Jerry Finds His Neighbors

Jerry Finds His Neighbors

Jerry Britton was lonesome. It hadn't been a very happy winter so far. His father was not well, and Jerry missed doing all the things they used to do together. Then they had had to move out West where there was not a neighbor for miles around. Jerry missed his friends at school. They always went sledding or skating down on the pond after school.

Jerry went to school on the bus every day. It was not too bad, riding over the long miles to school. Still, it was not easy to get acquainted with the other fellows. They already had little groups of their own to pal around with. Ben Turner seemed like a nice enough boy. But what was the use of even trying to know him better, when Ben and his family lived nearly ten miles away?

Then winter settled down in earnest, and one Friday morning when Jerry woke, the world was white with snow.

"Oh, boy!" Jerry exclaimed in delight. "This looks more like home, doesn't it, Mother?"

But his mother's eyes were troubled. "This must be one of those storms we've read about," she said anxiously. "They don't occur very often, and I was hoping we wouldn't have one of them—our first winter."

"I wonder if the school bus will run today?" Jerry asked, his voice high in excitement. "I think I'll dash down the road to see."

"Do be careful, son," his mother warned him. "If it keeps on snow­ing at this rate, nothing can get through. Why, we might even be snowbound for days!"

Mrs. Britton began to worry about her nearly empty pantry shelves. She always did her marketing on Saturdays. Of course, there would be enough canned goods for a while, but her sick husband needed milk and eggs and other fresh foods. And what about the wood supply? The pile in the back of the house was already covered.

Jerry did not worry as he ran out into the driving storm. But after a few minutes he realized that perhaps it was not going to be fun after all.

"I must be nearly to the road now," Jerry said to himself. But then as he turned back, he realized he could not see his house. He found himself sinking deep into drifts every time he tried to take a step. He wondered if he ever would get back to the house.

Then he called, "Yoo hoo!" with all the strength he could muster. But no one answered. He didn't know how long he floundered there in the snow. It seemed like hours. But suddenly he heard a motor chug, chug, chugging along very slowly, and the sound came nearer and nearer.

"Yoo hoo!" Jerry called again.

"Yoo hoo yourself!" came a faint answer above the motor's steady hum.

Then in a few minutes Jerry made out the outline of a giant snowplow, pushing and noshig its way along like some great monster. "Hi! Who's there?" someone called from the cab.

"It's Jerry Britton," he managed to shout. "And I can't find my way back home!"

"Sit tight!" the voice called reassuringly. "Everything's going to be okay!"

The snowplow lunged to a stop and suddenly Ben Turner leaped out, followed by his father. Together they helped Jerry into the cab. Mr. Turner took off his heavy gloves and rubbed the boy's cold hands until they tingled with comforting warmth again.

"But how did you know—" Jerry began, between teeth that still chattered from fright and cold.

"We were worried about you folks," Mr. Turner explained. "So Ben and I got out the old snowplow and started over. "It's never failed us yet, so we knew it wouldn't this time."

"Mom loaded us up with supplies, too," Ben put in eagerly. "She was afraid your mother might run out of food. We don't have storms like this often, but when we do, look out! They're likely to last awhile."

"It's sure lucky for me you happened along," Jerry said. "I was lost all right."

Jerry's parents were so happy and relieved when their son and the Turners stamped in.

"What wonderful neighbors you are!" Mrs. Britton said gratefully.

"And we thought we didn't have any neighbors just because everybody lives so far from everybody else!" Jerry added.

"Being neighborly isn't really a matter of miles, or distance, I guess," Mr. Britton reflected. "It's a way of living—of caring for other folks and sharing with them, too."

Jerry and Ben looked at each other and grinned—two big, happy grins that seemed to say, "What pals we're going to be!"

There would never be a doubt in Jerry's mind again—there are neighbors everywhere!—Adapted from a story by Mary Peacock, in Juniors.

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