On Euclid Avenue: Something ‘we look forward to’

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

 Ruth Dickinson and her partner, David Warner, on Easter Sunday, put out two large tables on their Euclid Avenue home’s front lawn. 

ALTAMONT — Every evening for the past seven weeks, the wail of the Altamont Volunteer Fire Department’s 5 p.m. siren has been a call to arms for the residents of Euclid Avenue. 

And every single night since March 20, rain or shine or even snow — and usually not for much longer than the length of the siren — neighbors will make their way to their front porches or their yards to ring bells and clang pot lids, while the Gaunt boys blow big horns.

Even when there were showers, neighbors decorated umbrellas, while on another wet evening, others did their best Gene Kelly impression — singing and dancing in the rain. 

“We get to see everybody for two minutes every day, which has been a lot of fun,” said Euclid Avenue resident Ruth Dickinson, who had initially thought it wouldn’t have lasted much longer than a week, but said she and her neighbors really enjoyed seeing one another.

“So every single night we look forward to it,” she said.

Dickinson said the idea of Euclid Avenue neighbors getting outside just to say hello to one another was similar to what is going on in a lot of communities around the world — Italians under lockdown because of the COVID-19 epidemic turned entire cities into concert halls, for example.

But in Altamont, she said, it was renowned organist and piano teacher Agnes Armstrong on March 20 who posted on The Altamont Community Facebook, asking residents to stand in front of their houses and “ring a bell, blow a horn, bang on pots or pans. Make some noise and wave to your neighbor.”

Dickinson said she then sent out a message to her Euclid Avenue neighbors to gauge their interest and, well, you know the rest.

From there, Dickinson said, “We thought, ‘Hey, maybe we can do some different things.’” One neighbor banged away on a drum; Dickinson’s partner, David Warner, played his guitar one day; and birthdays have been celebrated from safe distances.

On Easter Sunday, Dickinson and Warner put two large tables on their front lawn — 12 feet apart.

There was dessert, mimosas, regular O.J., and Prosecco, she said.

People took turns getting refreshments, she said, and then got in “a great big circle,” Dickinson said, and started to talk. 

She had thought people would stay for half an hour — two hours later they were still there. “I think people are looking for a way to connect; this is a close neighborhood,” Dickinson said. Her 90-year old next-door neighbor is out there every single evening with his bell.

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