Forest Hills block party reminds neighbors of good ol’ days

Published 12:10 am Friday, June 16, 2023

SALISBURY — Although some traditions lapse, it doesn’t mean they can’t be brought back.

Residents of the Forest Hills neighborhood in Salisbury celebrated the community’s history with a block party on Saturday.

Neighbors Rena Taylor and Dena Oldham spearheaded the event, but Taylor acknowledged it was a community-wide effort.

Taylor explained that a few neighborhood friends got the idea while sitting around and talking one evening.

“At my house, we do fires sometimes, and we know a couple of the immediate neighbors,” Taylor said. “We were saying, you know it would be great, there is so much potential here, each of us knows a chunk of people. It would be great if we could get something together.”

The idea was inspired by some neighbors who had lived there for decades.

“There are a couple of people that live in this neighborhood, which is just a small one-way in, one-way out neighborhood, that have lived here through its entirety,” Taylor said. “They had been mentioning how great it was to be a kid growing up here because they had these fantastic parties.”

Since the neighborhood has gained so many new families in the past two decades, many of the old traditions have dwindled.

“There was some turnover and passing of houses, and we have a few renters now,” Taylor said. “We have a lot of new people that have not met each other.”

Taylor and Oldham decided it was time to do something about that and went around to gauge interest from the neighbors.

“People might typically think about Facebook or Nextdoor, something like that, but we said we have a lot of elderly people in the neighborhood,” Taylor said. “We went with paper invitations and gave them out door to door. When they figured out that we were not solicitors, most people were really excited to talk about this event, and if they were not able to make it to the party, they seemed excited about being involved in things in the future.”

Taylor headed to the main branch of the Rowan Public Library to see if the Edith Clark History Room had any clues about how the parties used to look.

“I looked through the weeks of June 30 through July 8 from 1960 to 1970 to see if there was any coverage in the (Salisbury) Post about what they had done in the past,” Taylor said. “I was able to find it in like three different years. It was really cool. Some of the things mentioned were about neighbors that are still here.

“They did things like a bubble-blowing contest. We reenacted that contest with the kids and the adults. It also mentioned that this neighborhood had an activities director, and so did eagle heights and Milford Hills, which I thought was really interesting.”

Now the unofficial activities director for the neighborhood, Taylor is looking forward to more Forest Hills celebrations, like the one Saturday that saw more than 30 neighbors come together, each with a covered dish to kick off the summer.

Between the water balloon toss and the bubble-blowing contest, one could be forgiven if they thought it was 50 years ago.

“This celebration proved that the spirit of community in Forest Hills is alive and well,” Taylor said.