This is Roald Tweet on Rock Island.
When I tell you about Bud Flowers and his family of Hannibal, Missouri, you'll see why they never could have made it into the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. No one would have believed it.
Bud Flowers, his wife, Ivy, and their four children, Lily, Pansy, Daisy, and Rose, moved in next door the Leona Pope's family back in the 1930s. As befits new neighbors, the Popes invited the Flowers over for Sunday dinner.
The following Sunday the Flowers returned, and the following Sunday, too. Within two months, they were arriving shortly after sunup so as not to miss a morsel.
The Popes began to feel a little put upon, especially since the Flowers never offered to help in the kitchen, preferring instead to wait on the cool porch to be served lemonade. Mr. Pope's favorite after dinner chair became Mr. Flowers’s favorite chair instead.
But neighbors is neighbors in Hannibal, Missouri. Not until the Flowers began to criticize Mrs. Pope's cooking did the Pope's resort to action. Mrs. Pope had a plan. Long before sunup one Sunday, the Pope's went off to Aunt Beth's. It was almost dark when they returned that afternoon, only to find the Flowers waiting. "You worried me sick," said Bud Flowers. But not too sick to have eaten the beef roast in the ice box.
Then Mr. Pope had a plan. The Pope's put a quarantine sign on the gate post. When they looked out the window the next Sunday, there were the Flowers, keeping their distance. "Sorry, Mr. Pope said, "we've got the chicken pox." "Good," said Bud Flowers, we've all had that." The Flowers proceeded once again to eat the last scrap of food in the Pope house.
Sunday dinner might still be going on at the Pope's in Hannibal, had the Flowers not come across a quaint little farm, to which they moved. The Pope's were left alone at their Sunday dinner table. If Mrs. Pope was in to cross-stitching, I'm sure one her first projects for the dining room wall was that motto from the poem Robert Frost had recently written: "Good fences make good neighbors."
Rock Island Lines with Roald Tweet is underwritten by Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.