The mysterious envelopes showed up on a Saturday morning, tucked under the windshield wipers of cars in this Anaheim Hills neighborhood.
Phones started ringing. “Did you get one?” Inside the envelopes was money, just a little bit, usually $5 or $10 bills and handwritten cards. Thoughtful and inspiring notes. They were signed “Bill and Barb.”
The problem was, no one who received the envelopes knew who Bill and Barb were. They hadn’t used their last names, hadn’t left an address. There was nothing else to go on.
It wasn’t long before Kim Flint, who lives close to the corner of Paseo de Luna, started to put it all together.
And when she solved the case, she found herself in tears.
As it turns out, during a global pandemic, at a time of screaming political protests, it only took about $60 to restore this neighborhood’s faith in humanity.
If only all our neighborhoods were full of Bills and Barbs.
The neighbors called their nightly meetings “6 at 6.”
On March 17, four families on Paseo de Luna decided to pull out their lawn chairs and meet in their street to discuss the crazy things that were happening in the world. Picture this: The Flints, the Slipakoffs, the Nelsons and the Westmorelands having a glass of wine or beer, talking about their kids, fretting over coronavirus statistics.
Bram Slipakoff came up with the “6 at 6” idea. Brian Nelson got some chalk and a tape measure and drew squares on the ground for each family to sit in. The squares were 6 feet apart, and they met each night at 6 p.m. “6 at 6.” He even drew a square for visitors, in case anyone else wanted to join.
At first, they met every single night. Other than food shopping, “6 at 6” was their only connection to the outside world. More recently, they’ve been meeting five nights a week.
Kim Flint is a nurse. Brian Nelson, Ashley Slipakoff and Scott Westmoreland are teachers. Bram Slipakoff works with computers. Lina Nelson is a children’s therapist. They always laugh when they talk about Scott’s previous career as an actor. He was in the 1987 movie “Slumber Party Massacre II” and the 2010 documentary “Sleepless Nights: Revisiting the Slumber Party Massacres.”
“He got killed,” Brian said.
“Actually, I got drilled through the chest,” Scott said with a laugh. “I was Jeff.”
There he is on the Internet Movie Database: Scott Westmoreland … Jeff. He has only two credits. He’s now an art teacher at the Orange County School of the Arts.
On April 1, Brian sent a group text saying the police department had threatened to write citations if they continued to defy the shelter-in-place directive. The “6 at 6” group got really mad until they realized Brian had played an April Fools joke.
The wives made up T-shirts – “Driveway Drinkers” – that they wore proudly as the shelter-in-place order stretched on.
It’s a fun group.
Cars would drive by, fast walkers would slog up their steep street, and the “6 at 6” crowd would wave and smile. They began to notice patterns like geese flying overhead at the same time every night, or neighbors coming home from work.
One couple in particular caught their eye. A man wearing a Michigan T-shirt and a woman wearing an Angels visor. The “6 at 6” crowd called them “the walkers.” They sped through the neighborhood each night at about 6:30 like clockwork.
The walkers seemed like nice people. Once, Kim was having some furniture moved and the walker in the Michigan shirt offered to help.
Recently, the “6 at 6” crowd have been talking about their kids a lot. They each have signs on their lawns because all of them are graduating from either elementary, middle or high school.
In the cards
The envelopes were for the children.
Some of them said, “Congrats Grad.”
And they had handwritten notes like this: “When your mom offers someone she doesn’t know a bottle of water for his walk we figure her children reflect a similar kindness. Thought we would add some of our own. Stay as nice as your parents and you’ll go far into this world.”
Or this: “We walk by your house every day and always noticed your sign. Thought we’d add our congratulations. Good job! Stay as nice as your parents.”
The walkers (the guy in the Michigan shirt and the woman in the Angels visor) must be Bill and Barb.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Kim said. “This is so nice, I started to tear up. I don’t know anything about them, but they must be very kind-hearted and amazing people. They made us smile and cry at the same time.
“With all the darkness and sadness going on everywhere, I wanted more happiness. And they gave it to us.”
Brian agreed. “They did it out of pure kindness,” he said.
Kim posted a story about the mysterious “Bill and Barb” on the Anaheim Hills Buzz Facebook page. It got more than 1,000 likes.
One of the people who made a comment was Paige Montanio, who lives a few streets away. She has twin daughters.
“Oh my goodness, we received a card on our car this morning from Bill and Barb as well! They were wishing our daughters a happy birthday (their birthday was yesterday and we had a birthday parade for them.) They left the most thoughtful note and birthday wishes saying how much they love walking past our house these last couple months because we were always outside and our kids would always say hi to them. We don’t know who they are but they also touched our hearts The kindness of this community is overwhelmingly beautiful!.”
The legend of Bill and Barb was even bigger than the “6 at 6” group had imagined.
So Monday night, the Flints, Slipakoffs, Nelsons and Westmorelands waited. Their kids made thank you cards and a poster.
And suddenly, they appeared. Bill and Barb walked up toward the “6 at 6” group. The kids ran out and said thank you.
Bill and Barb were floored by the attention.
“We were looking at all the signs, and we felt so bad their ceremonies had been canceled,” Bill said. “We had to do something.”
In three months of shut down, Kim Flint has stayed 6 feet away from most people outside her family.
On Monday night, she gave Bill a hug.
“My first hug,” she said.
Bill and Barb Devolve walk a 2.75-mile loop around Anaheim Hills every weeknight.
“It’s amazing who you meet when you walk,” said Bill, wearing his Michigan shirt. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1981.
Bill and Barb both were raised around Cincinnati. In 1998, they moved to Southern California. Bill is a forensic underwriter in the mortgage industry. Barb works for the Hoag Hospital Foundation. They have three children and two grandchildren.
Bill and Barb couldn’t walk past these graduation and birthday signs without doing something. So Barb bought the cards, and Bill wrote the notes.
Last Saturday, Bill got up early. He sneaked up driveways trying to avoid security cameras. He slipped envelopes on car windshields.
“In the pre-dawn hours,” he said slyly.
On Monday night, Bill and Barb loved meeting the families.
“It was the highlight of our walk to see what you guys were doing,” Bill said. “I’m glad we got to meet the graduates.”
Barb said the money, the cards and sneaky delivery were all Bill’s ideas.
The thank you notes caught Bill and Barb by surprise.
“You’re going to make me cry,” Barb said.
She wouldn’t be the only one.
Source: Orange County Register