By Robb Murray
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — When a thick blanket of unseasonably cruel snow covered arrived Thursday morning, it could have been day ruiner for the Carrison family.
Instead, it was the kind of day that had them thankful they’re surrounded by kind neighbors.
When Marion Carrison looked out her window to see how much snow had fallen, she saw Don Krusemark, her neighbor of more than 25 years, removing the snow from their driveway.
Which is nothing new. For the past few years, whenever it snows enough for people to roll out their snowblowers or fish their shovels out of the garage, neighbors have been there to help Marion and her husband, Dale.
Several years ago the couple discovered Dale, 77, had neuropathy, a debilitating condition that attacks the nerves. It usually starts in the lower extremities and works its way up. Dale is now homebound and uses a wheelchair to get around. The former library dean at Minnesota State University, Dale has not left the house since January 2012.
Shoveling snow is out of the question. So Marion, 78, and her daughter had been doing it.
Then, about four years ago, the neighbors took over.
It started with Jens Mickelson.
“Somebody had to do it, and they were having a helluva time,” Mickelson said. “I saw Marion out there and, well, it seemed like the thing to do at the time.”
The people on the street — Lillian Drive in Mankato, at the bottom of the hill that heads up to Skyline — say that’s just how it is around there.
“I just did it because I saw they needed some help,” Krusemark said. “And that’s enough.”
He said having lived there 25 years, they’ve had time to get to know the neighbors. The people on his street are his friends. Plus, he knows that if the situation were reversed, he’d want someone to help him. And he thinks they would.
“We kind of watch out for each other,” he said.
Mickelson, who is 80, said Marion Carrison offered to pay him once. He refused, he said, because he’s not doing it for the money. He’s doing it, he said, because it’s the right thing to do for his neighbors.
“We’re all friends, and they’re older folks. We just lend each other a hand if we can,” Mickelson said. “All but one. That particular individual isn’t helpful, but whatever.”
Marion said Mickelson doesn’t just help out her family. She said Mickelson runs his snowblower up and down the block for a good hour when it snows, helping several families up and down the block.
“At one time we did have an electric snowblower,” she said. “But it went kaput.”