When we moved into our house in October of 1974, our next door neighbors, Ed and Mary Schmidt and their children, Eddie, Paul and Heather, had been in their house only a few months. We supplanted their role as "the new neighbors" on the block (and were ourselves supplanted when the Fitzpatricks moved in across the street a few months after that). For almost thirty-five years, we have watched other families come and go (though the Fitzpatricks -- and Mrs. Tiedemann next door to them -- are also still here), seen our own and each other's children grow to adulthood, and commented on the never-ending array of chores we seem to have around the house.
It was Ed who said once, when I had borrowed his ladder to clean leaves from our gutters or he had borrowed our tree clipper to cut down some dead branches, "When you own a house, you either earn a lot or you learn a lot!" Indeed, while I have learned how to fix a number of things, Ed has learned a lot more and has always been happy to share his knowledge and time, for which Laurie and I will always be grateful.
Back when Eddie and then Paul were old enough to use the lawnmower, we hired them to mow our lawn. When Paul grew up, I took up the chore again, and had been doing it for a dozen years or more. Last summer, however, when "Murray," our lawnmower, started getting cranky, we decided it was time to hire the next generation of Schmidt to take over the task. Eddie's son Nicholas, who was already coming over to mow his grandparents' lawn, added us to his small but loyal customer base.
Well, spring has sprung and a few days ago Ed and I were talking about how all the recent rain had started the grass a-growing. Ed said that he expected Nicholas to be over soon to mow. For whatever reason, Nicholas did not make it and I came home Friday to discover that Ed had mowed our lawn while he was mowing his own! I told him that I could have gotten cranky "Murray" out and done it myself, but he just smiled and said, "No problem."
Ed's "community spirit" goes much further than that, by the way. Last week he was honored by the South Farmingdale Fire Department for serving fifty years as a volunteer fireman. Fifty years! Congratulations on that achievement, Ed; it's great to know you and have you as a neighbor.