Look in the dictionary under the word "neighbor" and it states as one of the definitions, "to have friendly relations; associate on friendly terms." The word neighborhood has a definition of, "people living near one another; community." The phrase, "The whole neighborhood pitched in and helped during the flood," is used by Webster's as an example.
But sometimes, neighborhoods become locked doors and strangers passing by in SUVs and minivans. Friendly turns to ice. But Friday night, Halloween, under the guise of potential cavities and freebies, is a chance to roll down the window. One night to celebrate that you live in a place so great that you can send your kids to not walk, but gallop, run, rush, to neighbors' front doors to get candy. You can stomp on that neighbor's manicured grass with gleeful impunity. Whoop in the middle of the street after dark without the cops rushing in. All for no other reason than to be nice.
Now that is a holiday.
Take Jim Lowery for example. Jim Lowery lives in the Soft Winds Village neighborhood off Ogden Road that had house fires two weeks ago so bad that five homes were burned. Yet, Lowery showed up -- driving a hearse -- to help his neighbors. Yes, a 1985 hearse, black, longer than a politician's lie, bought from a funeral home a year-and-a-half ago. It is his everyday car.
"I drive it to church," Lowery said. "I drive it to work. I got stopped at a license checkpoint by two different cops not long ago, coming and going, and they both asked, 'You got anybody back there?' Gets people's attention, that's for sure."
"You should have seen the looks we got when I went into labor, and I had to go to the hospital in the hearse," said daughter Tara.
"Tell him about grandpa," said another daughter, Elizabeth.
"Well, my father died, and we were going to bury him in Florida next to my mother," Lowery said. "They wanted more than $500 to get him there. So I drove him."
Yes, Lowery got the required permits and drove almost a dozen hours to Florida with his father's body in the back of his own hearse.
"People sure did stare when we would get out at a rest stop," Lowery said.
So this is clearly a guy who loves Halloween and won't allow people who worry about safety to ruin it. Cops legitimately advise people not to send their kids into strange places without supervision, but neighborhoods on Halloween should be places filled with raucous kids.
There is even a couple in Clover that has four hearses. And a fake cemetery in the front yard.
"We have a '55, a '72, an '81 and an '87," said Doug Rhodes of his hearses.
Near Lowery's garage Friday night will be a sign that states: "Morgue." On his porch last Halloween, Lowery had a casket. Open. With a skeleton in it.
"Kids loved it, the parents were a little nervous," Lowery said.
Yet, Lowery is no creepy neighbor. He is a music minister at a Lutheran church in York, who even has organ pipes he's restoring stored in the back of the hearse. The hearse ostensibly was bought because the back is long enough for those big pipes, but clearly Lowery likes his wheels because it gathers attention. That attention for the neighbor who drives the hearse will never be higher than Friday night on Halloween.
"The way I look at being a neighbor on Halloween is, I want everybody here to know that my house is a safe, fun place for kids to come," Lowery said.
So people can hole up in their homes Friday as darkness falls, with the lights off and hide. Or not send their kids out to meet neighbors they might need some day. Those people are not, as the dictionary shows, "neighborly."
Or you can do what people like Lowery do, which is make the night a celebration of community. Open the door to eager faces. Wave to the parents and older siblings who walk those kids around. Remember the faces.
So if there is ever a fire, or any crisis, that flood that the dictionary talks about, the person you will help is more than an address. He will have a kid who smiled at you with an open bag.
Oh yeah, you can't miss Lowery's house, either. He lives on April Showers Lane. The last house.
"Dead end," Lowery said.