CANISTEO — The old bromide about small-town residents helping each other in times of need could have been written about Canisteo neighbors.
The latest stormy weekend was the perfect time to test the veracity of that statement.
Conventional meteorological wisdom of the holiday-extended break was that about a foot of snow topped with frigid temperatures would keep most of us indoors, huddled around fireplaces and stoves while lustily cursing Canada. Even we who knew all the words to the national anthem “O Canada” because of DNA and practice looked outside with snow shovels in hand hoping for a break in the growing blizzard.
If the family flivver remained parked in the driveway some 30 feet from our side street, shoveling the predicted squalls would either break this puny scribbler’s 79-year-old back or we would lower our gasoline costs to zero until spring arrives.
Neither option seemed pleasant.
Further, a painfully nagging right ankle made any movement beyond the slow drag of a booted right foot a visually embarrassing chore.
Enter the reason this article is written: With youthful energy and a snow blower, neither of which this writer possesses, an anonymous neighbor transformed the snow mass that threatened to become the highlight of the local Himalaya exhibit from impenetrable barrier into a chilled scale model of a wintry Tibet.
As the youthful neighbor whittled Snow Mountain, the author of this seasonal epic realized his throbbing ankle would live another day. The only evidence our neighborly liberator demonstrated that he might be mortal was a generated sweat on a steadily reddening face.
And then he disappeared.
The scribbler wanted to wait until our hero was home to telephone a generous gush of gratitude. But after waiting a suitable 15 minutes, the author became involved in hosting a resident of Hartsville who was unable to drive the steep uphill mile over a slippery roadway to his well-ventilated home. Scribe and wife had offered their warm downtown Canisteo home as temporary residence for neighbor and his furry 50-pound mascot.
And the writer forgot the liberator who then called after several hours to explain apologetically he would dig out the flivver “tomorrow morning.”
Scribe chuckled with appreciation of the man who had spent 15 minutes athletically rearranging the snowscape to help a neighbor and then apologized. He explained to anonymous hero who owned the car that was parked directly across the side street.
Young hero is polite to a fault and explained his potential embarrassment if his name or any of half a dozen other community good works were associated with his efforts helping neighbors were mentioned. That’s why this perpetually good Samaritan’s community efforts remain anonymous in conversation and the written word.
That anonymity deserves to be scrapped, of course, but despite advancing age, this writer plans on living in the same house and dealing with the same neighbors for at least another decade.
Violating their trust would be tantamount to sticking his tongue out at the flag or worse.
Lots of them consider helping neighbors a sacred responsibility. This writer will not violate that responsibility, no matter how enthusiastically The Spectator city editor Neal insists.
Sorry, Neal. Scribe has a rule for working with neighbors who want nothing more than the joy of helping people, God Bless ‘em.
They made the rules and writer’ll abide by that trust come heck or high snowfall.
Al Bruce covers education news for The Spectator.