I don’t understand some people

When one moves into a new neighborhood, surely one concern that one would have is how one gets on with one’s new neighbors. If they welcome you, then that is great because having cordial relationships with the people who live around you adds so much to the quality of life. Even though our children have grown and we really no longer need the hassle of maintaining a house, one of the things that keep up from moving into an apartment is because we enjoy our neighbors and the neighborhood so much.

So I am baffled by the actions of Annie Caddell, a white woman, who moved into a predominantly black neighborhood and even though she was welcomed into the neighborhood, decided to fly confederate flags. And then things got even worse.

A neighborhood in Summerville, South Carolina, is predominately black, and no one cared when Annie Caddell moved in seven years ago. At least, according her neighbor Juanita Edwards, no one cared at first.

“When she came here she seemed to be very nice,” Juanita said. “A little while later she started putting up Confederate flags. Every morning when I would walk out to get my newspaper, that’s the first thing you’d see. My husband stopped going to get the newspaper in the morning.”

And so began a very public fight. When the neighbors protested in front of her house, Annie invited counter protesters to stand in her yard. When the neighbors put up walls on both sides of her property to block the view, Annie put up a taller flag pole. Her brazenness made international news.

But if you click on the link, you will see that this story at least has a happy ending, thanks to an unexpected turn of events.

But I am still puzzled by her initial actions. Why go out of your way to make your neighbors feel uncomfortable?


  1. Acolyte of Sagan says

    I remember similar, equally mystifying things happening when I lived in a small village in the middle of nowhere for a few years.
    Every now and then the village got new residents who had either moved from towns or cities permanently or had bought ‘weekend’ cottages. One new arrival spent several months and, I assume, many thousands of pounds in legal fees on trying to force a farmer not to use machinery or farm vehicles before 8am because the noise disturbed his sleep, and not to walk his herd of dairy cattle past his cottage twice a day to the milking sheds and back because of both the noise and because they blocked the lane for half-an-hour each way. This, despite the indisputable fact that the cottage sat between the cows’ pasture fields and milking sheds and the lane was the pnly possible route the cattle could take.
    Yet another new arrival objected to the ‘revolting’ smells from both cattle and the liquid fertiliser that was used on the arable fields.
    A third had a bee in her bonnet about dry topsoil being blown from the fields into her garden and home, demanding -- unsuccessfully- that the farmer pay for and build a high wall around her garden (sound familiar?).
    All of their complaints -- and there were plenty more -- were about day-to-day life in farming country, and I could never understand why people who didn’t like the country life chose to buy homes in a village surrounded on all sides by working farms.

  2. Holms says

    “When one moves into a new neighborhood, surely one concern that one would have is how one gets on with one’s new neighbors.”

    Hah! No. By coincidence, yesterday marked the first time I ever intentionally sought out my neighbours to talk to them in my years living here, and I only sought them out because someone’s kitten had wandered into my back yard and I wanted to find the owner. And as it happens, both of my immediate neighbours were out at the time I went round the block, so I have still never spoken to them.

  3. Holms says

    Oh I can answer your closing statement very easily -- rural life and farming are highly romanticised. There. People truly have no idea that farming involves tractors, early mornings and the smell of manure.

  4. suttkus says

    When I was growing up in the seventies/early 80’s, we knew both of our neighbors households and had regular relations with them. Over time, it just fell away. We haven’t seriously spoken with the neighbors to one side in years, and I don’t even know who is living in the house on the other side.

    I asked Mom about the phenomena the other day and I was surprised by her answer. Dryers. Back in the old days, every laundry was hung up outside, on the clothesline, and Mom interacted with the moms to each side as they were hanging their laundry, sharing stories, etc. It established a bond between the houses. But time wore on and all of us got mechanical dryers and nobody was required to spend lots of time outside anymore. Sure, we all go outside sometimes, but it’s less regular, and much more rare to happen at the same time as someone else is.

    Dryers are killing neighborhoods and civilization. There you go!

    : -- )

  5. kestrel says

    I can confirm that reply #1 is spot on. We had people move in next to us, and then complain to us because we had sheep. Believe me: we did not hide the sheep in the house while they were looking at and deciding to buy the house next door; the sheep were definitely out in the field the whole time. So hey, how about this: if you can’t stand sheep or you think they are “wild” animals (yes, we actually got that complaint from someone) DON’T MOVE NEXT TO A SHEEP FARM. But apparently, people will look at a house next to a sheep farm and then decide that they will buy it and move there despite hating sheep. Once there they complain bitterly about the sheep. WTF.

    When we moved to our current farm we were interested in fitting in to the neighborhood and learning about and enjoying the local culture. And what do you know. 18 years later the Partner is the local fire chief and I am the treasurer for the local irrigation company. We are appreciated by the community and do our best to give back. We are friends with nearly everyone here and together everyone tries to make this a better community.

    I think part of it is how you go into it: if you feel like, “I’m here now, everyone has to drag things up to my standards, or else” you probably won’t have a very fun time with your neighbors no matter where you go. If you’re excited to meet new people, try new things, learn new things, you’ll probably have an easier time. Not that there aren’t people who are hard to live next to; I understand that can happen. I’m just saying that being more flexible and not demanding everyone behave exactly the way you think they should can really help overcome some of the difficulties.

  6. machintelligence says

    How about a similar (but more urban) complaint: buy a house near an airport and then complain about aircraft noise.

  7. Dunc says

    Why go out of your way to make your neighbors feel uncomfortable?

    “Trouble is a form of attention.” -- Milhouse van Houten.

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