Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sibling Assignment #55: A Good Chainsaw Makes Good Neighbors

InlandEmpireGirl gave the sibling assignment this week: Robert Frost said, "Good fences make good neighbors." Think back to all the neighbors we had growing up in Kellogg. Choose a memorable event that involved neighbors and share your memories.

InlandEmpireGirl visits childhood E. Portland Avenue neighbor Mary Pavelich here and Moliere is keeping Silver Valley Girl off her blog for now, but she'll come through later.

Mom and Dad bought their first and only house in 1962 and we moved into it early in the summer.

Jane and Woody Day bought and moved into the house next door just a little earlier.

Friends threw a joint housewarming party.

I was only eight years old when we moved into our new house, but I remember how it seemed like the whole town of Kellogg came to our house and Day's house to warm them up with platters of salami, bologna, chopped ham, cold chicken, American cheese, and roast beef, bowls of potato, macaroni, jello, and tossed green salad, coolers of Shasta soda and Lucky Lager and Olympia beer, and loaves of Wonder and Holsum bread.

Mom gave house tours. Dad congregated with Dick and Jerry and Ted and Tommy and Johnny and Bob and Walt and Woody and the other men and took long draws from iced beer and joined his friends in big stories and long laughs.

As the afternoon slid toward early evening, the party moved to the Warnekes' house who lived behind us. The Warnekes had a covered patio and it had been a cloudy day. I suspect rain threatened and no one wanted to hunker down in a house, so everyone retreated to the patio.

No one wanted, however, to walk half way around the block to get to the Warneke's.

Frank Warneke had a solution.

He walked half way around the block to his garage, fired up his chain saw, and cut a hole in the picket fence that divided our house from his.

Soon traffic flowed easily over to the Warnekes and back to our house as merrymakers moved food and drink to Frank and Ruth's and as knots of partiers formed in both yards.

But there was a problem.

Dominic Rinaldi couldn't get through the gap in the fence.

Dominic Rinaldi was a huge man who suffered a glandular disorder and weighed hundreds of pounds. I've never known how much Dominic Rinaldi weighed, but had you asked me in 1962 I would have said five hundred pounds. But maybe he weighed four hundred. Or maybe three hundred.

However much he weighed, he couldn't get from one yard to another.

Frank found out the fence hole was too narrow for Dominic.

I watched in wonder as Frank cranked up the chain saw again and cut a bigger hole in the picket fence.

Until he died about twenty-five years ago, Dominic enjoyed the paternal and maternal care of many men and women in Kellogg. Dominic couldn't drive and people always came forward to take him places. He loved to fish and he was always a part of fishing trips deep into the Coeur d'Alene River basin. He couldn't do much labor, but the Bunker Hill Company hired him and found work for him so that he could financially support himself.

When Frank returned to his garage and fired up his chainsaw again so that Dominic Rinaldi could get through the fence, my eight year old mind realized that I lived in a town where friends and neighbors looked out for each other, made accommodations, and wanted everyone to be involved in both the work and play that made Kellogg the town it was.

Dominic could be difficult, demanding, petulant, coarse, and needy. His poor health required him to go often to the doctor and he drank too much and wasn't always a good drunk.

But he was a Kellogg kid, born and raised, and his friends and neighbors always made sure he belonged.


Laurie said...

Great story! That's what I love about small towns.

Inland Empire Girl said...

You captured the heart and soul of Kellogg. Perfection!

John in Tennessee said...

I liked this story as it reminded me of the parties I attended as a child growing up in Kellogg. I'm visiting my family in Spokane next week and plan on making it up to Kellogg. It always brings backs some great memories when I visit.

Tim Gerlitz said...

Our family lived in Kellogg in 1963 and 1964. My father, John Gerlitz, was a mechanic at Bunker. We lived next door to "Mr. Dominic" as we called him. I was only 3 years old at the time, but I have very distinct memories of him because of his size. He would sit on his porch and I would play hide and seek with him...well, actually I would hide and he would sit on the porch and "find" me. I'm very appreciative of your story as I had only heard bits and pieces about "Mr. Dominic" over the years, and it was a pleasure to hear more about our neighbor.