Neighborhood reunites for annual event

By Bryan Richardson

After going through so much together over the years, the Dix neighborhood used Saturday to add to their collection of stories.

The neighborhood was one of 27 areas celebrating the 12th annual Manhattan Day, which takes place on the first Saturday in June with a series of neighborhood get-togethers. It represents the approximate time two groups of settlers formed the city in 1855.

Dix neighborhood residents had a garage sale from 7 a.m. to noon before the late-afternoon cookout. About 30 people showed up to celebrate the first time the neighborhood had participated in Manhattan Day.

“We just decided we’d put one together to see who’d show up,” Jackie Bell, resident of nearly 26 years, said. “We put flyers on doors, even those we didn’t know.” The neighbors wore name tags with their address, although they weren’t needed since many of the neighbors have known each for more than 20 years.

It was reminiscent of the old days for the neighborhood. Bell said the neighbors used to have parties in her driveway every weekend about 10 years ago, but they haven’t had large gatherings of this nature in a while.

The cookout took place on the lawn of Eddie and Jana Clark, residents of almost 10 years. Their house served as a backdrop to the day, but the structure didn’t exist on Christmas 2010. They lost everything when their home burned down Dec. 22 of that year.

The couple said they have great neighbors who were there for them during that difficult time.

“They helped us out all they could,” Eddie said.

The Clarks lived in a rental home until last July when they moved back to the neighborhood.

Jana said there was never an idea about moving elsewhere. She said it is a perfect location to run her daycare.

Bell said, “Everybody helps everybody.” It could be the motto of the neighborhood. The residents been through plenty together, including kids growing up and leaving, times of sickness, and the flood of 1993, when the vast majority of the neighborhood had to move for a while because of flood damage.

Bell experienced the helping hand of the neighborhood when she had a car accident on the day after Christmas two years ago in Montana. She spent six weeks in a hospital away from her home.

“While I was in the hospital, my neighbors took care of everything,” she said. “When I got home, they started taking care of me as I went through rehab.”

The bond that’s grown in the area over the years is evident through the stories of the past and the loose, joking manner they have with one another.

Eddie watched as four of the men stood next to the grill. Eddie is considered the neighborhood grill master, competing in grilling contests in his spare time.

They asked him why he wasn’t helping out cooking the hot dogs. Eddie just stood and laughed, already having provided pork tenderloin for the function. “I just came out, and those guys were playing with the grill,” he said.

The hot dogs joined the tables full of barbecue, sides and deserts. True to this neighborhood’s nature, the gathering was a potluck.

“We have a lot of fun with each other,” Bell said.

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