Rob Oxford: My Neighborhood, Mr. Rogers would be proud

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Rob's rescued rose bushes
Photo by Rob Oxford
By Rob Oxford

As a child I watched Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Mostly because it was one of very few programs I was permitted to watch. Mr. Rogers taught me the value of sharing, of being kind, caring, respectful and he taught me to always hang up my sweater.

Although he had passed before I had the opportunity to speak to him personally, I was fortunate to have on my radio show Fred Rogers' wife Joanne and David Newell aka Mr. McFeely. Both were wonderful guests and both believed very strongly in the message Fred Rogers tried to convey.

We've been living on the same street, in the same house, for the past 19 years and when I am asked while conducting business, "is that your permanent address?", I always reply "....until they carry me out in a pine box." That is, of course, if this is where I am lucky enough to take my final breath.

My wife and I moved into our home when our son Taylor was one of very few babies on the street. For the most part we were surrounded by retirees, newlyweds, families with toddlers or teenagers and dear old Mrs. DeKoekkoek. A sweet lady with an immaculately landscaped yard. Mrs. DeKoekkoek was widowed and walked her dog every day. She would always wave and say hello as she passed by, sometimes stopping to comment on the progress we were making on our home.

Our house had been a rental property for many years before we purchased it and we've put much work into making it our own. I wish we'd taken more photos of its transformation, but 19 years ago, we had not yet gone digital and one still needed to have film "processed." So, we have several photo albums filled with memories, but at some point everything started being "uploaded" to Facebook.

Behind us sat one of the last remaining original homesteads in Shoreline. Originally a rather large farm, what was once a home now had unfortunately become a dilapidated old shack. It was hard to imagine it as a home in its then current condition, but it had been and I'm sure many great memories had been made there as well.

Walking by one day during the Spring I noticed a hint of red peering out from underneath a tall clump of grass. It was a rose bush. A climbing rose, obviously planted with intent. As I began to paw around through the tall grass I noticed a few more, evenly spaced, and in a row. Because the house had not seen any attention for a very long time and because I love roses, I went home to get my shovel.

I knew that the property had been sold recently and that a demolition crew would soon begin clearing the land. In addition, I figured that the last thing a contractor would have on his mind was worrying about transplanting a few malnourished rose bushes.

Honestly I was surprised that without any fertilizer or plant food it had even survived. I carefully dug up the five bushes and am happy to report that they are flourishing on the side of my house, mere feet from where they were initially planted many years before.

Today there are dozens of young children running up and down in front of our home. Yelling, laughing, jumping, skipping, selling lemonade during the summer and selling Girl Scout cookies door to door. We know most, if not all of our neighbors and because new families are moving in all of the time, if we don't know them now we soon will. The "Block Parties" and "Neighborhood Night Outs" have enabled us to become closer to those with whom we share a common interest, the safety and sanctity of where we choose to reside.

I strongly believe it is vitally important to be involved in your community and to help make it safe for all.

Since living here I have personally prevented a boat from being stolen, literally catching the thieves in the act. I have reported to police several vehicles abandoned on the side of my house that it turned out had been stolen and I've also turned away dozens of solicitors without the proper identification required to be knocking on any of our doors. These are our homes.

I've heard people say a person like me is being "nosey", that I should "mind my own business" and "not get involved" and that's fine. But this is my community, this is "our" neighborhood and now I'm the guy walking his dog, waving and commenting on the progress you're making on your home.

I hope you'll wave back.


S,  March 11, 2018 at 6:09 PM  

What a lovely story. I'd be happy to be your neighbor anytime. :)

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