In the Old Days, when you moved to the County, you knew exactly what kind of neighbour you were going to get: a friendly, overly-helpful one, who wants to help you get settled, and get properly introduced to the community. In those days, neighbours were expected to rifle through your mailbox to determine your character, plus how much you pay for your mortgage, hydro and property taxes. This is so they can be more helpful to you in the future, when you actually meet.
Also, while you’re preoccupied reading Reader’s Digest in the Can, they will enter your house and search for other ways to help, like checking the expiry date on the items in your fridge, doing mental calculations on the value of the clothing in your closet, and jotting down recommendations for better cleaning products.
This has always been the polite, non-intrusive way for your neighbours to ‘get to know you’. Also, in the Old Days, you would have been on a telephone ‘party line’, which would allow neighbours to learn everything about you, from the comfort and privacy of their own homes, just by listening in on all your calls.
Unfortunately, times have changed, and the silly Privacy Act now makes it difficult for neighbours to walk in and reorganize your underwear drawer while you’re in the shower. The ban on phone-tapping alone has had a major impact on the prime news-gathering source in the communities, and has led many a seasoned gossip to fabricate stories, based on what they can see from their living rooms, through their telescopes.
Though it’s much more difficult now, you can rest assured that, by the time you start moving in, the neighbours will know everything about you, including your past history, your estimated worth, and whether or not you should consider bran to be a regular part of your diet.
Don’t be alarmed.
You’re just not used to it.
In the city, you lived at 431 Maple Avenue.
When you told other people in the city you lived at 431 Maple Avenue, they would go: “Oh, yes, I know that house.”
What they really mean is that they have a pretty good idea it’s between 429 Maple Avenue and 433 Maple Avenue, and it’s roughly across from 432 Maple Avenue. They know what the house looks like, because every house within 18 square miles looks exactly the same. Except for the guy who had to go to court because he painted his front door red, and refused to pave his driveway.
It doesn’t work that way in the County.
When people say, “I know that house,” they know that house.
“Oh, you moved into the Cole house.”
“No, we bought it from a man named Smith.”
“Yes, that’s right. The Smiths bought the Cole house about a year before they sold it to you. And the Johnsons had the Cole house before that.”
City people despair over this, because they consider it their house, and they wonder how long it will take before the locals start calling it by their name. The answer is: two centuries, give or take a decade.
You can speed things up by doing something really important in the community, like running for council, rescuing no less than seven children from a house fire, or buying a ‘round for the whole house on me’ at the Royal Hotel.
The best thing to do is to buy a copy of The Settler’s Dream, find your house in it, and speak proudly of the fact that the guy who ran the blacksmith shop in Milford in 1824 used to own your house. You can also claim to be his great-great-great-grandchild, but you’d better have a damn fine counterfeit family tree in your pocket before you try it.
Steve Campbell in The County Handbook
Pick up your copy of The County Handbook and other County books, Breakaway Magazine, and The County Magazine at:
257 Main Street, Bloomfield
Toll Free: 1-877-645-8205
or visit them online at www.countymagazine.ca
Thanks to The Frere Brothers for the use of their song “We’re Movin to the County”.
Visit the Frere Brother online at http://www.myspace.com/thefrerebrothers