It was almost 30 years ago Gene Kindle and I were driving to the deer lease to get it ready for deer season. As if it were yesterday, we were getting up and filling our thermos with coffee we had made in his, “old school” coffee maker. Oh how long ago this was before Starbucks was even heard of in East Texas. I am sure the conversation as we drove down state Hwy 69 was of my studies at Texas A&M. I had to report back to him weekly seeing as how he was helping put me through school, just this time it was in person. Early but enjoyable.
It was around 4:00 am as we came into Jacksonville, Texas early that morning. I noticed it first and then pointed it out to Gene. The blue metal building was glowing red and smoke was flowing from the sides. Realizing the scene was not as it should be; we stopped at a pay phone and called 911. Wait! I realize that I need to clarify something. In my story I just mentioned something some of you may not know what I just wrote, pay phone. See, long before we had iphones, smartphones, flip phones, and even bag phones (now I’m really dating some of you), there were these devices (usually found at gas stations) called, pay phones. And they were just that, “pay” phones. One would slip coinage into a blue box, hold the receiver, get a dial tone, and dial your number. So it was this device we used to summons help for the building that was apparently on fire early that morning. Back to my story…
We did not stick around for the excitement that morning but I distinctively remember the conversation turning from one of school to one of being a good neighbor. Gene used that which we had just done as, “something a good neighbor would do”. No need to stop and wait for a, “thank you”, just do the right thing and move on. Gene taught me a many a things growing up and I miss him dearly but that particular day, it was on being a good neighbor. Ever since then I’ve tried to practice that. Not just to my neighbors to my left and right but to all of you, in our whole community. Do I do it perfectly every time? Nope, I sure don’t. As a matter of fact I was just reminded of that Saturday. But I digress and must stay on task. (Darn ADD)
Sometimes doing the right thing and being a good neighbor is just the right thing to do. No pay, no reward, no accolades, just the joy in knowing you’ve been a good neighbor is enough. So here is my challenge of the month. Next time you have the chance to be a good neighbor, do so. Pick up some trash, make a grocery store run for someone, call and check on someone, open the door for the one behind you, something. Maybe I’m old school but by golly, I like it when people do nice things, just cause.
PS – Funny follow-up to my story. Later that week Gene and I were on the cover of the Tyler Morning Telegraph. Oh we made the paper big time. “Passing through deer hunters stopped to alert the fire department of the blaze.” Stop by sometime and I’ll show it to you. Gene just had to send me a copy of it that fall and of course I still have it. Famous, huh? Well, I know I wont be asked for any autographs but hopefully I will be asked to help you next time you are in and rest assured, I will do my best to be a good neighbor and help.