Remembering Community Life in Rural Mass

When people sign up for our newsletter, they often share their story. Here's a great essay from Andrea Morgan, who gave us permission to share it with you.

I grew up in rural Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Everyone knew their neighbors at their end of the town. We had a big yard where my mother enjoyed a big garden, and my cousin who lived upstairs played basketball every day with a group of friends on our huge driveway.

You could walk up to any neighbor's door and were welcome in without an invitation. One year, when the lower part of our street was flooded by a hurricane, Mr. Poole, who lived next door and was over six feet tall, took the children one by one from their flooded homes and, putting them on his shoulders, walked them up the hill to the Hogans' house. We waited there all crammed in together until the water receded. When I walked back home, stray cats were running all over my yard attracted by the dead fish that had washed up from the river nearby during the flood! Again our neighbors helped clean the lawn up. 

I knew every inch of that town by the time I was 13. My father and mother decided to buy a new home in the bigger city next to our town. Ever since I moved from that rural community years and years ago, I have never felt at home in a bigger community with all its paved roads and parking lots, stores so close to homes, houses and people squeezed in together and the lack of back yard space for pitching a tent, having a food garden, a barbecue grill and still a large area for the dog to run around.

I miss a big clothesline and having your garage separate from the house so you could build it in the back yard where the inside of it was sheltered from view. I miss being able to climb a big tree, sweeping leaves from the garage and the lawn, and ice skating on frozen ponds in the woods with other people in the community as our exercise instead of having to buy a membership at a gym.

My mom and I used to walk with our shopping basket a couple of miles to the small grocery store, Nye's, and back again or take the bus from the stop a few yards from our house and go shopping downtown in the city. My whole family was big on volunteering to give back to the community. We were scout leaders, Red Cross volunteers, USO volunteers, Candy Stripers and taught classes at the YWCA. 

I can't explain it, but I lost that close community feeling once I moved to a more populated area and, although I have wanted to live like that again, I have never had the opportunity to actually do it.

Thank you, Andrea, for sharing your story. If you haven't signed up to get our news, please do. We can't wait to hear your story.

Contributed by Andrea Lee Morgan, Florida