My grandmother Louise was an admirable hardworking and loyal woman – to my grandfather and to her family and her friends. Throughout her life she was the “the hub” for the family – always concerned and interested in everyone’s whereabouts and how our days where. A daily call on to everyone of her 3 children on the telephone was the routine, keeping up with everyone – and also informing everyone about everyone.
After retiring as shop assistant, and moving in her later years from the house that they she and my grandfather had lived in for a life time – to a larger apartment establishment, she dedicated much her time to the people around her. She was not very outgoing or particular active in the local community as such – politically or culturally. But for 5-6 close neighbors, that she came to know well. She was very dedicated in helping them in their everyday life – particularly those that were weaker than her or the once became sick over the years. She was a force in this tiny community till she herself was to weak to support others.
As her grandchild these neighbors where almost an extended familiy. You would hear about them what they did if they had gone on an exciting news, if they have had a visit from their family, if they have had a birthday etc. etc.
Their friendship was to a large extend constituted by these social bonds and what they did was – giving and taking – helping each other out. My Grandmother in particular would bring the daily newspaper and weekly magazines around to everyone – as kind of a postman would do – she would organize washing of clothing between the others and shopping was coordinated throughout the daily routine of visiting them all for a short chit chat. Obviously drinking morning coffee and a homebaked cookie throughout the day, was the cornerstone of the daily routines, and the exchange of gossip. I suspect that my grandmother also got some favors in exchange for her daily tour of the house with newspaper and laundry – but the overall purpose was not what she could “take” but rather what giving gave her.