Before Yellow Pages, Angie’s List and rental stores, neighbors depended on each other. If your automobile wouldn’t start, you summoned a neighbor that knew what to do. He could check the spark, the fuel flow, and either get it started or tell you what you needed to get it running. There was one neighbor with a welder who could fix anything you could drag to his barn. The person with the carpentry skills could show a first-timer how to cut a rafter or even mix concrete. My dad gave free haircuts to anyone in need, and there were plenty. The first day school was out he gave me, my brother and all of our friends a “buzz cut” and we were ready for summer. One neighbor helped people locate their water wells with his devining rod. He would point to the exact spot to drill. He never missed.
Veterinarians were far away and expensive. One old-timer knew what to do for a sick cow or horse. I remember we had a cow that got into a green alfalfa field. She was so bloated that she was laying on her side with all four legs sticking straight out. We gathered around and watched as the old man placed one hand on the cows hip bone, measured a short space with the other hand and stuck his pocket knife in this exact spot. It sounded like a punctured car tire, but when the whistling stopped, the cow was up walking around.
Medical doctors were not readily available in rural Oklahoma. When I was born, my sister ran across the field from the railroad section house where my family lived and got Aunt Belle Garner who delivered most of the babies in the community. She delivered me, no cost, no problems.
One neighbor had a horse that could work in small areas; he plowed everyone’s backyard gardens. One lady had a quilting frame which traveled from house to house during the winter months. If you wanted to do your own project, you could borrow the needed tool from a neighbor which might be a pipe threader or a house jack. Neighbors in the community were glad to share what they had.
This is what neighbors and community were all about. We were better off when we were less self-sufficient and needed each other.