Fred Rogers would have given his trademark sweater to live here. For more than 30 years, young children eagerly gathered around their television sets to watch the popular television host talk about his ideal neighborhood. Mr. Rogers is no longer with us, but the kind of neighborhoods he sang and talked about still exist. Luckily for us, one of them is a development of 50 homes in north Bothell.
Ours is the kind of neighborhood where people look out for each other. If you have lost your cat, neighbors are anxious to help you find it. If it is getting late at night, and you’ve forgotten to close your garage door, you’ll most likely get a phone call from a neighbor letting you know. If you are making cookies, and suddenly realize you are out of eggs, you can bet that a neighbor is only too happy to lend you some. Most likely those cookies were being made to take to another neighbor anyway, because that happens in our neighborhood. Rides to the airport, dead car batteries and picking up mail and newspapers when you are out of town are all easily taken care of by our friendly neighbors. We even have a printed directory containing all of our names and phone numbers to keep us in touch. It is the little things people do that make us all glad we live here.
Sometimes the neighbors do BIG things, like our annual progressive dinner at Christmas time, or the project we just completed. On May 31, 25 neighbors gathered at the home of Bob, Flora and Michelle Webster to rebuild Bob’s wheelchair ramp. Neighbors Scott and Patty Mossing had noticed that the wood on the 19-year-old ramp was beginning to rot, making it increasingly unsafe for Flora to navigate Bob’s wheelchair. They alerted other neighbors, chose a date and went to work. Whole families came to help. While skilled carpenters worked on the construction, others dug around the ramp site to prevent the new wood from rotting in the future. Young children were kept busy by carrying buckets of dirt and disposing of them in the nethermost parts of the Webster’s yard. They also enjoyed slopping stain on the ramp (and on themselves). Other neighbors helped with yard work. They even added a finishing touch of newly planted flowers. The project started early in the morning, but by evening, just as sprinkles started to descend, the last of the tar paper was placed on the new ramp, everything was cleaned up and the neighborhood project was complete, with much gratitude from the Webster family. Neighbor Brian Hardy, who spent most of the day on the project, commented that working on the ramp with his neighbors was so much fun, that it didn’t even feel like work. Neighbors who participated were: Scott, Patty, Preston and Josh Mossing; Bill and Chris Freeburg; Dennis, Kim, Joe, Megan and Michelle Griffin; Pat, Ranee’ and Ali Henniger; Brian and Kim Boase; Keely, Erin, and Jenna Garcia; Bob and Cathy Bean; Addie Thompson; Pete Gerhard; Brian Hardy and James Walters.
It is interesting to note that neighbors built the original wheelchair ramp in 1989, shortly after Bob Webster, a 43-year-old international business consultant, had a stroke. The stroke left him paralyzed on one side. Getting him in and out of his split-level home was nearly impossible before the construction of the ramp. Many of the neighbors who built the original ramp have moved away, but the same caring feeling exists with those who have moved in. The words to Mr. Rogers’ popular song describe how those in our neighborhood, and particularly the Websters, feel: “I’ve always wanted to have a neighbor just like you. I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you … Would you be mine? Could you be mine? … Please won’t you be my neighbor?”
Cathy Bean is a Bothell resident.