When I got an email at work recently saying that the father of a good friend who lives a few houses down from us had died, my first thought was, “I wonder if the neighbors know?” I called my husband, who said our neighbor Kathleen already had knocked on doors to spread the sad news. So, I turned my attention to several neighbors who have moved away over the years and emailed as many as I could.
I am sure almost all of our current and former neighbors attended the service, delivered food, made a donation to a charity or sent a card. That is the culture of our cul-de-sac.
Our neighborhood is not unique. Caring for and supporting one another is the culture of many Mt. Lebanon neighborhoods. People surely are busier than in generations past when newcomers could expect a barrage of homemade pies and cakes. And many of us try to balance friendliness with privacy, since we live in such close proximity to one another. Still, it seems most neighborhoods find a way to respond when a family in their midst encounters a death, an illness or another sort of stress, as well as to share good news of things like graduations, new babies or marriages.
Mt. Lebanon’s neighborliness may have its roots in the fact that our community developed as a series of small subdivisions—Clearview, Mission Hills, Sunset Hills, Beverly Heights, Virginia Manor, Cedarhurst Manor and many others—and each has a distinctive character. As the community matured, block parties and other fun events subdivided the subdivisions, creating allegiances not only to neighborhoods but also to particular streets.
Mt Lebanon’s historic preservation board currently is working with a consultant to nominate many of Mt. Lebanon’s older neighborhoods to the National Register of Historic Places. The narrative the consultant will present is of Mt. Lebanon’s growth from a trolley town to an early automobile suburb with streets that wind gracefully through hilly neighborhoods, planned green spaces and eclectic examples of early 20th century architecture.
If selected for the honorary designation, we will be able to take even greater pride in our well-planned and -preserved subdivisions and the vision of the early developers who built them (see M.A. Jackson’s story, page 44). But as we work to preserve and enhance our historic neighborhoods, it also is gratifying to see that Mt. Lebanon residents continue to nurture cordial relationships that have vanished in many places. Consideration for our neighbors is one of the things that makes our houses “homes” and our municipality a “community.”