Letters to the editor

The ‘human’ thing to do

The 3500 block of James Avenue is very, very quiet. Few people even know it exists.   On one side of the street, there are back doors of homes on Irving. Across the street. there is one multiple-dwelling unit. At the end of James, there is a parking lot for St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church. That’s all. (Except for the folks that have found it a convenient place to park for Lake Calhoun.)

As a neighborhood, it is typical of areas where there are few if any children

… people tend to keep to themselves. Sometimes one neighbor organizes a Block Night Out when several of us come out, eat a little and get to know one another

… sort of. Some years, we seem to not get around to it.

Two years ago, some new neighbors started building a huge second-floor deck. It was beautiful, resting on massive iron supports that were imbedded deep into the ground. As the work continued, we neighbors started talking to each other and to the family building the deck. We got to know each other a little better. Fast forward to a quiet Saturday two weeks ago.

I was enjoying the Strib and my morning coffee in the sun room when the quiet erupted with the sound of a dump truck dumping. Investigating, I found a load of small stones being delivered to this home with the beautiful deck.   

As the weekend evolved, a truly remarkable, heart-warming event unfolded. The corner house on Irving & 36th next to the “beautiful deck” house has a large front, side and back yard that had been minimally cared for over the last 20 years, consisting of scrub brush, some debris, a few straggly flowers, etc. It clearly needed a lot more work than the owner was able to provide. Instead, the homeowner was given an offer she couldn’t refuse. The family of the “beautiful deck house” offered to landscape her entire corner lot. For free. Labor and materials. They have a large family, lots of relatives and friends. A conservative estimate of the number of workers there for two weekends is somewhere in the mid-30s to mid-40s. Whole families came to help. A beautiful retaining wall has been built … landscaping has been started, and the work continues. When I asked the head of the “beautiful deck house” why he was doing it, his answer is because it is the ‘human’ thing to do.   

The interesting thing is we all talk to each other much more often now. We have gotten to know each other better. First we talked about the deck, then the corner yard, now we are becoming a community of neighbors.   

Meanwhile, every driver on 36th Street at Irving and James can enjoy the beauty one man’s family brought to our city. And those of us who live here have the privilege of knowing we have one of the best neighbors a community can have.

Marie Manthey
East Calhoun Community