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January 15, 2002

Get to Know Your Neighbors


Lupe knocked at the door yesterday. Lupe's our postman. If anyone knows what's going on in our neighborhood, it's Lupe.

Lupe was concerned that a reclusive neighbor hadn't picked up her mail, nor her newspaper. It wasn't like her, he said. She hadn't come to the door. So he asked me to check on her.

I went by in the evening. It was dark. But it always was at her house. No lawn. Windows covered with reflective film. I rang the bell. No response.

This morning I went by and rang it again. No response. I walked across the street to another elderly neighbor. She opened the door before I had a chance to ring. She wanted to know if I had any news.

Mrs. Alvarado had seen the recluse Sunday when a taxi driver carried the recluse into the house. The recluse's arm was in a cast. Since then Mrs. Alvarado hadn't seen her.

This time I got Nancy to go with me and we rang the bell again. Still no response. We yelled. No response.

I tried the Sheriff deputies who live next door. They were still asleep.

So I read off the recluse's name from the door bell and looked her up in the phone book and called. No answer.

Then I called the Sheriff. "We went by last night," said the dispatcher. "The deputy next door called it in. We didn't get a response."

Just then the deputy next door came outside. I walked over and asked him what he knew. "Yeah, the postman told us about the mail. So we called it in, but we're reluctant to break down the door without cause.

I introduced the deputy to Mrs. Alvarado who explained that the Taxi driver carried the recluse into the house. The deputy asked several questions then said, "that changes everything. I'll call my supervisor."

A little while later there were four squad cars and they were breaking down the rear door.

They found her on the floor. She was able to talk but couldn't get up by herself. The deputies called the ambulance and the paramedics took her to the hospital. The deputies were apologetic, saying they would have broken the door down sooner if they had known all the details.

Even so, Mrs. Sibert would have died there on the floor if the postman and some of her neighbors hadn't taken an interest.

Now I know Mrs. Sibert's name.


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