The Friendship Lane
The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway.
This story is about two men who refused to lose their friendship over a difference of opinion. It is a story worth telling and one worth remembering.
It’s the story of The Friendship Lane in Dry Creek.
It’s now an overgrown narrow path. There’s little sign that it was once a narrow country road. It is located just east of Dry Creek Camp’s property line.
This path separates the land between the pioneer homesteads of Sereno Hanchey and Lionel Green. These two men, now dead for many years, were descendants of some of the earliest settlers of Dry Creek.
Mr. Rufus Hanchey, Sereno Hanchey’s son, took me to “The Friendship Lane” just before he died.
As we stood there, he related the following story: “Curt, at some point many years ago, there was a difference of opinion between the Hanchey and Green families over where the property line, running east and west, was between our properties. Each family claimed ownership of land that reached over into the other’s present field. Because there was no fence stood as the dividing line, the actual land line was open to dispute.”
Mr. Rufus continued, “My Dad and Lionel Green had always been good friends, and they valued their friendship more than any piece of land—and showed it by their subsequent actions. They met at the very spot we are now standing and came up with a solution for this problem. They declared the disputed ten-foot-wide strip a “neutral zone.” Each man would build a fence on his respective side of the strip. Together, they agreed on using the strip as a pathway with neither claiming ownership. Due to this arrangement, both families were satisfied and no further problem ever occurred.”
As the son of a land surveyor, I’ve seen some nasty fights between landowners over the difference of a two-foot strip along a fence. Some of the saddest things I’ve ever seen have been the sight of brothers and sisters falling out with each other over inherited land, going to their graves still holding a grudge against a family member. How sad it is when we will let anything, material or temporary, break a priceless relationship with our families or neighbors.
My visit with Mr. Rufus reminded me that my own land really doesn’t belong to me. He had wisely stated during our visit to the woods, “Son, we don’t own this land; it owns us. It really belongs to God. He’s just loaning it to us for this short finite period of time we call life.”
The Friendship Lane teaches me another lesson—if we’re going to get along with others, we must give them a little room. Young people today call it “cutting some slack.” If we push against and rub on others, friction will result. And friction always generates heat, and heat can generate the fire of anger that, in time, harm and can ruin longtime friendships. By simply giving others some space and walking away instead of fighting, the “friendship fences” in our lives can stay mended and in good shape. If we always must “win” by getting our way, we will leave behind a trail of broken relationships, many of them with those closest to us.
I am often reminded of the saying, “You only have so much blood to spill, so choose your battles carefully.”
Darkness is approaching as I leave The Friendship Lane behind.
Glancing back one last time, I visualize Sereno Hanchey and Lionel Green walking their respective fields at dusk. They stop for a visit. Each leans against his own fence, separated by the ten-foot strip of land they share. First one, then the other, crawls through his fence. They meet in this grassy neutral area where they shake hands and share a plug of chewing tobacco.
They visit until it is so dark you can barely see them. Only from the sound of their soft laughter and low voices can you tell they are standing back there somewhere in the middle of The Friendship Lane.
The richest man in the world is not the one who still has the first dollar
he has ever earned. It is the man who still has his best friends.