Every day on our way to and from school Cheyenne and I pass Keith Schoon’s vehicle and yard. His vehicle sports the license plate IDOBYKS and his yard is filled with hundreds of bicycles. You may have read about Mr. Schoon recently in The Forum. The article focused on the fact that he was in violation of a city ordinance and was told to either build a fence to contain the bikes or get rid of them. Mr. Schoon couldn’t fathom getting rid of the bikes. When Mr. Schoon commented that he didn’t think he could afford a fence on his retiree income, the West Fargo Mayor, Rich Mattern, said that he hoped the community would step up and help Mr. Schoon raise the money for the fence. The news of Mr. Schoon’s dilemma hit local media early in the week and essentially a day later members of the community came together to make sure that Mr. Schoon would have the money for his fence.
You see, Mr. Schoon, at the tender age of 66 spends the bulk of his waking hours repairing bikes and then giving them to folks who need them. If you have driven by his yard in West Fargo you know it. His driveway and side yard are covered in bikes of all sizes, color and design. And then there’s his vehicle with the personalized plate (which he parks across the street from his house as there is no room in his driveway) – just in case you couldn’t figure out what he was up to from the hundred of bikes that adorn his property you could catch a clue from his license plate.
When the story first came out Cheyenne asked me if he would have to get rid of his bikes and I told her then that I didn’t think so. I told her I was pretty sure the community would rally to find a solution. I just didn’t think Mr. Schoon’s dilemma would be solved in a day. Ah, but welcome to North Dakota. That is how we do business here – we take care of each other; and, when one of us who has been taking care of other folks needs help – well then we do double-time to make sure we take care of that person. It is kind of amazing, but not unusual here.
Mr. Schoon’s new fence already has the posts in and he will be able to continue to do his good work without interruption. I am sure the fence will be complete by next week.
Cheyenne and I will continue to drive by Mr. Schoon’s house every school day; and, before you know it we will be back to the long dreary days of winter when I struggle to remember what I was thinking wanting to live in North Dakota. But when I drive by Mr. Schoon’s fence each morning and afternoon I will remember why I love this state so. I will remember that I live in a caring and connected community - and even at 30 degrees below zero that is a warm, fuzzy feeling that Mother Nature cannot take away.
Day eight hundred and seven of the new forty – obla di obla da