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Neighbor’s strange ways grab our interested attention

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Following up from last week’s column about my next door neighbor, Edwin Sayers in Wenonah, New Jersey. He was a middle-aged bachelor who had a “girlfriend” he often saw with a visit to her home.

I was 8 years old when my mother and I and my sister Jeanne moved into the bungalow home about a mile from our farm home. Both were owned by my mother’s father who was a homebuilder in nearby Philadelphia. We made this move after my dad died from a heart attack at the early age of 48.

Wow, my mother had a lot of suitors during this trying time during the big recession following World War II.

My dad, a former newspaper editor in Florida for about 10 years, had a lot of trouble getting adjusted to a good job after our family moved back to New Jersey when I was 3 years old. He found a tough job of selling Holland furnaces, and he never arrived home until after dark every night. I hardly got to know him except on weekends.

I remember the wonderful horseplay my sister, Jeanne, and I had with him and mother on Sunday mornings on their bed. And I loved to hear and watch him play his mandolin. He looked so relaxed when playing it and the entire family enjoyed those times.

Right after I bought my beautiful cream-color ‘49 Ford convertible at the Mercury dealer in Pitman where I went to investigate the car after my friend Paul had bought a blue ‘49 Ford convertible and thrilled all our “gang” when taking us for a ride with the top down, which captured the attention of bystanders in the town of Woodbury.

Edwin, the bachelor next door, reminded my brother-in-law Calvin “Cap” McKishen and me of Fred MacMurray, father of a popular TV series right on to the hat. We liked him a lot although he seemed strange to us and we only passed the time of day through our neighboring yards.

We knew Edwin to be odd, but not as much as we learned after the comments he made right after he noticed me with my “new” convertible.

“Hey, when did you trade cars, Bob!” was blurted out by my neighbor. I told him, “Earlier today,” and thought no more of it until several hours later hearing someone calling me saying, “Hey, I thought you had real whitewalls!” He had gone to the dealer and bought my old car.

I quickly replied, “Don’t tell me your problems, you didn’t buy my car from me.” That shut him up, but I was waiting for a complaint about the car not having real chrome on the grille.

Russ Niemi’s passing away shocks community

I was shocked when I heard the news that Russ Niemi (an active member of our Wake Forest Camera Club and president of the Wake Forest United Methodist Church Chancel Choir), 77, passed away Oct. 17. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Rosalie, two daughters, a grandson and two sisters plus six nieces, their spouses and several great-nieces and nephews.

I remember Russ from the first time he attended the WF Camera Club and we were looking for a new editor of our monthly club meetings. I was in that group and I looked around and saw a new attendee. Russ and I went to him and asked if he would like to serve as editor for our club’s meetings. I was surprised to see him get up and say he would try it. And he ended up doing a great job. He also did a tremendous job of designing plaques for the club.

Russ also served as president of the WF United Methodist Chancel Choir and presented me with a handsome plaque of my favorite hymn after serving in the choir for 42 years under several different directors and the present one — Elsie Shuler.

Bob Allen, publisher emeritus of The Wake Weekly, invites comments at 919-556-3059 or