Community Spirit

I was born in a council house and there were quite a few young families on our estate and in our road. Next door there were 6 children, three older and three younger than me, three doors up there were two boys whose Mum used to cut everyone’s hair in her kitchen, and round the corner another four, all boys and little terrors as they were always getting into trouble.
I remember ‘aunties’ popping in for coffee or tea, or Mum going round once a week.
I suppose in a way it was the same as young Mums meeting up at various coffee houses on the High Street today, though I know my Mum and her friends wouldn’t have been able to afford that on a regular basis.

Mum had to go into hospital when I was about two and during the day, I was left with an ‘aunty’ who lived across the road. I guess my sister being five years older was at school.
Aunty smacked me because I didn’t get to the bathroom on time, though she was actually cleaning the outside toilet and I couldn’t climb the stairs to use the one indoors. It was the first thing I told my Mum when she came out of hospital so words were said, and luckily their friendship didn’t suffer.
Several times Mum would return the favour for others, though one in particular took full advantage, dropping her child off an hour or so before lunch and not collecting her until after 6.30pm, knowing Mum would have fed her two meals when our family ate. Whether this was because money was short in that household or the Mum liked to be free to enjoy herself  was never clear, but my Dad put his foot down as it happened too often and we didn’t have a lot to spare either. That friendship died and the family later moved away, especially when the mum could find no-one to mind her child for her Me time.

Times have changed though haven’t they. Childminders are expensive, though I understand there is financial help available from the government, but these days, everyone seems to have to be vetted when it comes to childcare and red tape prevents Mums doing each other little favours so that others can work part time or attend appointments etc as they did when I was a child. People now seem to keep themselves to themselves, and community spirit in a lot of places is a thing of the past.

Our neighbour was a godsend looking after Maggie when Hubby had his assessment. It was such a hot day, we could not have left her in the car for the duration, neither could we have left her at home on her own for several hours as she’s not used to it and howls.
When we were on the boat, the community spirit was like nothing I had ever experienced. It restored my faith in people after so called ‘friends ‘ we’d made when in the cottage didn’t have a good word to say for us after we’d been unable to be a convenience to them due to other commitments. The word No cost us a lot, especially in self esteem, but in hindsight, the problem didn’t lie with us but the fairweather people we had mistaken for friends.
We had several offers from people regarding Maggie, especially with our heart scares, my nose bleeds and later Humphrey, though I realise getting someone to look after a dog for a few hours is different to looking after a child.

But what happens to us in older age? Times when we need help in an emergency. Our neighbour has no family locally, and it was pure luck that she picked up the small card we had given her with our phone numbers on it. When her husband was rushed into hospital over the Whitsun Bank Holiday, she rang us and we dropped everything to go to her aid.
Since he passed away, we have continued to offer support and be on hand should she want company. She doesn’t drive, so I take her shopping should she need anything bulky (or I get it for her) and if we’re going on a field trip which doesn’t involve vets, doctors or dentists, we invite her to join us.
It’s just the way we are, but there is similar support around us which I think in today’s age, is wonderful.

About pensitivity101

I am a retired number cruncher with a vivid imagination and wacky sense of humour which extends to short stories and poetry. I love to cook and am a bit of a dog whisperer as I get on better with them than people sometimes! In November 2020, we lost our beloved Maggie who adopted us as a 7 week old pup in March 2005. We decided to have a photo put on canvas as we had for her predecessor Barney. We now have three pictures of our fur babies on the wall as we found a snapshot of Kizzy, my GSD when Hubby and I first met so had hers done too. On February 24th 2022 we were blessed to find Maya, a 13 week old GSD pup who has made her own place in our hearts. You can follow our training methods, photos and her growth in my blog posts. From 2014 to 2017 'Home' was a 41 foot narrow boat where we made strong friendships both on and off the water. We were close to nature enjoying swan and duck families for neighbours, and it was a fascinating chapter in our lives. We now reside in a small bungalow on the Lincolnshire coast where we have forged new friendships and interests.
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7 Responses to Community Spirit

  1. fransiweinstein says:

    I also remember a real spirit of community from my childhood. Everyone did help everyone out, all the kids played together, we were constantly in and out of each other’s houses. It was really nice and gave you a real sense of security. We took it for granted, it was just the way it was. I feel sorry for people today who have no idea what that was like.

  2. Paula Light says:

    My mom was like that wherever she went, always neighborly, introducing herself and trying to help. Sometimes people took advantage, like you described. I have no one where I am and it does bother me. My neighbors are all vastly younger, so I feel… why start anything? I imagine moving to a retirement or at least over 55 community at some point… and then I hope things will be friendlier.

    • Our neighbours are in their 60s like us, but a little older, but over the way they are in their 80s, and further down the road they are younger in their 30s and 40s. We don’t have young children here, but there are a lot of dogs! We’ve never been ones to have regular coffee mornings or open house, but anyone who visits will always be offered a cup of tea at least.

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