I recently sold a home for a client I've known for decades. After a college friend referred her to me, she and I went on to become friends ourselves. And now that she's retired, she wants to move back to her birth state of Maine. I write about her as the perfect example of survival lessons learned during the pandemic.
Two decades ago, she closed escrow on her home in a Salt Lake neighborhood near Tanner Park in Millcreek. Called Veterans Heights, the subdivision was developed in the late 1940s after the troops from World War II returned home and wanted to get back to a normal life. Many veterans helped the developer dig out the basements to save money in the build process.
The streets were named after famous and respected military commanders from that war. For example, my client's street, Barbey Drive, was named after Navy Vice Admiral Daniel E. Barbey, known as the founder of modern amphibious warfare. A recipient of the Navy Cross, he commanded the Southwest Pacific Area amphibious forces, mostly in the Philippines and Borneo.
The veterans cared about one another, so the quality of the build job was extremely good, and the homes there have weathered the passage of time quite well.
My client didn't know anyone in the neighborhood when she got the keys to her new home. Slowly, she met her neighbors, and friendships were formed that later became weekly get-togethers in their driveways.
When it came time to sell, she wanted her listing to include the following: "This is a diverse and wonderful neighborhood with a broad age range, multiracial, wide variety of religious beliefs and gay/straight folks!"—not your typical real-estate description.
She said that over the years, she and the neighbors formed a community by finding commonalities while getting to know each other at their porch picnics.
"When someone became sick or needed surgery," she said, "we'd organize to make sure they got meals, garbage bins were taken out, lawns were mowed, etc." The neighbors made a contact list as to who lived where, what animals they had (and their names), names of children, where they worked and who to contact in case of emergency.
A woman living across the street rarely came out of her home before the pandemic. After many invites, she started showing up and bringing a hot dish to donate, sitting 6 feet apart with the others in the driveway. She became friendlier and friendlier, and now she keeps a good watch on the neighborhood.
"It took the pandemic for her to come out of her shell to talk to others, and now she's happily involved in the give and take of a tight knit and friendly neighborhood," she said. "People here are respectful of different opinions and beliefs and accept each other. I'm really going to miss my neighbors here!"
After signing her final papers at the title company, I drove home thinking that I need to do better and learn more about my neighbors—pandemic or no pandemic.