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Over Coffee With Ellen

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NEIGHBOR HELPING –“No one neighbors anymore,” I was told recently.

We had been discussing recent news reports of horrific goings on in what seemed to be lovely neighborhoods. I commented that something like that wouldn’t happen in the north country, where neighbors visited one another in each other’s homes and knew one another and their needs and lent a helping hand when there was a need.

Those I was visiting with at that time disagreed, telling me that there were many areas where “no one neighbors.” I was shocked and thankful for the neighborhood I live in.

The unthinkable happened the end of last week. When I reached for a can of cat food Friday evening there was only that one can left. Normally there are at least a dozen cans of cat food in readiness on the lazy susan. Knowing our new feline friend Tigger, I knew we could never “run out” of cat food. My mind has been elsewhere the past few weeks.

There have been thoughts of dear friends and then thoughts that were required to turn cabbage, green tomatoes, peppers and onions into relish, beans that were in need of freezing for winter use and of course zucchinis in need of being transformed into bread for freezing. Sugar had been purchased and flour, too. Eggs were on the shopping list and mustard seed and vinegar, but cat food had not been.

It was Friday evening and a trip to Massena to purchase a can of cat food was not something I cared to do that evening. I called our neighbor Carole. In our neighborhood, if there is a problem neighbors are always there for you – last winter when it had snowed a great deal and we were visiting family, we arrived home to a plowed driveway. Our neighbor Keith had seen the drifts in our driveway and plowed it clear for our arrival.

And on Friday evening when I called our neighbor, she was there to save the day (at least for Tigger). She had a can of cat food and was willing to share with her feline neighbor. As I walked across the road I thought of the words heard earlier this summer “no one neighbors anymore” and I smiled – I felt sadness that there are some who don’t know or understand a neighbor lending a helping hand.

I am sure you remember me telling you about the marvelous example of neighbors lending a helping hand when we first moved to the north country, now nearly 50 years ago.

Yes, John, it is time to remember our dear neighbors when we moved to Bombay. We moved into a home on Townsend Road it was called then. We lived between the John Lenney family and the Fred Chase family. No one could have more wonderful neighbors.

The girls had made cookies for the new people next door. There was even an offer for us to use the washer and dryer at the Lenney home until ours was installed. There was always coffee on to be shared and the warmest visits between homes. After just a short time between these two amazing families we decided this was where we wanted to live and raise our family.

Yes, in Bombay the phrase “neighbor helping neighbor” still works and for that I am most grateful. Isn’t our north country neighborhood a marvelous place to live? I certainly think so. And if you happen to live in an area that now finds no one is being neighborly, perhaps you could be the one to share some homemade cookies – or donuts purchased at a nearby store. Let’s make sure the north country is a place where everyone “neighbors” once again.


TERRIFIC SERVICE – Last week I had been in Massena with friends. Since the clock showed us it was the lunch hour, we decided to have lunch together. We stopped at Nana’s for lunch on this day. We were greeted by the most amazing waiter. Before we had barely found our seat, our waiter Larry not only knew we should be waited upon, but he knew my friend’s name. He not only knew her first name, but her last as well (she had a name tag around her neck – yes, he was observant).

And then he knew my name – explaining when we questioned this feat, my friend had called me by name as I entered. On this day, Nana’s was a place where “everybody knew your name.”

Larry was the friendliest, most congenial waiter I think I have ever met. And his enthusiasm for each menu item was such fun. His descriptions of the specials of the day made me want to order them, even though they were not items I would ever order. His description with a “de-licious” added made me think perhaps I should try the special of the day.

We were served promptly and my coffee cup was kept filled – that is my indication of a good waiter or waitress. There was even a fun joke shared. A good joke, one even I could remember and re-tell.

My thanks to Larry this week who made us all smile and made our day much better for stopping. Yes, Massena is a marvelous place to visit friends, shop and enjoy lunch on a Thursday afternoon.


MARVELOUS VIEWING – What a terrific way to end a Sunday by watching my NY Jets win their second game this season. I have enjoyed watching rookie quarterback Geno Smith lead the team of enthusiastic players. I was delighted in the outcome - a 27-20 victory.

I am just grateful that Sanford T. Cook’s anniversary celebration had been earlier in the week. And I am grateful, too, that on this occasion Sandy and I didn’t watch Sunday Night Football together.


BIRTHDAY WISHES – Jeff McCallus at Hannaford’s will celebrate his birthday on Monday. He can usually be found in the front of the store. Take a moment this week as you shop and look for Jeff and wish him a very happy birthday. My thanks to Jeff and each one in the store for always making shopping at Hannaford’s such a pleasure.


THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK – Do something for somebody every day for which you do not get paid. Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)

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