SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Every Wednesday for the past 16 years, kids have flocked to Buck Conder’s house in South Jordan for a tradition known as Pop & Chip.
“We picked a day, Wednesday, and then I was going to quit and they got mean and ugly about it.”
It’s a simple offering, bringing together a neighborhood. While some come for the snacks, other come for the stories.
“He was in the Vietnam War, and he tells me about that and his childhood,” neighbor Cade Swensen says.
“He told us once that he didn’t have his first soda pop until he was like in high school and he wanted other people to have that opportunity,” says neighbor Zach Kirkham.
An Army vet, Buck has seen many hard things in his life.
“I got shot up pretty bad,” he says. ” Yeah, I’ve got three Purple Hearts over there.”
The flags in his yard are a reminder of friends lost in Vietnam.
“My second month over there in December of 1966, we ran into an ambush and there were 35, and 27 were killed.”
And before that: “I was in Germany in 1961 when the Berlin Wall went up and my unit was there.”
While Buck is known for his stories, he’s also known for being a good neighbor.
“Buck makes this neighborhood feel like there is unconditional love no matter what, no matter where you come from you’re loved,” says Apryll Carter.
Which is why when word got out that he was getting the KSL High 5, everyone wanted to be a part of it.
“You are the perfect example of the High 5 and what it’s about,” KSL’s Shara Park says. “Its about celebrating those in our community making a difference, and we can’t thank you enough for doing that and making such a difference to them as well.”
We also had a little surprise for Buck from our friends at America First Credit Union.
“You’ve obviously had a great influence on those who are here present today, and as a thank you we would like to present you with a $500 gift card from America First, thank you for all you do and the positive influence you are.”
So why does Buck do this? Why buy the pop and chips each week, and wait for the little ones to come?
The answer is simple: It’s friendship.
“Every time I leave he always says thanks for being my friend, and it’s really happy for me,” Julia Thompson says.
“He teaches them how to be a friend, he teaches them what to listen for, he teaches them how to care about other people, how to have a friendship, how to be a true person who cares about other people,” says Lynette Williams.
If there’s a lesson in life you want them to know, what is that?
Buck answers, “Just be nice.”