Valley of Enchantment Dispatch

Mar 8, 2023 | Communities

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Running low at the Magic 7.

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Erin, Magic 7’s doyenne

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Friends outside the market.

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Kids are never deterred!

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The spirit of VOE
(Photos by Julianne Homokay)

Neighbors show what it means to rally


By Julianne Homokay

Special to The Alpine Mountaineer

I met my BFF, Tony, in Los Angeles back in 2006.  His employment circumstances forced a move back east in 2007, and Tony had been looking for an opportunity to get back to California ever since.

Tony arrived at my house here in Valley of Enchantment on Feb. 4.  Two weeks later, the storm of the century hit.  Welcome back to California, Tony!

Since then, Tony has been a model citizen, getting out there to shovel Mom and me out, as well as our neighbors on both sides.  He and I have been trudging down to the Magic 7 market to help our house-bound neighbors with groceries and pet food, and we even made a 90-minute trek to return a lost dog to his people on the other side of VOE. But we’re not the only ones out there making a difference.

In VOE lately, if you pull on your snow boots to get out for a walk, you will see neighbors out and about helping each other.

First and foremost, Erin – the iconic clerk at the Magic 7 with the beautiful, multi-colored hair, the whimsical toques and the dry sense of humor – has been making her very long way into the market on foot. She shows up every day to see that the store stays open for VOE residents who don’t have the ways and means to get anywhere else for provisions.  She will be the first to tell you she’s not a hero, but we all know better.

Further out on your walk, you will see neighbors helping other neighbors to shovel snow, recover lost pets, hand canned goods over their fences and do welfare checks on house-bound residents. “We’re checking up on each other,” said my neighbor Jane.

Folks are out enjoying the beautiful, if challenging, winter scenery, meeting each other, sharing information. I met a neighbor I had been living three doors down from for a year-and-a-half, Ryan, who gave Mom his walking stick to help her on our trek to return Romeo the dog to his family. I might venture to say that this monumental weather event helped us all to meet and become friends.

Most of all, people are treating neighbors as friends, not enemies. Inside the Magic 7, VOE residents are waiting in line patiently, and only taking what they need, not hoarding. No one is getting into a fight over the last four-pack of toilet paper, like we heard about during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of this community are treating each other with respect, good will and generosity.

Said my neighbor Chris, “Magic 7 is the unofficial command post” and, on Saturday, boxes of free provisions were being distributed. According to the folks handing them out, only one of four were provided by a government agency. The rest came from Sandals Church, Goodwin’s and the Lake Arrowhead Tap Room, according to my source.

Despite the bare shelves inside the Magic 7 on Saturday and unplowed roads outside, the community spirit is not flagging. Said Jane, “All these people that came together are the heroes.”

And, when I asked Tony how he felt about being back in California, despite this monumental snowstorm, he said, “I’ve found Valley of Enchantment to be a neighborly community with residents looking out for each other.  I’m looking forward to exploring more of Crestline after the thaw!”

Let that thaw come.


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