I really like the idea behind National Night Out.

Crawfordsville celebrated National Night Out in fine style last night at Milligan Park.

Jane Christopherson planned for activities to fill the park from one shelter to the other. There was free swimming for an hour and lots of free food.

I really like the National Night Out concept because it was intended to be one night of the year when we, the people (the good guys), took back our neighborhoods.

During another life, one in which I tried to sell stocks and bonds from the trunk of my car, our group was treated to dinner by a nationally known mutual funds firm at a nice restaurant in Lafayette.

After we ate, he presented a short program. He showed us a drawing of a modern home and asked, "What has changed from the houses built years ago?"

I raised my hand.

"There is no TV antenna," I said.

Several people laughed and the man making the presentation agreed, but the point he was trying to make was there was no front porch.

I can remember mom sitting on our front steps for hours on end during summer evenings. She would smoke one cigarette after another and visit with the neighbors who stopped by.

Guess what. There was no crime on our street during those evenings. There were too many eyes up and down Union Street watching our neighborhood.

We didn't have cell phones in our pockets and 911 hadn't been invented but the desk phone was just a few steps away and the phone book cover was yellow with the number of the police and fire departments in big black letters.

Yes, National Night Out is a great idea, whether it's celebrated at Milligan Park or by people on their front porches, visiting and watching and listening in case there is trouble.

Frank Phillips is the editor of The Paper of Montgomery County.