Sidewalks & Short-cuts

Contributing Writer
Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church Arcade, NY

I grew up in a pretty tight neighborhood. And tight is the perfect adjective because it describes both the relationships and our distance (each house only had 50′ or 60′ of frontage). We had block parties in the summer where the city would shut the street down and we would set up tables in the middle of the road. The parents would socialize into the night as the kids played incredible games of hide and seek with virtually no boundaries. My brother and I were best buds with our neighbor Jeff Drake. We’d play basketball in his driveway and ‘hot box’ in the “side yard” (his house had 60′ of frontage!)  Even the occasional baseball through the neighbor’s window didn’t keep us away from playing there again and again. In the summer, we lived outside, and when it was time to go back to school, we walked. And when I say we walked to school, I don’t mean we skipped the bus. I mean there was no bus.

I started walking to school in Kindergarten. My elementary school was ¾ of a mile away from my house and for the most part a straight shot. After showing us how the first couple of days, my mother (and many others) started letting us walk ourselves before our new school kicks were even worn in.  It was in the days after the moms commissioned us, however, when the real education began. The older kids whispered for us to follow and opened our eyes to every walking kid’s favorite find: a short cut.

Almost immediately adjacent to my house alone there were two shortcuts. The first was through my neighbor Floralynn Anderson’s yard. She lived immediately behind us. If you walked down her driveway and along her garage you’d end up right in the corner of our backyard and shave at least 30 yards of walking and 7 seconds.  The other shortcut was at the corner. The house on the corner had a big yard—all grass. You could walk to the corner I suppose, ooooooor you could cut the corner and save 60′ of walking! (And for the record, that’s exact. I did the math.)

We school kids have places to be, so you know what we did. In fact, kids cut that corner so often the grass died. There was just a straight strip where nothing could grow for 148′ right through some guy’s lawn because kids couldn’t be troubled to walk an extra 60.

Sometimes I think about that lawn. I think about the people who lived there who I never knew even though our neighborhoods were so friendly. I think about what I would do if kids kept cutting through my lawn killing my grass. I think about how they say fences make good neighbors, or at least how a fence might have kept a bunch of pesky kids off his lawn.

I think about all of that, and then I marvel. I marvel at what it actually became. The man never stood outside his house shooing kids away. He never posted a no trespassing sign on either side of the unwanted track. He never built that fence. But do you know what did happen? One time when they were pouring new sidewalks on the corner—you know, the sidewalks no one used—they decided to pour a little sidewalk over the path through the man’s lawn at the corner too.

We were trespassing and ruining a person’s lawn doing it, so he built us a sidewalk. In our little neighborhood, that corner was his and at the same time he made it ours. 

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.

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Pastor Shawn Hannon
Pastor Shawn is a 2010 graduate of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina, and he began his call at Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade NY that summer. While he spent four years learning and serving churches in South and North Carolina, as a Jamestown, NY native, Western New York has always been home. He is glad to be here. Pastor Shawn and his wife Carol Hannon met while attending SUNY Geneseo in the mid-2000s. They have enjoyed making their home together in Arcade with their daughters Quinn and Perry.   Pastor Shawn has a background in youth and outdoor ministry. He is a former camper and staff person at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center in Bemus Point, NY. He has also served camps in urban settings and oversees in Madagascar. In seminary he was recognized for gifts in Greek and New Testament, and in his senior year was recognized with awards in both Preaching and Biblical Studies. Pastor Shawn continues to emphasize the youth in his ministry, but not simply because they are the future church, but because they are the church of today.  He also enjoys working on service projects, and takes the role of planning meaningful and engaging worship seriously.  He loves helping people find ways to put their passion and energy to work making their community and other people’s worlds a better place. When he is not working at church, Shawn enjoys remodeling and construction projects around his family’s home.  But as busy as he gets, PS always has time for a quick nine (okay, 18) on the golf course. He enjoys playing sports of all kinds and fiddling with his guitar.