Neighborly

Boyleing Points
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Pretty soon, Boyleing Points goes on summer vacation, which I hope extends until Thanksgiving. It’s just too damn hard typing in this heat. Anyway, I hope most of you are as forgetful as me and don’t recognize when I start to slip in columns from the past before I go completely radio silent.

With everybody out and about and heading to beaches and barbecues, it’s the time of year when having good neighbors is no small blessing. This is a retread of a 2016 column which, I have to say, made me smile when I re-read the Mrs. Winters anecdote.

Mrs. Winters was the mother of a future NBA All-Star, Brian Winters. He was an all-time Rockaway great who grew up on Newport Avenue in Rockaway Park. A couple years back, Charlie Moran sent us a letter about the good humor and grace of Mrs. Winters.

“One Saturday morning we all decided to meet in the Winters’ backyard at 7 a.m. and play some hoops. We all showed up at 7 a.m. yelling, screaming, playing some ball and having a good old time. The second floor window comes up and Mrs. Winters' head comes out of the window and she asks us politely, "Boys, could you please come back at 9 a.m.?”

Funny thing is, if she had barked at them and scared them away, I doubt Charlie would’ve remembered anything about that morning. 

For every Mrs. Winters, there are ten people who would’ve growled the equivalent of “Get off my lawn.”

Sad to say, I’d probably be more grouch than Mrs. Winters, even though I have no right after the way we terrorized our neighbors growing up.  We had a hoop in our backyard, too.  I’m sure were told that we couldn’t play until 9 a.m. as well.  But it wasn’t so much the hour of the day that was the cause of turmoil on East 36th Street. It was the most unfortunate way the ball seemed to bounce. In one direction, the ball would land in our neighbor’s carefully-tended garden. In the other direction, the ball had an uncanny way of landing on a neighbor’s barbecue grill or off the head of some visiting granny-type.

We showed our compassion and concern by putting up chicken wire about twenty feet high. Our backyard was like something you’d see in Better Prisons Magazine. The class we had. 

Of course, as bad as we were, we did what humans do – we pointed out some family that was even worse. We were bad, we’d admit, but at least we weren’t as bad as the so-and-so family.

Ah, the poor neighbors of the so-and-sos. That’s who you should feel sorry for.

Of course, neighbors just don’t live in houses. People live in apartments and often share walls with people they hate. Sometimes they have to stand a few feet apart waiting for an elevator. Then they have to get on and ride in the tiny compartment up to the floor they both live on. They retreat to their own apartment and then look at the shared walls sending bad wishes to each other.

Shared walls and shared driveways can start never ending wars.

Some people erect grudge fences. They have some kind of problem and then put up a Berlin wall no matter how unsightly it might be. Some people seem bothered by everything and there’s nothing a good neighbor can do.

A lot of neighbors just want to keep it businesslike. They say good morning and that’s that. Sometimes they might hold a package for the neighbors or take in a trash can but that might become a habit, god forbid, so they can’t be too nice.

Other times people move in next to each other as total strangers and soon become great friends, part of the extended family. Happens all the time in Rockaway. But you never know. Neighbors are like kids - you just never know what you’re gonna get.

Here’s hoping the thought of your neighbors doesn’t make you want to scream. Or plot deadly schemes in your head. Yeah, I know, some of you do plot…

Truth is, one of the more underrated things in life is having good neighbors. Anyway, if my neighbors read this: Good morning and for the record, I’ve never plotted any evil schemes. Well, except for that one guy a few years back…

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