When John McGee started sharing stories about his Breezy Point neighborhood - which he calls “magical” - it struck an immediate chord.
I grew up in the neighborhood he was describing. Friendly neighbors enjoying each other’s company. Lending each other a helping hand. Gathering together for parties and potlucks. Kids all around. A place where everyone knows everyone else.
Yep, definitely. That was my Crystal Lake neighborhood in Lakeville in the 1970s.
We had families who shared ownership of a pontoon boat. We kids had the run of the neighborhood. We climbed trees. We biked everywhere, including to the neighborhood candy store. We swam all summer long in my best friend’s backyard pool right next door. We skated on a rink on the pond just down the hill out our back door that the neighbors on the other side of us flooded every winter. We went sledding down hills in our backyards. We made forts in the woods.
When our parents went out of town for any reason, we kids stayed with neighbors and didn’t mind a bit that we had to stay back.
We had close-knit family friends in a fun and safe place to live and grow up.
We enjoyed the same type of neighborhood when my husband and I moved to Brainerd and had kids. We’d get together for Vikings football games, have progressive dinners on New Year’s Eve and gather for bonfires and our kids’ birthday parties. We had block parties for a few years. We have the perfect street setup for trick-or-treating on Halloween.
McGee described a similar type neighborhood in a story in this issue of the Echo Journal. When I was visiting his home, his teenage grandson and another teenage boy from the neighborhood stopped by and shared how much they enjoy doing projects around the neighborhood and particularly at McGee’s home. The boys enjoy overnights in a woodshed they take pride in helping to build and where they have poker games. They proudly showed off the community sauna they worked hard to build.
In this day of technology - cell phones and computers and video games - it’s refreshing to hear of people and kids interacting face to face and enjoying each other’s company and hard work.
As we talked in his driveway, another neighbor stopped by with her dog. After chatting, McGee promised he’d help her move some garage sale items to his place and sent her on her way with a bag of fresh green beans and cucumbers he picked fresh from the garden.
This reporter also left with garden produce and a strong desire to move to this neighborhood.
Do other such magical neighborhoods still exist? Do you live in such a special place? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Tell me what’s great about where you live by emailing me at email@example.com.