MAN GETS TO KNOW HIS NEIGHBORS.
NORTHRIDGE Everybody likes Michael.
He's the neighborhood host, town crier, traffic cop, pet finder and father confessor on this stretch of Chase Street in Northridge, where he lives.
Every day, weather permitting, this warm, affable 52-year-old quadriplegic leaves the home he shares with his parents, Marie and Chuck MacCannell, and makes the rounds of the neighborhood in his wheelchair - stopping to talk, listen and keep his neighbors posted on what's happening on their block.
On the good days, when his strength holds up, he heads over to California State University, Northridge, about half a mile away, to talk to the students on campus and see how they're doing.
Maybe it's the wheelchair or maybe it's the warm smile on his face, but everybody seems to want to give Michael their time without question.
``I just like to talk to people and listen to their stories,'' he says, modestly.
The guy would have made a heck of a politician or newspaper reporter if given the chance. But he wasn't.
An airplane accident in 1971 while serving as a Navy pilot killed any dreams Michael had of an active career after Vietnam. But it couldn't kill his active mind and big heart.
Take a stroll down Chase Street with him now, and it's easy to see why everybody likes Michael. He cares.
``Michael stops by my house just to talk and see how I'm doing, always asking after my kids and grandkids, too,'' says Mickey Kommel, who has lived on Chase Street for 43 years. ``You can tell he cares, that he genuinely wants to know.
``He's like our town crier, knows everybody, and everybody knows and likes him. Michael just makes you smile and feel good when you see him coming down the block toward you.''
It's that way up and down Chase Street, and over on Sunburst Street where Judy and Milt Rosen live.
``I've been watching him for years riding around the neighborhood in his wheelchair, stopping to talk to people and make them smile,'' Judy said.
``We've had long talks about the neighborhood and life, and I always come away from them feeling so good and positive about things,'' she said. ``He's such a sweetie, and a brave guy.''
A special guy, too. An active guy who climbed mountains for the challenge before he went into the service and came home a quadriplegic.
But you'll hear no old war stories from him, his mother says, because that's not what her son is all about.
Being out there in his wheelchair now visiting the neighbors, or online over the computer with friends, or talking to the students over at CSUN about anything that's on their minds, that's what Michael MacCannell is all about.
``He'll come home from being out most of the day and be anxious to tell me about all the people he met and talked to,'' Marie says.
``About the lady with the trained doves, and the kids flying electric airplanes with their dads. About the beautiful new flowers coming up in a neighbor's yard, and the lost kid he gave directions home to.
``My son just loves to talk to people and listen to their stories.''
And that's why everybody likes Michael.
Michael MacCannell chats with Mickey Kommel, a resident in his Chase Street neighborhood. MacCannell serves as the greeter and town crier for his Northridge neighborhood.
Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||May 16, 2000|
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