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Saturday, July 30, 2011

No. 57 (Part 1) Neighborhoods, Families, Homes & People

The Neighborhood

The Harkers Island of my youth was a series of adjoining circles that in one way or another were connected to every other circle on the Island. From Shell Point to Rush Point the entire community could have been divided into neighborhoods, and the neighborhoods into extended families.

From the Yeomanses at the east'ard to the Brookses at the west'ard, every home might have been assigned to both a neighborhood and to one or more extended families. Even within the latter there lay still smaller circles that were the nuclear families, almost always housed under a single roof, but still nestled within both a larger family grouping and one of the many neighborhoods that filled the whole Island.

My family’s home was situated amid a dozen or more similar sized and shaped houses belonging to the “Charlie Hancock crowd.” That enclave was surrounded by three other extended-family groups, the Willises, Guthries, and Moores, to whom we were blood related in at least one way, and often two or more.

Envisioning a snapshot of that neighborhood focused at about the time I was ten years old would show a group of thirty-seven houses, give or take only a couple. They stretched from the south shore of the Island on Back Sound northward at least half way across the Island toward Westmouth Bay. On the south border it ran east to west from the homes belonging to Harding Guthrie and his children to the homesteads of the families of Rennie and Dankie Willis.

On its northern end it was flanked by the families of Willie Guthrie and Aaron Moore to the east, and the assembled Hancock and Moore children and grandchildren to the west. In between, each and every home housed at least one of these four primary family names. Many had two, and some even three of those surnames represented. As for the scores of cousins who were the grandchildren of those patriarchs, our relationships were sometimes so complicated that we just knew we were “kin,” even if we could not explain exactly how.

(Next, “The Children”)

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