Log Cabin Chronicles


Neighbors

FRANCES BEVENCY ERRION

The first home I remember was situated beside a gravel road. A mile up that road was the paved highway to the city. Down the other way, the road fell away at steep intervals to the river road, which also led to the city.

There were two families living near us. The Kents, Clifford and Lou, had one child, a boy, born very late in their lives. The Coburns, Frank and Nettie, had no children. Nettie and Lou were sisters and when I first remember them they were already bent and white-haired. Both women were small and neat and wore their tightly braided hair wound around their heads. Both sisters were staunch members of WCTU (Women's Christian Temperance Union).

Lou was quiet, spent her time sewing, cooking, and canning, and on occasion visiting. Nettie was the more outgoing pink-cheeked, round and bustling. She was happiest listening in on the party-line telephone. Actually, it was a necessity that she listen in because she wrote a local news column in the weekly newspaper and needed lots of gossip.

Coburn's kitchen was equipped with a hand pump at the sink and a wonderful hand soap (which I later learned was Lava soap). Nettie's household was plagued with ants throughout the long summer. Her solution was to leave an open jar of jelly sitting on the kitchen table to catch them. When a great number had accumulated, she would take that jar outside and dump it and then place a new jar on the table.

Frank was spry and full of good humor. He was bent from long years of manual work. He was seldom without his pipe and in his later years an enormous cancer grew where the pipe sat. He kept his whiskey in the barn, considering Nettie's strong prohibition leanings.

His leisure time was spent puttering about and making little things for his yard. He constructed a small fishpond of cement with a little bridge reaching from one side to the other. In the middle of the bridge he cemented in a miniature pick-up truck. How disappointing it was for me to learn the truck could never run freely in the dirt but was forever stuck in its cement moorings.

Frank lived into his nineties. A neighbor lady driving past his home on the day he died stopped to learn who was ill, as the dooryard was filled with cars.

"Frank died this morning," said Lou, then added in a forbidding tone, "it was the drink that killed him."

Fran Errion writes in Buskirk, New York.


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Copyright © 2003 Frances Errion/Log Cabin Chronicles/05.03