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My dad and I were branding mavens well ahead of our time. We decided that our neighbor who lived directly across the street from us (whom I’ll refer to as “Mrs. Broom”) was the neighborhood snoop. Dad eventually gave her the unofficial title of being the “Neighborhood Watch,” or sometimes Witch, as she was never without her companion broom.

Now this was long before such an officially recognized group had been established in suburban neighborhoods to discourage would-be robbers or others up to no good. In fact we were a good 30 years ahead of our times as the designation really didn’t come into fashion until about the 1970s.

How come we were the first to so define this type of voluntary reporter of "Life on Liberty Street?"

First, everyone knew everyone else on our quiet, small town street. Most were long time residents who were as well settled and unremarkable as the aging foundations of their homes. The men went to work and a few of the women worked at Rice Stix or Trimfoot factories, but the majority were full-time moms and housewives. These ladies stayed busy throughout the day doing chores, caring for the children and grabbing a little time out to listen to such radio programs as "Our Gal Sunday" or "Maw Perkins." Not much time or entertainment to be had watching the very mundane comings and goings of others.

Second, this one lady and her broom were quite visible on a daily basis as she was the only one consistently out sweeping the walk in front of her house or peering from behind her living room curtain. Summer or winter, sunshine or snow, she would appear carrying her trusty broom to sweep either her porch and/or walk depending on weather conditions. On most days she would sweep to the end of her front walk to scope out the landscape and, if it appeared something might be happening in the 'hood, continue sweeping half way up or down the block. If something really interesting was going on she’d give up all pretense of sweeping and simply stand, leaning on the broom, until she had identified all the players, the plot and seen its finale. We (dad and I) estimated she went through a broom every two months.

Third, while she didn’t actually socialize face-to-face much with the neighbors as the Three Fence Hens did, (another neighborhood rumor-network my dad had nicknamed that were the forerunners of Twitter) she somehow managed to spread the word of her observances through daily reports to her network of family members who called and or stopped by. So, the news would soon be circulated preceded by the disclaimer, “Mother said…” or “Mrs. Broom saw…” and become common hearsay.

Therefore, Mrs. Broom became the innovator of the Neighborhood Watch with her perpetual snooping habit that let everyone know to watch their Ps and Qs (or to become more sneaky about them) because this neighborhood was under vigilant surveillance. It was another special occurrence on Liberty Street that colored the days of my childhood. I still think of Mrs. Broom with affection and laugh each time I find myself sweeping my porch. In a way she was far more accurate and entertaining than today’s social media. At least we always knew the source for the latest “facts” that were posted.

Sugarfire is open smoking…The newest eatery in our town, Sugarfire Smoke House, had its “soft opening” last week to a packed house and received rave reviews. The latest stand in the Sugarfire chain is located at 670 Walton Dr. in Farmington. If you haven’t been yet, put it on your list of definite “Places to Go.” Don’t expect “fine dining” as this is definitely a use-your-fingers and smack-your-lips place.

Art on Display…local artist Jerry Walters has two woodcuts on display at the Open Theme Annual Juried Art Show at Webster Arts Center. The show is running now through Feb. 28 at 483 E. Lockwood, Low Level, Schultz Hall, Eden Campus. Stop in to admire the display and Jerry’s work. Quite an honor to be one of the selected artists!

Two birthday ‘boys’…Well-known BRD horseman Albert Cleve and local Attorney Chris Hartmann both recently celebrated milestone birthdays. Though a few decades difference in age, they both were happily celebrated by gatherings of their families and friends. Hope the special days herald another great year for each of them.

A personal invitation to join Mark Toti and me on Monday morning, Feb.12 as we talk with Steve Hedgecorth, Chief Loan Officer of Ozark Federal on “everything you want to know about home loans”. Join us on “Speaking of That” at 9:30 a.m. on KREI.

This week signals the opening of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. I, along with millions of other viewers, will be glued to my TV set to watch the usual spectacular opening and then to keep tabs on the performances of the various USA athletes as they go through their rigorous paces during the two weeks of competition. Hopefully, there will be no unplanned fireworks or displays of violence and the games will go off without problems and in peace. Stay tuned.

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