It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
This little enclave in Oak Island redefines what it means to be neighborly.
On the surface, this little enclave in Oak Island looks like hundreds of other older Brunswick County shore communities. No cookie-cutter houses here, and no McMansions — at least that we could see. No sidewalks, lots of trees and folks either park on the grass or in gravel cutouts they made for themselves. And a dead-end street to the water.
You might not find Mr. Rogers in a cardigan among this rather unique “homeowners association,” but you will find Fran and Judy — the “Shady Ladies.” And you’ll find Frau Dagmar, the only authentic German at their recent Oktoberfest party who didn’t know a single German song I sang to her. You might also meet appropriately attired “Hans Lederhosen,” an active-duty leatherneck from Camp LeJeune. And you might meet Pierre Hamel, who was an actual NHL goalie from 1974 to 1981.
Whoever you meet is guaranteed to be friendly and welcoming. It’s a core group of about 10 neighbors that started this partying group, which convenes at least weekly to celebrate life and each other. They sometimes even get together more than weekly for impromptu pizza/porch parties.
Their bonds go deeper than that, however, as the stories I heard reveal that they frequently rely on each other for help in emergencies and non-emergencies, from ER visits to remodeling properties, and even to elder and pet care.
This neighborhood association really has no name — at least none that’s safe to print in a family publication — but the acting “president” did authorize the use of “The Sixth Street Crazies.” The “real” president — Connie — was away in Virginia with her vice-president husband Paul for a funeral, so Eve Martin took over.
An amorphous group, which grows and recedes based on who is invited back after attendance at one visit, The Crazies’ event that I visited was an Oktoberfest Party, complete with tons of food, beer, cleavage-accentuating dirndl girls and a DJ. Two four-footed members — Bella and Brody — also attended, eager to help anyone clean their plates.
It was not held in its usual spot — the large, “Jesus-tabled” back patio of the Shady Ladies Cantina, but in what Eve called “our community center,” a separate party house owned by Jody and Deke, laid out expressly for partying. In one of life’s unending ironies, we learned that hostess Jodi (who works for NASA) was a former student at the school in which I taught. So, it was a reunion of sorts as well.
There were close to 40 folks at this party, and while the eating, talking, laughing and dancing were the main vibe, one could not help but sense that special bond, especially among many of the core members, who not only genuinely like each other but also evince a palpable concern for each other.
We got invited to this soireé because Eve, who mostly wears a Realtor’s hat, is also my missus’ nail tech. I suppose we passed the HOA “smell test,” because we got invited back for their special New Year’s Eve party.
And since the “core” all live within walking distance of each other, the possibility of the revelers attracting a DUI seems remote at best.
For them, anyway.
At one party, Eve’s husband, Marty Martin, asked the DJ to play an hour past his original 10 pm contract time. The DJ wanted to accommodate the request, but warned that Oak Island had a 10 pm noise ordinance banning any loud music after that time.
The DJ then scanned the packed back patio of the Shady Ladies’ Cantina, and said, “I’ll do it, because all the neighbors who might complain are here anyway.”
Now that’s a community that cares.