There is currently a massive snow storm along the US east coast, leaving people potentially stranded. It got me thinking about my grandparents who lived in a small town near a major interstate highway.
In those days (1940s, 50s, and 60s) , the local sheriff would keep a list of families who would be willing to take strangers into their homes when major snow storms forced highway closures. My grandparents allowed people stay in their homes, at least a dozen times, often for 2-3 days. Many became longtime friends.
Would you let strangers stay in your home if the situation arose?
Yes, I think I would. I couldn’t live with myself if I was safe and warm inside knowing there were people stuck in cars in sub-zero temperatures outside and I didn’t do anything to help. But I do agree, it is altogether different if you are a couple, and not just a woman living alone. I would feel much too nervous on my own to let strangers into my house.
I would do this, but I would be wary and keep my eyes and ears open. During two major hurricanes that knocked out our power for a couple of months, we had a generator, so we let people come in to shower, use the bathroom, cook, or store things in our fridge. We met a lot of good people during those times.
I think I would ask law enforcement to do an occasional check, and insist that no weapons be brought in the house. That said, most would probably turn down the offer because of the insufferable conditions; ; they would have to eat vegetarian food while they were here
John Muir, the traveling outdoorsman who walked from the northern to southern US borders in the 19th century and whose exploration led to the formation of national parks, thought nothing about stopping at whatever homestead he came across to ask for a meal and a place to stay. My grandmother said her family often took in people; itwas customary when hotels were few and there were such vast distances between towns and even farms. I suppose that this has been the case for thousands of years.
Oh, and I would definitely volunteer to take in a family/couple with pets
During the Great Depression, my grandmother’s house was somehow marked in a way that signaled she would feed traveling homeless. She said they always came to the back door, hat in hand, and were always grateful and polite. Most would offer to do some work outside in exchange for a meal. To the last person, they cleaned up after themselves and left the dishware stacked and neat. Sad that so many suffered, but so many were trusting enough to help. If someone came to my back door today, all my internal sirens would go off!
She was a fantastic woman, but I am not so sure she was all that special in her generosity. I think more people than not were willing to help. We are so much more institutionalized in our giving these days.
I watched a programme on TV about four or five couples racing across the world, and was amazed at the help they received from perfect strangers during their journey. Great friendships were struck, and I would think that communication between them and some of the people they met on their journey would continue after the cameras had been switched off.
This of course was not England, and I very much doubt that they would have received so much help and generosity here. Perhaps once upon a time, but not now. Very sad.