The first people Mike & Libby met when they moved to Phoenix were Mike and Bernie Fallaw, neighbors across the street. At the time, they had 4 daughters, with a 5th on the way. Two of these girls were about the same age as Becky & Regan, and there was an immediate "connection" to the neighborhood through them.
Mike and Bernie were originally from Chicago (the South Side), so there was another connection with them. He had played football at Mount Carmel, and it was almost a shame they never had any male children for him to pass that legacy. They both attended University of Illinois.
Much of the street's activities centered around the Fallaws because Bernie was so warm and giving. Every Christmas, the Fallaws staged a "Christmas Play", depicting the Nativity, and they used many of the kids on the street to play various roles in the production. For as long as they lived there (it wasn't as long as Libby & Mike), this was a wonderful neighborhood tradition - everybody looked forward to it, regardless of religious orientations.
Mike and Bernie did move away, to California, because of his job situation, but the Copelands and Fallaws kept in touch. They did return (to the same house: they never sold it, renting it out to various families), but they moved back to Chicago after a while. Ironically, they moved to Wilmette, not far from where Libby and Mike had lived. The families still kept in touch, using the combined 7 girls as a catalyst. Strangest of all, the Fallaws purchased a "winter home" back in Phoenix...in a community where Mike and Libby would eventually live after their "high rise" experience! Now, for part of the year, the Copelands and Fallaws are again neighbors.
Living across from Mike Fallaw was a bit of a challenge, because he was always working on some "upgrade" activity: enclosing his carport; building a gazebo in the back yard by the pool; constructing a room addition, etc. Rather than get a contractor to do such work, Mike Fallaw did it himself - and it was hard for the Copelands to "keep up with the Fallaws". One one occasion, he came over to propose getting some mature orange trees to plant in the front yards of several neighbors. (Back then, new home builders were razing citrus orchards and selling the trees for $10: to buy one, just show up with a truck and pick one...) Mike Fallaw thought the neighborhood should take advantage the opportunity and get some "instant fruit".
He talked Mike and another neighbor, Ralph Rabin, to rent a flat bed trailer and do this. Libby had a book about vegetation and found that it was important to place the transplanted tree in the same directional orientation as it was in the orchard. The 3 men spent hours digging large holes in their front yards in preparation for this, and they drove out to the location to pick their trees. Libby cautioned Mike to mark the tree he selected for the orientation, and the guys got 3 nice-looking trees loaded on the trailer. When they got back, the guys slid each tree into the hole dug in each home's front yard and filled in the rest of the transplant dirt. Mike's was the last, and sliding it into the large hole didn't quite work: the orientation alignment wasn't right...
It was getting late at night (and dark), but the guys got down and pushed, shoved, and twisted the tree until it lined up as it was in the orchard. A lot of work for a small monetary investment, and many neighbors were out that evening to see the effort: cars with headlights on to illuminate the work. However, Libby's research paid off: their tree was the only one that survived, and they had fresh oranges each spring for several years!
Ralph and Mike Fallaw soon had to cut down their (dead) trees...
Mike found himself motivated to enhance his house, too - perhaps because of Mike Fallaw's examples.
He convinced Libby to let him buy a
radial arm saw to put in their large 2-car garage, and Mike started making things. Among them was a large wall unit for their family room, where they put books and an entertainment center they all could enjoy. When they sold that house, this full-wall installation was an important asset. He also constructed an entire patio furniture set: chairs, end tables, picnic table & benches. Along with that, he created a louvered "sun screen" for the set, effectively making the patio usable year-round.
Another project was a large doll house he designed and built for Regan and Becky. He also made the furniture and appliances for it, and Libby did the "decorating" for it. This project took months and was unique.
Years later, after Mike and Libby moved down-town to high-rise condos for 11 years and then decided to buy a house, the Fallaws were helpful in finding a place near their winter home in the "Biltmore area". They also let Libby store her business office files and supplies when she closed it, until they had prepared their new house for her home office. Use of their unoccupied garage while they were in Chicago was an enormous help to Mike and Libby during this time, and it once again demonstrated the friendship these friends have maintained for over 40 years.