What's Your Next-Door Neighbor Story?

Parke County Characters

We had a few neighbors, all old men: Pood Spurr, Pee-Wee Mosteller, and Hobe (pronounced like "hope" but with a "b") Martin. I'm not inventing these names for the sake of story; country folk tend to keep using the nicknames they were dubbed with as toddlers and never outgrew. But Hobe was my favorite. Or maybe Pood. Maybe Pee-Wee. Pood cooked one hamburger that covered the entire surface area of the cast iron skillet he used because why bother with making a bunch of small hamburgers when you can just make one big hamburger and save yourself the hassle? Sound logic to a kid. He also made the sweetest tea in the world and had the best barn for playing. Pee-Wee, who happened to be our bus driver as well, stopped at a country store every Friday on the bus route home and let us buy junk food, sometimes giving us a quarter or two. He gave us haystack candies and those gummy orange slices every Christmas, AND he let me and my sisters run wild, doing flips in the aisle and bouncing high in the seats, when he took the long route home and we were the last ones off. And then there's Hobe, who drove his car so slowly that I could outrace him on my bicycle. He loved The Price is Right, and he really, really loved fried potatoes and smoked sausage cooked together in, yes, another cast iron skillet. So one day, and I don't know why, I was suddenly possessed by the smell of those frying potatoes. (The memory of this makes my mouth water even now, years later.) I was around the age of 10. I crossed the yard and went to the screen door to look in. There was Hobe, sitting in his chair, cane at his side, Bob Barker blaring. He was pretty oblivious in general, but he waved me in, and I joined him. His daughter Priscilla was cooking the food. I sat there with him for over a couple hours, watching TV and eating the main dish with slices of buttered bread -- peaceful, comfortable, and quiet.

I just noticed the theme of food. Good eatin'. We were not lacking characters or cooks in our corner of Parke County.


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Have a Next-Door Neighbor Story?

As part of our new webcomic, Next-Door Neighbor, we thought it appropriate to have a little contest. Tell us your best true next-door neighbor story, and the winning tale will be matched with an artist and transformed into a webcomic and included as the final installment of Next-Door Neighbor.

About Next-Door Neighbor

No matter how close or how far, we all live next to someone, and we all have a Next-Door Neighbor story. With that in mind, editor Dean Haspiel asked some of his favorite storytellers and cartoonists to create their favorite NDN stories so we could share them with you.

The Fine Print & Contest Rules

By submitting an entry, you are granting SMITH the right to reprint or republish that entry online or in print, as well as make any necessary edits. See SMITH's terms of service for complete details.

This contest ends September 1, 2008. Prizes are not redeemable for cash and must be accepted as awarded. Winners are decided at the discretion of SMITH judges and all decisions are final. SMITH reserves the right to change the contest rules. Enter as often as you want. SMITH reserves the right to reprint or republish all entries.

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