Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sometimes You Just Need to Bend the Truth a Tad

When I moved out this way, a few years ago, it was as if I had stepped back in time. Not a whole lot of time, just back to when I was a kid growing up in a small town. It was a good feeling. A comfortable one.

The funny thing was, I knew nothing about Central Massachusetts. Oh, I had been out this way a few times, to see Old Sturbridge Village, and to camp at Jellystone Park, but I always thought that one needed a visa to go out beyond Worcester. I felt like an illegal.

So, when I did make the move out here some of my family and friends thought I would disappear into the forest, or be kidnapped by mountain folk.

Actually, so did I.

But, after a while I began to realize that getting lost in the woods (although a distinct possibility for me), and being kidnapped by hillbillies just wasn't going to happen anytime soon.

My friends weren't so sure. So, I began to write to them, and tell them all about the goings-on in Little Town, America to make them feel more at ease about my move. They wanted quaint, small town goings on, so I gave it to them with little, or no exaggeration.

Let me share one letter I wrote to the folks back home a few years ago.

"Dear Folks Back Home,

More news from back home in Gods little backwater. Well, the boys down at the Veterans of American Wars are getting ready for the annual Memorial Day Parade. This year, Calvin Bishop, our sole surviving veteran of the Boxer Rebellion, will be the Grand Marshall. Toady McCabe is loaning his pick-up to haul Calvin and his hospital bed, and Miss Apple Orchard 1964, Martha Pichard, will assist Calvin in waving to the crowd. Calvins oxygen for the day was generously donated by Blanchettes Welding Supply.

May Day was exciting as always back here. Bert painted the Maypole fresh for the day, and this year,and donated about 100 yards of "Official Maypole Ribbon" imported direct from Berlin, Germany!! Well, I have to tell you, May First will go down in the history books around here.

I am sorry you missed the event. It all started in the morning about 10:00 when the pre-schoolers from the Lil' Farmers Daughters Pre-school marched to the Maypole. There it stood, fifty feet high and all painted to a high sheen by none other than Benjamin Moore and Bert. Hanging from the top of the Maypole were 20 rainbow colored cords. Miss Gelflick, hummed into that humminator thing that teachers use to get everyone on key, and that class began to sing the Sturbridge Maypole Song as they each took a colored cord and velcroed it to their tiny wrists. They continued to march in a circle around the pole, each child moving in predetermined pattern of ins and outs and back ins, all the while the colored cords wove a wonderful pattern on the pole.

Well, we all should have realized something was askew when the Maypole Circle March took longer than the usual 5 minutes. Well into the 15th minute and the 32nd verse of the Official Maypole song the children were getting very tired, but the cord had still yet to be fully played out. It was then that the Fire Chief noted on the box that had contained the cords that the words, "Elastisches Seil für springendes Bungi, nicht für Mai Pole das Tanzen". The Chief knew immediately what the German words said since he had served in the Wermacht during the war. The words said, "Elastic rope for Bungi jumping, not for May Pole Dancing." Just as he was reading the words aloud, a loud report was heard, followed by a scream that would make Dr. Doppler proud. So sudden were the noises that the Chiefs monocle popped from his face just as he lifted his head towards the Maypole. There, at the base of the pole was a mass of tired children, and as each one began to kneel down to catch their breath, the stretched out "Elastisches Sei" began to reclaim its normal size. Toddler after toddler were slung repeatedly around the Maypole and flung into the air at speeds verified by the Official Police Department Radar Gun, at upwards of 52 mph!! Some of them being heavier than others fell almost immediately after a quarter mile or so, some of the light weights made it as far as East Brookfield!

Oh, the humanity!

Well, as you can imagine, after about one minute there was no one left at the base of the Maypole. Kids gone. Fire Department gone. Joey Slevis ran down the street holding the radar gun on each of the orbiting Lil' Farmers Daughters, and shouted out numbers that sounded an awful lot like miles per hour. We were lucky that day. No one was hurt, good part due to the silly costumes Miss Gelflick made the children wear that day, little Pansy costumes with big leafy arms. The boys over at Westover Air Reserve Base said that each of the little missiles had become "aeronautically perfect" for the short time they were airborne and literally floated to earth like so many Maple Seed propellers.

Well, there you have, the news from my small town, Sturbridge. Needless to say, the Maypole event will be different next year, there are grown-ups already on a waiting list to give it a try, pansy costumes and all!


Having Fun West of Worcester"

Now, I never did tell any of the any of them that I was exaggerating, it just seemed to add to the mystique of Middle Massachusetts, and I am not going to. My sister has been trying to sign up for the May Pole Dance since June.

I 'd like to see if she gets off the ground.

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