Friendliness in Corn Hill

Reprinted from “Third Ward Traits” by Charles Mulford Robinson 1899

“Everybody knows everybody else on the short broad streets of the ward-and knows all about them. It is said, indeed, by the East-siders in Rochester, that Third warders are gossips; and is not that a village failing? But if they have this weakness of a small community, they also have its virtues. There is a neighborliness in the old-fashioned country sense of the word; the neighborliness that is friendly to the verge of love, that is first to congratulate in joy and the first to comfort in sorrow, that is thoughtful to help, loyal to defend, that lends and borrows with equal pleasure; that friendliness which runs in and out, makes morning “visits” and hatless calls, whose femininity accepts, but does not require, evening escorts, since every house is the house of a friend and the streets are free of a city’s wickedness.

It is worthwhile to be sick in the Third ward, for the test of its friendliness-for the dainties which its mistress-cooks shower on one, and the books that come out of its private libraries, the flowers from is spacious gardens, and the stream of inquiries at the door. The Third ward never seems more delightfully village-like than at such a time; unless in summer, when the piazzas are the living rooms and the whole neighborhood almost one big house for one big family.

The life then, as long as it is permissible to be in town, is spent on the piazzas. Not a house in the district lacks one. They are of various kinds, but you may be sure that they all command a view of the street and the neighbors. The fancy work is done; the newspapers are read out there, and all but the suppers eaten on them. These suppers-Third warders have suppers still, at least in summer-are early; and from quarter to seven until long after darkness has descended on the shady streets, the district gives itself up to informal visiting.”

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