As we approach Thanksgiving Day, it is perhaps a good thing to be more mindful of our many blessings, especially considering the times in which we are now living and as we have heard since our childhoods, “Count our blessings one by one.”
One particular and special blessing I have enjoyed is the time I have been able to live in the Kinwood neighborhood here in Rockingham for the past 40 years.
After living in an apartment for the first four years of our marriage, my husband and I bought a house in Kinwood. Little did I know then that not only were we acquiring a new home, we were also acquiring an extended family by moving into this special neighborhood.
And just like with our actual extended families, things change. Neighbors like family members pass away and often move to other locations. Life can move on in unfortunately not the happiest of ways.
I miss dear neighbors I have had in the years I have lived in Kinwood. Not only were they great friends but exceptional role models for our children.
Boyd and Billie Taylor were among the first residents of the Kinwood housing development started by former Rockingham mayor G.R. Kindley, who still lives in the neighborhood. My husband and I had lived here for quite a while when my husband shared with me his knowledge of Boyd’s World War II record of service.
Truly a humble hero, Boyd landed on the Normandy beaches abounding with dead bodies the day after D-Day, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and was among the troops liberating a concentration camp. My husband told me Boyd did not like to talk about all he had seen during the war and shared his experiences with my husband when my husband asked about a medal encased in glass in his den.
I can imagine that Boyd’s love of nature and his passion for gardening may have emanated from the horrors he witnessed during the war. Boyd’s yard was the epitome of aesthetic planting and placement for year-round beauty. I loved taking friends over for “tours.”
Boyd was one of those people who did not have a filter or screen; he had no problem whatsoever of telling you exactly what he thought. I quickly gathered he was well ahead of his time and generation about certain topics. Boyd was also part owner of a barber shop in Hamlet. I can only imagine the many stories he heard from customers during his many years as a barber.
Robert and Nora Smith were also great neighbors. I have never known anyone with more energy than Robert Smith. Also a WWII veteran, Robert had so much energy that my husband said if he had been a kid in more recent times, he would have probably been placed on Ritalin, the drug of choice for “hyper” kids a couple of years ago.
Robert also had a knack for fixing anything and making things in his workshop. He was definitely the “go-to” guy for the neighborhood for any household problem or emergency. I can well remember Robert enlisting a few neighbors to help him capture a possum that had decided to make its home underneath our house. A quick battle was waged and the pesky beast had to give it up once captured and later released in a wooded area.
Our neighborhood pharmacist, Lazelle Marks, always was a great source of info on any medication we were prescribed. Have wonderful memories of our annual New Year’s Day covered dish luncheon with traditional dishes at Judy and Lazelle’s home.
Myrtle Stogner was the neighborhood’s own Martha Stewart with her extensive background in home economics. Tasteful decorating and delicious food always abounded in her lovely home.
Sally and Dale Ormsby helped us out in an emergency when my husband and I received a call from Social Services that there was an immediate need for a foster family for a baby girl born in the local hospital. They had heard about our phone call and called us telling us that they had a crib and bassinet we could have and even brought them over before the baby arrived at our home. Sally even helped me give the baby her first bath in our home. We were later able to adopt this precious baby girl.
Such memories! So thankful I can count these neighbors mentioned and many others in Kinwood as blessings one by one.
Helen Cox is a former journalist and educator in Richmond County.