Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Small Town, USA

     A decade ago, our family moved from a small city to a really small, rural town.  Somewhere in the assimilation process, I missed a step.  I had no trouble adapting to the environment.  Turns out I was born to be a country girl. All those cows and turkeys and vegetable gardens that make up my 'hood suit me just fine.   Somehow, though, I never quite became a member of my little community.  My work continued to be out-of-town, and my social life continued to revolve around the same people and organizations I have been engaged with for years.  So, while I have met some terrific folks--some neighbors, my children's friend's parents, fellow marching band program volunteers--I have never quite become a real part of this community where I call home.

Photo courtesy:

     Then I spent this past school year substitute teaching. Many of the teachers and administrators actually live here in town, too, and I've come to know them pretty well. I have to admit it feels good to be greeted warmly when I come into a school building, or to be invited to join a colleague/neighbor for lunch in the staff room.

Photo courtesy of  Blackstone/Millville Parents Group

     Last weekend, I chaperoned the marching band during the Memorial Day Parade. I have done lots of things as a Band Mom, but I have never been the water-bottle-toting chaperone before. It was a revelation of the most heart-filling kind.

Photo courtesy of BMR Band Announcements

     My town is a nice mix of working class and middle class families. They are folks who have lived here for generations, or wanted their children to grow up in that kind of place--a town where families set down roots. My town is the kind of community where whole families gather together to watch the parade. Houses are draped in bunting and flags. Mothers dress their children in red, white, and blue. I've lived here for a decade and somehow missed that. I'm glad I finally caught it.

Photo courtesy of BMR Band Announcements

     Because I have always watched this parade from a prime spot near the end of the route, where the ceremonies honoring our war dead take place (including a very moving ritual where a wreath is released into the Blackstone River by veterans), I had no idea what the start of the parade was like. I was touched to discover that it begins just beyond the town's nursing home. Every year, the residents sit on the home's front porch to watch the parade go by. And every year, the high school band director makes a point of having the kids stop long enough to play through their patriotic songs in their entirety before moving on down the parade route.

Photo courtesy: BMR Band Announcements

     One of the most wonderful, and totally unexpected parts of the experience was the number of people who called my name out in greeting. The MOST wonderful part was the number of school children who gave a shy wave and the children who squealed out, "Hi, Mrs. Allen!"  and "Mommy, that's Mrs. Allen from my school!"

Photo courtesy: BMR Band Announcements

     It's taken me a while to figure it out, but I think I'm going to like it here.

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