into and be accepted no matter how long you had been there, people didn’t stay in their lane but instead gossiped like mad and jumped to conclusions, they were unwelcoming of diverse perspectives or values. As much as I sometimes want to do it myself, you can’t go back. You can only move forward.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on September 16, 2020:

Life is just totally different today. I don’t think it’s necessarily better. When I grew up we knew everyone in the neighborhood and people actually talked to one another. Today, we barely know the people next door. No wonder so many people feel alone in this world.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on September 16, 2020:

Oh, the new porch looks great!

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on September 16, 2020:

Don't I know about it, Bill. I've lived in so many different environments i've lost track - on Teesside in the north of England, Scarborough (ditto), several different areas of Vienna then back to 'Blighty' (England) where I lived on the edge of Nottingham (Robin Hood country!), different parts of London from SW to SE, West and East. Somehow I can't believe I've been in one house in an area that was once marshland on the edge of Epping Forest.

The communities have been different, some friendly, some marginally hostile or indifferent, always private with a capital 'P'. They didn't need Rottweilers to guard their properties.

The area I first lived in, in the shadow of Teesside's steel, ship and chemical producing sites, was thoroughly working class: rows of terraced houses with back yards in a large rectangular market square close to the works that produced steel for Sydney Harbour Bridge and one of the San Francisco bridges in the first half of the 20th Century. People recall that time as, "We could leave our back doors open and go to the shops and nobody would steal from us". That was because no-one had anything worth stealing. It changed from the 1950s into the 1960's with mass unemployment, railways and works being closed. Then you had to lock your doors because there was always someone had more than his/her neighbour. The 'have-nots' grew in number, car wheels went missing, the cars left on bricks, old folk unsafe in their homes and weak-kneed judges unwilling to send thieves to jail. Now there's druggies as well, and any number willing to supply their needs. It's a downward spiral for some. Thankfully not in the area I live in, although there are problems besides Covid-19.

Yup Bill, the world's turned flat, let's hope it doesn't tilt.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on September 16, 2020:

I can totally relate to this, the neighborhood I grew up in was similar to yours. We knew each other and if we needed help we had wonderful neighbors who would come in a jiffy to assist us. The neighborhood was safe and we could go out and enjoy playing till the sun sets. I still believe that we can bring back those days if we all make an effort to reach out.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on September 16, 2020:

We are living in a terrible time. How much more can we endure? California is being crucified. This is my birthplace...i grew up here...now there is little similarity. California is in a crises...covid...the whole state burning. And all i want is a hug. I havent felt the human touch for a long time. Im alone. Or at least thats how it feels. I long for the old days...the innocense...the simplicity. Awe gee, sweet Bill, me thinks a can of worms has been opened. I only meant to say how much i love this article.

Love,

Audrey

Alison Monroe on September 16, 2020:

Thanks for writing this, Bill

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 16, 2020:

I recently read an article about intentional communities and sure sound interesting. I think that might be a great way to live. Your childhood is much like mine. We weren't on the computer playing video games as we were outside playing and getting exercise. I enjoyed reading this article, Bill.

Rosina S Khan on September 16, 2020:

I have heard stories of neighborhoods and communities from my parents but never really experienced myself. The stories are similar to you, Bill and so I know what points you are trying to make.

Liz Westwood from UK on September 16, 2020:

You make some interesting points in this thoughtful and thought-provoking article. Community is not as it used to be in the UK also. Whether it can be regained in some way is an interesting question. I hope so.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2020:

Thanks for your thoughts, Ann. Is it possible? I've seen some videos of these communities which are working quite well. One in Missouri with 70 people, one in Virginia with over 200...all viable communities in the true sense of the word.

But for every one that makes it there are surely dozens which don't. It's hard, I think, to share the concept of true community with someone who has never experienced it.

Anyway, more research is needed. Take care, my friend, and thank you!

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2020:

Thanks for sharing that, Denise. I suspect the point you make is valid today and will be valid tomorrow. People just aren't very good at meeting responsibilities and walking the talk, I'm afraid. Then there's my wife Bev, who simply does not know how to say "no" to anyone asking for help. She's the other end of the spectrum.

Blessings always, my friend

bill

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on September 16, 2020:

I enjoyed this, Bill, and the sense of nostalgia it evoked. Yes, I too miss the sense of community that I remember as a child. The first street I lived on Watt Street, Redcliffe, for about the first eight years of my life. Most of the kids from the street walked to and from school together about two miles each way. I used to go next door to the Faraday’s to watch their black and white TV before my mom and dad bought one.

The people in the corner store, butcher, bakery etc all new our names. Yes, we called our friends by their surnames or gave each other nicknames.

My wife and I have also considered “intentional communities” a number of times, just never made the move for some reason.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2020:

Heidi, the lawn chair story had me howling. I don't blame you, I would do the same thing; still, it's funny. I would be afraid people would steal the lawn chairs. lol Thanks for sharing that. You made my day.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2020:

There you go, Linda! That's a solution that makes sense to me.

Ann Carr from SW England on September 16, 2020:

They say never go back, bill, and I think that's true to a certain extent. But if you can make something which still has that sense of community then that's a wonderful project.

I know exactly what you mean - my childhood was very similar to yours - new construction, a dirt road at first, good neighbours and oh such a happy time. I walked to school, home for lunch, and I cycled round the countryside with my mates until tea time. No one worried as there was always someone who knew us. I do miss it, sometimes uncontrollably. It has much to do with family too. One's roots remain for ever what we are made of; I think that's why we never feel the same about a place again (if we had good roots, that is). I love going 'home' but it's not the same now (unless I go and stand on top of the Downs which remain as they were millennia ago).

Community; caring, sharing people, is what makes the world go round. I hope you manage to create something which makes you 'belong' once more.

This has made me feel nostalgic but also warm and fuzzy at the edges - thanks for taking me back there for a while, bill!

Ann

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on September 16, 2020:

I know what you are talking about. When I was suddenly a single mom in 1978, I was very interested in the commune-like proposal of the ladies in my church. They wanted to create a co-op where if anyone needed a babysitter they could just call and drop off kids and then reciprocate when needed. I loved the idea and volunteered to babysit anyone in need with the idea that I could do the same when my need arrived. I just of babysat a dozen children on about 6 different occasions before I wanted the favor returned. I had an appointment and started calling all the mothers I had sat for but not one was available. I ended up using my mother (who didn't appreciate being a babysitter for some reason). The second time it happened that no one was available for me I realized that a co-op only works if everyone is willing. It wasn't fair that I was the only one willing and everyone else was selfish about it. I gave up on the idea and never babysat for them for free again. Sad failed experiment. I wish it weren't like this. Maybe that is the root of the problem. We have become a selfish and cynical society who are only out for #1. I do remember the early 70's communities though and I miss them too.

Blessings,

Denise

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on September 16, 2020:

Well, I grew up in Chicago. And while our neighbors were usually nice people, there was zero community in the couple of neighborhoods I lived in. It was everyone for themselves. For example, when we would shovel out our street-parked cars from the snow, we'd mark territory with lawn chairs or other big items if we drove away. We shoveled it out and it's ours, dammit! I think that explains it.

Once I moved to the burbs and had dogs, I now have a bit of that small town-ish environment, though not to the caring level you experienced. We all pretty much keep to ourselves, but we're all friendly and I do have some neighbor friends.

I miss in-person interaction... well, sort of. I miss it with certain people. But most of my "community" is now online with a meeting of minds.

I can't get nostalgic about the 60s and 70s, even though I lived in them and am fascinated by them. It seems like a history book account.

Glad you had such a positive community experience to share!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 16, 2020:

Maybe next time I should just invite you and Bev. I know you'd show up.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2020:

That's amazing, Linda! I have thought of organizing a block party; maybe I shouldn't even bother. The result would probably be the same as you experienced.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2020:

Yes, Peggy! We had priests come to our house for dinner. Doc Larkin would stop by if we were sick. It's just the way it was and probably never will be again.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2020:

Same here, Eric! First names were a mystery in our neighborhood, especially with adults. And we always called our buddies by their last name...just did...no idea why. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2020:

Thank you Louise! I have some theories why we have moved away from this type of community, but I don't know for sure if I'm correct.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 16, 2020:

Bill, I'm with you 100 percent. I can walk into my next door neighbor's homes and I know where everything is. But that's it. Just two neighbors (one on each side). Beyond that, I don't even know the names.

We've tried several times (pre-COVID) to have a block party. We've sent welcome notes to neighbors to join us at the fire pit. Bring a beverage and we'll furnish the graham crackers and marshmallows, that sort of thing, and no one shows up.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 16, 2020:

Those were the good old days! I remember them well, although we lived in the country and did not have as many people living nearby as you did. There were no fences. People knew one another better and helped out when needed. Doctors made house calls! So did Father Whelan. He personally knew all of his parishioners. Your dream of returning to those days is a pleasant one.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 16, 2020:

I am behind you by a few but I was raised in a town of only 12,000 and 150 miles from any big city. In just a few I could walk across town at a leisurely pace.

Boy do I miss the space in time.

Funny I cannot remember as many first names as lasts. Mr. and Mrs. was there first name. Hmmm, same for me today. And we called our buddies by last name too. Never thought about that.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on September 16, 2020:

Change isn't always good. It's the same where I live in the UK, the community spirit isn't like it used to be. I remember the days you speak of well. They were good days they were. It would be nice to think that those days would come back. I did love the community spirit back then.