The bell rings

You know how they say life begins at 50, which by the way it doesn’t? Life began for me at about 7:30 last night.

I’d not been feeling well all afternoon. Migraine. But I hoisted my cat-fur-pantsed self off the couch around then to roll the trash cans to the curb. As I was doing so, my incredibly handsome Amazon delivery guy—and I don’t mean he’s from the Amazon but maybe he is, what do I know?—leaped up my porch steps manfully to deliver several packages, and I got yer package right here, Amazon guy.

I decided to sit on my front porch and open said packages, and they included a fair number of belated birthday gifts from readers, which was a delight and thank you. Among my gifts was a Ring doorbell from Miss Doxie. It’s like Miss Doxie knows my soul. She knows my innermost needs. I’ve been wanting a Ring doorbell ever since I moved in here to ward off the many odd knocks I get.

I was admiring it and the DVD of The Ring and The Ring II that she also sent me, along with the ring she got to marry herself over her whole three-ring theme, when a car pulled up. It was The Poet.

“Oh!” I said, as I am Dick and June. Oh! Oh! Oh! Look! See, see The Poet! “Did you text? I’ve been out here.”

“No, I just decided to show up,” she said, dropping off a bag full of snacks I love, and what was last night, June’s Boxing Day? It was my birthday all over again.

We got on the Off and commenced sitting at polar ends of my porch, catching up. As we did, my next-door neighbor walked by with a woman I didn’t know. We waved, because it’s the South and you wave. The woman I didn’t know introduced herself as Joan.

Joan. DundunDUNNNNNN.

Oh. Joan! Look! See! See Joan!

I know who Joan is because my across-the-street neighbor, Bette, is not a Joan fan. In fact, there have been several…confrontations between the two as of late. I know this because Bette has told me in no uncertain terms.

I miss these confrontations every time. “Did you hear me hollering at Joan?” Bette will ask, and I will once again lament that I miss everything and how? I’m in this tiny house all day long but I never hear a thing.

“How do I miss everything?” I always ask Bette.

Mike the Lumbee, my neighbor who painted my porch for me, had also told me all about the feud between Joan and Bette. “Oh, we’ve had to call the law,” Mike the Lumbee said. I call him this because that’s what he always calls himself. I have his business card, and it reads

Mike. Lumbee.

I am not making that up.

A Lumbee is a type of Native American indigenous to these here parts, as far as I know. I had never heard of them till I met Mike the Lumbee.

Anyway, Mike the Lumbee said the law has been called a few times when Bette and Joan feud. He always says “the law” and I rather enjoy it.

Also, Mike the Lumbee is up in everything. He’ll tell you all about everyone, whether it’s true or not. He told everyone that time the grocery delivery didn’t come after I’d ordered $130 of groceries, and that’s how he found out where the groceries accidentally got delivered. He also told everyone I make six figures, based on nothing other than the fact he once said I was a secretary and I got uppity and corrected him.

Mike the Lumbee was trying to jog my memory on who Joan was, but I assure you I’d never met her before.

“She lives with the gray-headed guy who owns the husky,” he said, and I’ve had other people tell me that before. That gray-headed guy who owns the husky. I would remember if I saw a husky, as I know everyone by their dogs, but beyond that I really want to see a man with a gray head. In my mind he’s one of those big-foreheaded aliens with a pointy chin, all gray-headed, just walking his husky.

Anyway, I assure you I’ve never seen the gray-headed man nor have I seen his housemate Joan till last night, because I miss everything.

So there The Poet and I were, chatting on my front porch. The Poet, whose parents met in Paris. The Poet, who was nominated for a National Book Award.

Suddenly there was a hullabaloo over at Bette’s across the street. Without delving into everyone’s everything like a certain Lumbee I know, I will just say that something fairly benign happened over at Bette’s that, if you had a problem with Bette, you would see as less than benign.

Then I saw Joan run over to Bette’s, about to get up in everything, and I said to The Poet, who plays the cello in a quartet, “Oh, this isn’t gonna be good.”

There Joan was in Bette’s yard, and did you ever see two cats fight?

Because Bette

BURST

out her front door. Burst out of it, like that dough that comes in the tube. And the next thing you know, those two were

SCREECHING at each other, and Bette’s husband had to come out and HOLD BETTE’S ARMS BACK while Joan was taunting her to come at her. Go ahead, come at her. She did the “come on” thing with her hands.

Oh my god it was the most exciting thing I ever saw in my life.

More members of Bette’s family came out, similarly screeching. Friends of Joan’s popped out of nowhere too. Everyone was yelling, and there was much arm-waving and F-wording, and I was a pig in clover.

I glanced over at The Poet as the law made its way to our normally quiet street. You know in Toy Story when the kid enters the room and everyone stops everything? That’s what my neighborhood usually is like for me. I come out and it’s quiet as the grave. And the one time there’s excitement, the poor Poet is on my porch in a front-row seat.

“I can tell by your appalled expression you are mortified by all this,” I said over the din, “but I am absolutely delighted.”

It was almost better than my new Ring doorbell.

Why am I like that? Why do I enjoy chaos? I grew up in a quiet house. There was no hooting and hollering. But my friends can tell you, when we used to go to bars all the time in our 20s? If there was a fist fight, I headed toward it, not away from it. I’d walk over to the flying chairs. I just love it. I’m certain this speaks to a terrible flaw in my personality, but join the club, flaw.

Anyway, when the law came, he made Joan go to one side of the street and Bette to the other. This did not stop them from hurling epithets at each other across the way.

It was right then, with the law holding the woman back and them yelling across the street, that

putputputputputput

here comes Mike, the Lumbee Indian, driving down the middle of our street on his riding lawnmower. He cuts everyone’s lawn here, except mine, a fact that rankles him. But there he was, the town crier, putputputting right in the middle of all that drama.

He looked left.

He looked right.

And just shook his head all the way back to his house.

When it was over and everyone had gone to their separate corners, my neighbor Bette made her way to my porch. “I wanted to apologize for my French,” she said, speaking to The Poet, who I think actually speaks French.

“But, June, YOU FINALLY SAW SOMETHING!” she exclaimed.

And that was how life began last night at around 7:30 on my quiet street in my quiet town.

109 Comments

  1. Oh this story is up there with the Talulah eating the bird from animal control’s net! And the Poet detail makes it even better!! I am laughing so hard right now.

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  2. I discovered this just today and it was like I found a forgotten candy bar at the bottom of my purse. One of your top five, June, for sure. Delightful storytelling. Thank you for the great read.

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  3. I live in the Fayetteville area and we have a lot of Lumbee people here! We had a brawl in my neighborhood the other day and it made me nervous wreck. No thank you, please.

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  4. The woman in your header appears to be thinking, “I never see anything. But, June, YOU FINALLY SAW SOMETHING!”.

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      1. “while Joan was taunting her to come at her. Go ahead, come at her. She did the “come on” thing with her hands.”

        It must be the name. I have been known to do the “come on” thing with my hands…in a McDonald’s drive-thru.
        I’ve grown since then.

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  5. Growing up in the south was interesting. This story is exactly why we sit on our front porches. I could just picture this happening as I read the post.

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  6. My aunt’s neighborhood is “lively” and one night when I was visiting, we heard what sounded like gunshots. No still if the people in her living room hit the floor; I popped outside to see what was happening. Ding dang van backfired. Great post, June! Happy birthday Boxing Day to you.

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    1. Thing 2 (Her.) always yells at me because I’m the one who goes running outside if I hear what sounds like gunfire. Inquiring minds want to know.

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  7. This absolutely made my day! A pig in clover…..putputputput! I can’t wait for Mike the Lumbee to come over and finish the porch so you can hear his take on it. Please never move and set up that Ring doorbell right quick so you can catch the sequel. Thank you for this, hope you’re feeling better.

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  8. Is there a law somewhere that if you are a Bette (Davis) that you are required to feud with a Joan (Crawford)? Good gravy!! Yes, I do love some excitement as long as I am not involved.
    And now I will spend some time with Mr. Google learning about the Lumbee and their ways.

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    1. I did that too! We have a town of Lumberton here outside of Philadelphia. Nothing came up about Native Americans.

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  9. This had me on the edge of my seat! What a story!

    What book did the Poet write that was up for the National Book Award?

    Lovely post, lovely June~

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    1. She writes books of poetry. Don’t know which one it was. She’s won all kinds of things. Sarah Lindsay. Look her up!

      >

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      1. Oh! She went to St. Olaf! How cool!!! Thanks for giving me her name. I am looking for poems for my students to write beside this semester.

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        1. They teach her at UNCG—that’s the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She never mentions this. I’d mention it ALL OF THE TIME.

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  10. I love that your description of the neighborhood brawl has garnered 82 comments. You tell a riveting story.
    putputputputputput

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  11. Sounds like you and The Poet had the best seats to some great evening entertainment. Great storytelling… just like your grandmother.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was thinking the same thing. This post for me was so much like reading Grammy! You are both wonderful storytellers.

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  12. I was so tickled learning about the Lumbee tribe, having NEVER heard of them although I pride myself on having a good amount of knowledge of the tribes and pueblos, that I was gobsmacked by the neighborhood brawl! Mike. Lumbee! Bette vs. Joan! Please do not hesitate to tell us more!

    When we first moved to our town, we went to a barber/stylist who cut the hair of absolutely everyone we knew. Pretty soon it became clear that he liked to tell stories about all the people we knew while he was cutting our hair. We stopped going there pretty quick.

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  13. I share your joy at seeing people behaving like nuts. I think it’s because it’s so out of my character that I’m so amused by it. Why have we not seen your haint blue porch ceiling??

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  14. I enjoyed this post SO MUCH! You’re going to need to keep popcorn on hand whenever you sit out on your porch because the Bette and Joan Feud is better than any movie!

    I live on a corner and my end of the street is so quiet compared to the shenanigans that go on between folks in the middle and end of our street. Let’s see, there’s the drug dealer who is loathed by everyone on our street. Hopefully, he’ll be leaving soon as his landlord just put the house on the market. Then there’s the neighbors who were in such a feud that both sets got restraining orders against each other even though they lived next door to each other. The cops were called on a weekly basis for that feud and I’ll be honest, I’m surprised someone didn’t end up dead, it was that ugly. Then there’s the guy who will vandalize any car that parks in front of his house. And by “vandalize” I mean he will smear condiments all over the windshield and sides of the vehicles. Then there’s the 2 sets of neighbors who are feuding over property lines. Cops get called regularly on each other as well. Our street has its own Facebook page so I usually hear about the various feuds that way instead of seeing it happen in Real Time.

    Awesome post, June!

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  15. Oh I would have been delighted as well! We have a few people around our neighborhood who will do things like this, or other, potentially drug-induced things, and two of my other neighbors always get texts from me if I see or hear it first. How exciting!

    Also, ring doorbells are pretty cool. If they do any cat fights in view of it, it will record it for you!

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  16. I love a good clean neighbourhood fight. As long as it doesn’t involve the children or violence. One time the fire brigade, ambulance AND the law were called across the road. I’m all .. get the popcorn and a beer and come sit on the front patio.

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  17. Man, nothing like that happens here on the drive of the whispering spring. Of course, I work away from here all the time so maybe I miss it all. Who knows? What excitement! And a friend to share it with! (with which to share? IDK)

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  18. I LOVED the “Joan. DundunDUNNNNNN”- part of this post. In fact, I loved the whole post, and giggled all the way through it just like a 1st grader. I love neighborhood drama, as long as it’s not mine, but then again, I never have any neighborhood drama. I don’t usually comment, but this post was just too great not to let you know how it made my day!

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  19. I love that Bette is spelled like Bette Davis, I love Mike.Lumbee. and Nancy the Husky. What is it about the south that makes people so uniquely weird? Is it the heat or the humidity or the lightning bugs? That was a great yarn, Coot.

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  20. I have a technical question #trulytechnicallychallenged. When you get you new Ring installed will it be possible to keep the audio on so if there’s more drama you will hear it and can move to the porch? Also too, if you miss the drama in person will the Ring capture it on video for later viewing?

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      1. The ring will capture about 30 seconds after it senses movement, but if you’re aware and know a fight is happening in real time, you can go onto live view and watch as long as you want!

        Liked by 1 person

  21. My stomach is shaking from laughing quietly. Three of the six people here are sleeping. Nervous tick! This is the best post ever!

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  22. This sentence right here: In my mind he’s one of those big-foreheaded aliens with a pointy chin, all gray-headed, just walking his husky. This sentence is why I read you every day. At 54 and cynical as hell it takes a lot for me to laugh out loud but you June Gardens make that happen on the regular. What a visual picture you paint with them their words of yours.

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  23. put put put… lol That was just the best! Funny funny – such a blessing to read this morning! haha…. Needed that. All day listening to wah, wah, wah…. sigh. You really know how to tell a story, June! Can’t stop smiling!

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  24. Your description was almost as good as being there. Lord love a duck, I love the drama too. I attribute that to growing up in chaos. I keep a quiet life myself but I do get my kicks from observing. I laughed through this whole post.

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  25. When you said yesterday was Boxing Day, you weren’t kidding. I would have been hiding with The Poet when the neighborhood drama started. I don’t like conflict. Thankfully, I’ve never seen it around here, but I’ve heard stories of neighborhood drama before we moved here.

    Mike the Lumbee riding down the street in the middle of it, getting new stories to share with everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Wonderful post. Thanks for telling such a good story. (flat comment for such a dynamic post but it’s what I got this morning.) I truly hope your headache goes away. I feel for you and everybody else reading this morning through their headaches.

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  27. If I lived there I would be ringside watching the drama, my energy-o-meter going from 0 to full just soaking up the chaos. The thing I miss most in these pandemic times is being able to be an energy vampire from people watching. I’m glad you finally got to SEE SOMETHING.
    Is Mike the neighbor who wants to mow your yard but you don’t want him to because he wants you to pay in cash and who uses cash anymore? Or was that someone else?
    Buying your little mill house was the best thing you’ve ever done.
    Lovely post, pretty June.

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  28. This post made my day. I started laughing out loud when the lawnmower putt-putt-putted down the street. You’re the best, June.

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  29. Bette and Joan!
    Yay for extended birthday celebrations.
    I’m glad you got to see the excitement.

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  30. I love the idea that your street is similar to Toy Story and evwrything gets quiet when you appear. The guy getting rankled to not do your lawn cracks me up.

    I can so see my fued with my impossible neighbor Mary Ann turning into this if her packages continue to be delivered to my house by mistake through NO FAULT OF MINE. I tried to march over to her driveway last time she melted down about it so I could give her a piece of my mind. My children physically built a wall-o-bodies to interfere . . . only 1 of the six was ready for me to throw down. I guess Coach’s peaceful approach has influenced majority of our offspring. So, I guess I just need to try harder to show them that telling people what for is the only way.

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  31. Great start to my day! My small condo association has a few Nutty McNutjobs, one of which lives right across the hall from me. He’s never thrown the f-word at me, but his anger management issues keep me at a distance.

    Porch is done being painted? Pictures, please!

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  32. That is the best thing I’ve read in a long time. Thank you! Happy to hear you got to hang out with the Poet, too.

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  33. It’s like a real housewives fight in person!
    Lovely post, hope your migraine goes away completely very soon!

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    1. But even better because put, put. putt…Mike the lumbee on his lawnmower coming down the street. I loved the whole thing but that was the topper!

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  34. I think you need to move your desk to the front window of your house and ever miss another thing! This was hilarious.

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  35. Congratulations on FINALLY SEEING SOMETHING! Being drawn to watching others behave badly is why there are 2.6 million members of the Public Freakout subreddit.

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  36. Absolutely divine!! I adore this post so very much.
    The secret’s out. Now everyone knows why southerners REALLY want front porches.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. I thought Audra said the Hussy’s name was Nancy. (#readingfail)

    I love the lawnmower bit… perfection!

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  38. This reminds me of my grandparents’ next door neighbors [they lived in midtown Atlanta] that had, what my granddad called “cuss fights.” The cuss fights were often, but one Sunday afternoon [all of my grandparents’ kids and grandkids were on the porch quietly visiting] the fight started, but this time there was a gun involved and bullets flying and the husband running out of the house and down the street, so we all decided it was time to go inside.

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  39. I LOVED this post! Once again you painted such a vivid picture of what was happening we don’t need a photo. Poor Poet. This certainly was a distraction to your headache.

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  40. I live in whitebreadville, as well. I don’t think I ever remember anyone in my town coming to fisticuffs in the 50+ years that I’ve lived here. Peace is a wonderful thing, but it’s definitely not exciting. I just about died at Mike. Lumbee. driving through the melee on his lawnmower. I was sure you were then going to say that’s when the Poet fainted. She sounds so refined, that she would visibly flinch at the f-word (like my mom does), and the lawnmower would have finished her off!

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      1. My stomach is shaking from laughing quietly. Three of the six people here are sleeping. Nervous tick! This is the best post ever!

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  41. I almost spit out a mouth full of coffee at “Oh my god it was the most exciting thing I ever saw in my life”. I’m positive I would have felt the same way, it sounds like it was so very exciting! I feel like my morning can’t start until I read your blog post.

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  42. Wow – what a night!! I wonder what the history is on those two?! How did all that drama get started? It’s been so hot around here, I can’t imagine anyone being outside for longer than 30 seconds.

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    1. Well, Joan has decided she doesn’t approve of Bette’s whole life and setup, over there, and has made this known. Bette does not appreciate this opinion.

      >

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  43. Great post! How exciting! Shook his head all the way back to his house, so great, I can just picture it!

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    1. Mine, too. When we decide which neighbors we all hate, everyone just stops speaking to each other.

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  44. “Lovely post” just doesn’t seem to cut it on this one. I feel like entire scenario needs to be set to black and white silent movie mode! Your neighborhood is so interesting. The most live action theater we get around here is a parking war once in awhile.

    Hoping your migraine doesn’t leave any lasting effects into today. You’re pretty!

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  45. Love the post – such front seat access to drama!
    When you want to learn more about the Lumbee Tribe and their history, look here: https://www.lumbeetribe.com/history–culture “The 55,000 members of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina reside primarily in Robeson, Hoke,Cumberland and Scotland counties. The Lumbee Tribe is the largest tribe in North Carolina, the largest tribe east of the Mississippi River and the ninth largest in the nation. The Lumbee take their name from the Lumbee River which winds its way through Robeson County. Pembroke, North Carolina is the economic, cultural and political center of the tribe.”

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  46. Oh, this was an exciting read! I have almost missed the drama, since I retired from my drama-filled job. My husband went to visit his family for a few days and regaled me with their stories of self made chaos last night. I am so glad I stayed behind with the two dogs and two cats.

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  47. a.) Lumberton is very close to where I live. That’s how I found out about the Lumbee Indians. Also, the river usually floods after storms.
    4.) Ten years ago, I was the “Joan” of my hood. I had an alcoholic idiot living here. He really pushed my buttons. My neighbor fondly recalls the time I smacked the idiot so hard his glasses fell off. Neighbor said he & his wife were cheering me on & they thought I was a badass. My mom would be appalled if she knew this.
    Finally. Thanks, Coot, for the great recap of last night’s events in your hood. It brought me much joy.

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      1. Um, not really “from” Lumberton. The Lumbee are an amalgamation of several tribes (people who spoke dialects u may have heard of like – Algonquin, Iroquois, etc). They once lived all over. The name Lumbee comes from the Lumbee River. I don’t really know much. Just a smidge a Lumbee friend shared. It is a sad history.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I love this post. I love your story weaving. I am so excited for your future, now that you will have a Ring doorbell! You’ll never miss the action again.

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        1. Well. I guess I got confused. the Lumbee has a bus with their name and town on it. I just thought they were doing pretty good if they had a bus to travel around in. They shopped at the goodwill where I worked. They probably still do. I quit there a year ago.

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  48. Oh, you have a MUCH more interesting neighborhood than our white, white, white bread one. One must have 3 acres of land per lot here so we are fairly spread out so not much of the running to the yard and hollering. I guess the most exciting was when someone rented out their home to a group home for mentally disabled and one of the residents decided they were going to kill another one. The law came.

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    1. Other than Mike, who is a Lumbee in case I didn’t mention it, everyone here is white as the snow. But you mean, like, more middle class rather than white, I imagine. But just to clarify. So you can get the proper visual.

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      1. Yes, you are right June. I was trying to indicate we are a boring, bland little city. But there are good things about that as opposed to my in-laws neighborhood which is extremely rural and now seems to be overrun with meth labs and crack heads. Who knew they were taking over middle-of-nowhere small Southern farms? But they do have the occasional altercation where everyone brings their lawn chairs out to the front yard to take a gander.

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  49. What excitement!! Lol. Mike the lumbee driving on his lawn mower was the icing on the cake. That really had me doubled over. Lol.

    Your street is something else. 🤪

    Ps. That husky is named Nancy.

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              1. June, the gray headed guy might be over 70 which would also make him invisible to you and others.
                Great story , I was there with your words. Thanks for taking us there with you.

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