Neighboring in Kouts

“If you are a good neighbor, your neighbor’s going to be a good neighbor.”

Produced by Rich Elliott with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives:

Transcript for Neighboring in Kouts

So we moved to Kouts in October of ‘67. We had very good neighbors, the Martins were across the street, Fishers were on the corner. And George Garlock and his brother who lived behind us. His brother Spud died that spring, and George was very, very lonesome. He was apprehensive about this family moving in with two small kids, but he just became another grandfather to them, and that was really my introduction to neighboring in Kouts.

You know, this is rural America. It’s small town, and back in those days, there were many more farms, the farms were smaller, and on these farms there were jobs that you couldn’t do by yourself, and so you became close with your neighbor, and you shared.

I’ll share one story with you about George Garlock. I mentioned earlier that he was lonesome. But he had a pool table in the basement, so at least one night a week I’d go over, and we’d shoot pool, and one night I asked him, “Do you miss not being on the farm?” And he said, “I only miss one thing.” I said, “What’s that?” He said, “Well, I always had a salt shaker on the windowsill in the barn, and I’d go out in the garden, and I’d get me a tomato and salt it down, and I just loved it.” He said, “That’s the only thing I miss.” I said, “Well, George, my yard’s too small to have a garden, but if we can dig up a corner of your yard, I’ll furnish the labor and the plants and the seeds if we can use your yard.” And he said, “You dig up as much as you want.”

So I dug it up. Well, you know how it is when you turn over sod, the first few years, it’s a battle. And I was out there on a Saturday, starting to plant, and he came along, and he said, “What are you doing?” And I said, “Well, I’m trying to plant some carrots.” He said, “You aren’t going to grow anything in there. This corner of the lot is where they dumped all the stuff during construction.” And he went on in the house, and my wife came out shortly after that, and she said, “I’m going up to the grocery store.” I said, “If they have a bunch of carrots up there with the greens on, bring me a bunch.” Which she did, and I planted them. And on Tuesday, I didn’t see George til Tuesday, he said, “You son of a gun, everybody I’ve told about those carrots wants some of that seed.”

That’s the way we went, back and forth. The next year, I put my tomato plants in, and I came out the next morning, and there’s a big plastic tomato hanging from one of those little plants. But that’s the kind of relationship it was. And I think, from my experience, if you are a good neighbor, your neighbor’s going to be a good neighbor.

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