There were lots of kids, especially boys, for some reason. And the adults were a crazy, creative, supportive bunch who would do anything for each other. Our kids knew that if there was any kind of emergency and we weren't available, they could go to anyone on the street for help. Lon and Lyn Burr lived directly to our north. I just learned with great sadness that Lon, in his nineties, passed away yesterday.
Lon was a one of a kind. His pranks and jokes were notorious, Our dogs loved him. Before he retired, he sold feed, and every day when he got home, they would whine to be let out. They would race over to his truck and he would give them chunks of pig-starter. Then he would send them back with a note in their collars or one paw stuck in their collars. The next day they would be right back there.
Once we were on a family vacation out West. My cousin asked, "Do you have someone watching your house?" We said "Yes, unfortunately." Sure enough, when we got home, there was a For Sale sign in the yard and the kind of flags you see in used car lots strung from the eaves to the nearest trees. Inside, led by Lon, the neighbors had turned all of the downstairs furniture upside down. His wife, Lyn, told me later that she had stopped him from boarding up the windows.
He came to a yard party that had a western theme dressed as an Indian with a squirrel tail tied to his glasses and fastened over the top of his bald head like a Mohawk haircut. He once planted gourds between the rows in my garden and then pointed them out after they sprouted, asking me why I had planted them there. He would tell me that I had the towels hung upside down on the clothesline. He had nicknames for all the neighborhood kids and they called him Geezer. He would offer to set up a divorced neighbor with some wealthy widowed farmer, assuring her "He's in his eighties. You won't have to put up with him long."
But Lon wasn't all jokes. He could build or fix anything. When we were doing any kind of remodeling project, if it passed Lon's inspection, we were good to go. Once we had a sinkhole open up in our front yard caused by a leak in an old water main. We got the water shut off but it was the weekend and we couldn't find a plumber. Lon came over with a tube of gunk and a clamp, climbed down in that muddy hole, and fixed it. That was over thirty years ago, and as far as I know, it hasn't leaked since.
He carved delightful animals out of wood. He could paint. He bought old furniture pieces, fixed them, and refinished them into beautiful pieces.
Lon was part of the Greatest Generation. He fought in Italy and France, part of one of the second or third waves into Normandy. He worked tirelessly for the community and would do anything for anybody.
Rest in peace, Lon Burr. When you get to heaven, I hope someone ties your shoelaces together or puts extra wax on your wings. While you're at it, could you fix this awful weather we've been having?