Love Your Neighbor

Conversing with Margaret Comarella about her neighbors Joe and Myrtle Montgomery has a way of erasing time.

Pointing out tiny stitches on a stack of handmade quilts, Margaret recalls Myrtle cutting, pinning, and stitching for hours. This was how Myrtle spent evenings, without modern distractions stealing her hours. While quilting, Myrtle turned her attention to her companions – whether friend, family, or neighbor.

In a photo from the legendary ‘Blizzard of ’78,’ Joe and Myrtle stand on either side of an International Harvester pickup, a small dog turned toward Joe, the trees glistening white. This truck could conquer snowdrifts crossing any country road and would help them lend a hand to anyone who was snowbound.

“That’s my little dog, Ralphie,” Margaret remembered. “During that blizzard, I decided to stay down in Indianapolis. Ralphie was home alone, so Joe walked across the fields to collect him. Arriving home, Joe put Ralphie down to relieve himself before going inside to warm up,” Margaret laughed, “-and Ralphie took off, right back across the fields to our house! Joe went back too, even though it was getting really dangerous. He told me, ‘I couldn’t leave him out there- you would have been without a dog!”

As a girl growing up on a farm outside of Lapel, Margaret didn’t have many neighbors, but she had two of the best. Joe and Myrtle Montgomery demonstrated what it is to “Love Your Neighbor.” Recently, Margaret donated a stack of Myrtle’s hand-stitched quilts to the South Madison Community Foundation. The income from their sale will be added to the “Love Your Neighbor” fund in honor of Joe and Myrtle Montgomery.

Now, Joe and Myrtle’s farm is the neighborhood known as “Montgomery Farms,” where new friendships among neighbors are being forged. May these relationships be as caring and meaningful as those that came before.