Advertisement

CURVE:Spirit of community lives on

THE BELL

January 04, 2007|By JOSEPH N. BELL

On New Year's Day, while my household was in a kind of post-holiday torpor, the front doorbell rang and the dog went into her defensive paranoia when strangers appear suddenly. When I opened the door, Nancy and Nita, our neighbors, were standing on the front steps. Behind them was a child's wagon, full of cooking dishes. One of the dishes was sending steam into the crisp January air.

Nancy handed me a paper that told the story of black-eyed peas being spared by northern troops burning Confederate crops because they thought the black-eyed peas were weeds. As a result, starving southerners had something to eat and have thus considered black-eyed peas lucky ever since, a feeling nourished by the ability of the peas to grow in the poorest of soil and leading to a superstition that has survived into two centuries.

The steam from the wagon turned out to be a pot of black-eyed peas, to which Nancy and Nita had added "cabbage for money and cornbread for love." The cabbage was slaw, and they were serving up paper dishes of any or all of their wagon load, along with their wishes for a happy and productive new year. The neighborhood had struck again.

Advertisement

The Christmas holidays have always offered a special venue for the neighborhood to express its heart. Happily, the removal of our identity as Santa Ana Heights hasn't changed our nature. Neither has annexation by Newport Beach nor the sign that now calls us Bayshore. We still throw an Easter egg hunt and have a communal dinner for all every Thursday and support one another in countless ways. But the Christmas holidays are when we really shine. It starts with the luminaries that grace our streets on Christmas Eve and ended this year with Nancy and Nita and their wagon of good will. In between, there was the usual neighborhood Christmas party, hosted in three different homes. .

Like the baseball sitting on my desk. It rests in a replica of a seat at Wrigley Field in Chicago and was given to me while the Altobelli family, young and old, was filling bags with sand and candles on Christmas Eve. An inscription on the ball that said "Forever Fan Patricia Altobelli, 2006" was a posthumous holiday greeting to her neighbors from her own branch of heaven from where Pat Altobelli, who died last year, can continue her lifelong vigil to get her beloved Chicago Cubs into the World Series.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles
|
|
|