Good fences make good neighbors

Randy Butler Contributing columnist

Randy Butler Contributing columnist

Ever wonder where the saying “good fences make good neighbors” came from? I did. And I have to admit I had no idea.

After some research, I learned the first form if it came from Benjamin Franklin out the famous “Poor Richards Almanac.” It read: “Love your neighbor as yourself, yet don’t pull down your hedges.” The more modern version we use today was written by Robert Frost in 1914 from the poem “Mending Wall.”

I had to ask myself, what does this mean? Build walls or fences to protect our stuff from the guy next door? Does it mean no one can be fully trusted? We must be on guard because we all know, “How people are?”

Or, does it mean in order to function in this world we need to follow the Golden Rule — treating others as we want to be treated. Maybe it means to put our needs behind those of the ones we live beside. We can all agree that there are exceptions to most every rule. There are folks out there that just can’t ever seem to live in harmony anywhere or with most anyone. But, I for one lean towards the second definition, the Golden Rule.

When I think of neighbors the first one that comes to mind is Wilson. He was the guy that lived next door to Tim the Tool Man Taylor. These guys were buddies and talked every day. Tim would go to Wilson and ask for his advice. Wilson shared his wisdom on kids, marriage and life in general. I’m not sure if Tim ever even saw his face, because we never did, but these guys were tight. They never argued over boundaries or excessive noise, the kids or anything. They were just good friends that depended on each other. Isn’t that a great way to live?

With Highland County located in southern Ohio, are we guilty of having that southern hospitality that we see in movies, songs and poetry? I looked up and found the definition of southern hospitality: A family, or individual helping another, just because it’s the right thing to do.

A couple of years ago I went to one of my grandchildren’s Christmas play about an hour or so north of here. The preschool production was held in a church that sat about 200 people. We arrived about 20 minutes early. I would estimate there were only about 50 people seated when we arrived. All other seats were covered with purses and coats to save seats for others that would show up between the start time and about 10 minutes after. Is this the right way to treat others? When the curtain came up, all the kids were standing on the risers ready to perform. The hallways and the walls were lined with family members and friends, myself included. Standing against a wall for 60 to 90 minutes can be a tough task for anyone. My son-in-law’s grandparents were among those standing. These folks are well into their 90s. I will never forget that during the entire program I was waiting for one of the seated folks to get up and give the elderly couple their seats. It never happened.

So many times since that night I have asked myself, would that happen in Highland County? Would those folks be left standing without a seat? Most of us that call Highland County our home would say, no way. There would be many to offer their seats to them. That would not happen here.

There are so many things that affect real estate in an area. Things like jobs, industry, farming, crime rate, and many others. One major thing that should be considered is the makeup of the people living there. While we must admit Highland County does have its issues, all in all, it’s a pretty good place to live.

In the famous words of Dorothy Gale, “There’s no place like home.”

Randy Butler is a lifelong resident of Highland County and a licensed real estate agent for Classic Real Estate in Hillsboro.

Randy Butler Contributing columnist Butler Contributing columnist