February 24, 2007 in Idaho

Kelsos offer warm respite for shivering teens

Hope Brumbach Correspondent
Jesse Tinsley photo

Starr Kelso, left, and his son, Matt Kelso, were nominated as good neighbors by the Kleins who live next door in their Coeur d’Alene neighborhood.
(Full-size photo)

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Good Neighbors is a twice-monthly feature in the Handle Extra that tells the stories of how neighbors are helping each other. Is there a good neighbor in your life? Someone in your neighborhood who goes the extra mile to help others. Let us share the story. Contact correspondent Hope Brumbach at hopebrumbach@gmail.com.

Starr Kelso never expected to be the shining knight for two damsels in bikinis.

They showed up on his doorstep one January evening, dripping wet and shivering in the frosty night air.

Between chattering teeth, they shared a woeful tale: Nancy Vasovic, a high school foreign exchange student from Serbia, had invited a friend over to her host family’s house while they were away. It was the first time she had been home alone.

Kevin and Cheryl Klein, neighbors of the Kelsos in Coeur d’Alene, were out to dinner. So, Vasovic, 18, shared a meal with a friend and went for a dip in the Kleins’ outdoor hot tub.

After the pair soaked their skin into wrinkles, Vasovic’s friend dashed indoors for a camera to capture the falling snow.

“I was thinking, I love my life, it’s so good,” said Vasovic, a senior at Lake City High School. “She goes in the house, got the camera, then shut the door a little hard. I said, ‘No, it can’t happen.’ ”

But it did.

The girls tugged on the door. And yanked. Then heaved some more. Alas, it was locked.

“For the first five minutes, it was funny. Then suddenly for a moment, I wanted to cry,” Vasovic said.

The girls gingerly circled the house in bare feet, trying to find an open window or door, but to no avail. Their last option, they decided, was to try the neighbor, whom Vasovic had met on a few occasions.

They mustered courage, Vasovic said, and sprinted through the snow. When Kelso answered their knock, she rushed through her story, hoping he wouldn’t shut the door on two bikini-clad girls.

At first, he did close it – “I’m like, ‘No, no, no don’t do this,” Vasovic said – but he was only keeping the dog at bay.

He reopened the door and welcomed the girls inside, grabbing towels and blankets and offering a phone. The girls sat on the couch, warming up. They could hear the Kelso family giggling in another room, Vasovic said.

She tracked down Kevin Klein’s cell phone number by contacting a program coordinator, then called and called and called the Kleins. The repeated calls from an unknown phone number finally sparked some concern, the Kleins said, and they answered during dinner.

“Kevin and Cheryl came and they were laughing so hard, and I’m trying to save my dignity. It was one of those good episodes of my life,” Vasovic said.

“Honestly, I would have no idea what I would do if (the Kelsos) weren’t there,” she continued.

Cheryl Klein said she’s thankful to have such welcoming neighbors.

“I make it my duty to watch the block,” said Kelso, tongue firmly in cheek.

But with humor aside, “it could have been serious if there hadn’t been a neighbor around,” he said. “They might have gotten frostbite.”

The Kleins said the family had a good chuckle over the incident – now that the girls are OK.

“It’s a good thing she can laugh at it,” Cheryl Klein said, “and have a story to take home.”

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