My name is Hec Thompson and I am from this side. For my entire life, I have been taught by my father to dislike, distrust, and generally think ill of my neighbors, the Nanleys. Dad always said that Nanleys were loathsome low down cusses. You needed to keep a close eye on them. Don’t ever trust a Nanley.
For years, I thought as I was taught. I looked down my nose at them when I couldn’t avoid them entirely. Then I actually got to know Old Man Nanley’s girl, Becca. She was cute as a button and had the prettiest green eyes and long curly brown hair. When I started at the county high school, she was in one of my classes. Prior to that, we had never met because we attended different schools.
Before you know it, We were talking at lunch and seeing each other at dances. It took me a whole two months to work up the courage to ask her out to see a movie. Not that I was afraid that she would turn me down. More because I was afraid of what my father would do when he found out.
Becca and I were steady for two years before dad discovered that I was courting her. He threw up a real stink. Grounded me, gave me extra chores, and generally made my life miserable.
When Becca and I eventually got married, my father refused to attend the wedding. Mom and my little brother, Henry were there, but dad washed his hands of the whole thing. Dad never visited our home for the first two years of our marriage. It wasn’t until our boy was born that dad walked through my front door. I know mom forced him to go. It wasn’t like dad to ever swallow his pride.
As he was leaving, I asked him what he had against the Nanleys. What terrible thing did they ever do to him? As far as I knew he never really knew them. That’s when he told me.
You see, although we were neighbors, the Nanleys were from over on that side. Not this side. In my dad’s mind, the chasm between our two families was too wide for him to bridge. God had put that big ditch there for a reason and that was good enough for him.
Becca and I have now been married for 22 years and I have got to tell you. Once you get to know the people on that side, you quickly learn that they are an awful lot like the people on this side.