A young woman walking past my house recently commented that our neighborhood is nice. I agree with her and am sure most of my neighbors do too. Our neighborhood is far from having the most expensive or ritziest houses in town; we’re just ordinary people, but I believe this block is truly extraordinary.
The person who sparked my thinking about this is Kevin Mulder, the older son of my next-door neighbors, Verlyn and Robin Mulder. While Kevin was at his folks’ house recently, helping out after Ver’s knee surgery, we had a long visit in our adjacent driveways on Third Avenue Northeast. Kevin commented about the length of time that three families — his parents in the middle, me just north of them, and Jim and Sharon Boeyink just south of them — have been neighbors. He wondered out loud if the same three families living next door to each other for so many years is unique in Sioux Center.
We three families have a pretty good record of longevity, with the hands-down winners in that department being the Boeyinks. Jim’s family moved into their house when Jim was only 5 years old and he has lived there ever since (that’s 68 years)! Jim and Sharon have been married more than 50 years, raised their two daughters there and lived in that house the entire time.
Walt and I bought our house in 1980, after having lived with our four kids for nearly 10 years in the apartment in the back part of First Baptist Church. At that time the church, which no longer exists, was just west Sioux Center hospital at its former location on Highway 75. It has been 39 years since we moved into this house and neighborhood. It was a blessing to have our own home. I’ve always liked its original woodwork, many windows and lots of storage space.
Verlyn and Robin Mulder are the third couple of our trio of longtime neighbors. They bought the house next door to us in 1983 when son Kevin was a toddler and then son Steven was born a few years later. Robin‘s dream back then was a big Victorian house and she remembers Ver asking her if she would be content to live in that little house for five years or so before looking for her dream house. They’ve made the house their own Victorian style and have been content there for 36 years.
Our three contiguous houses have been home to our three families for a total of more than 140 years.
We’re not alone though; there are several more homes in our neighborhood that have been owned and lived in by the same people for 20 years or more. Next door north of me are Mark and Barb Tazelaar. Before they moved in, Mark and his father came to do some interior painting, and I asked if he had a family coming. “You won’t believe this,” he replied, “our girls are 3 ½ and 2 and we have twin boys 10 weeks old.” The Tazelaars have been here 22 years, the girls are Dordt College graduates and happily married and those little boys are well over 6 feet tall at age 22.
Next door south of Jim and Sharon is Deb Ver Hoef. Deb has lived in her house for 26 years and expressed what seems to be the sentiment on our block, “I love it. Why would I want to move?” A couple houses south of Deb, where Third Avenue Northeast and Southeast meet (but the street doesn‘t go through on the east side) is the home of John and Henrietta Vanden Brink. I think they are the longest old-timers in the neighborhood, next to Boeyinks. John and Henrietta have lived in their house 51 years, since 1968.
Down at the end of our block on the other side of the street are Paul and Carol Adkins, who have lived in their house 37 years, since 1982. Not every block in town has the perk of not only good neighbors but one who also kept law and order in town many of those years!
Directly across the street from me is Mary Bomgaars, who’d lived in her house years before we came. She’s been in her house for 41 years and, at one point, two of her siblings lived in the two houses next door to her, also a somewhat unusual situation. I’m convinced that finding on a single block so many families who have lived in their homes for so long is truly unique.
I don’t know everyone who lives on the south half of our two-block-long street, but several houses on that end of Third Avenue also have been occupied by the same families for a good number of years. This is a great neighborhood!
If you know me well, you have probably heard me say I have the best neighbors in the world. We help each other, although I have been on the receiving end much more than the giving end, especially the last few years. My neighbors have been so kind and helpful to me in many different ways. From snow removal to handyman chores to just keeping an eye on me, my neighbors have helped numerous times. My son Wayne and daughter Kristi and family also faithfully help their old mom, and my other kids would too if they lived nearby; but it’s a blessing from God to have great neighbors only a few steps away.
Kay Disch of Sioux Center is a former staff member of the Sioux Center News.