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

Friday, July 24, 2009

Yes, You Did Say That Out Loud

The neat thing about making much ado about nothing that there is always a bright side. Whether it be a corporation, or a town, when the principal characters verbalize how they feel about something that is trite, insignificant, and tiny in the universe of other more important stuff it is often more telling than if they were commenting on something vastly more important.

I don't know why this is, but it seems to always happen.

Take for instance the comment made by our towns select person:

“Personally, I’m not in favor of putting picnic tables all over the place,” Mrs. Blanchard said. “We certainly have a few benches that people can use … It’s not a picnic area.”

Say what? No picnics on the Town Common? OK, folks don't your dare give one of your kids a juice pack on the Common, or even think of uncorking that wine to serve with your crackers and cheese on concert night. And, forget about that coffee and danish on Saturday morning.

“I think that putting cheap picnic tables on the Town Common is totally inconsistent with the historic atmosphere on the Town Common,” Mr. Malloy said.

Cheap? $800.00? Maybe he met "cheap" in the qualitative sense. Naw, that can't be it. He meant cheap in the quantitative sense. "Historic atmosphere"? Cripes. The whole town is historic. Should we start removing everything that the last century has brought?

Or how about this one?

“The Common has been around since 1738 and there has never been a need for picnic tables so far,” Historical Commission Chairman Brian D. Burns said.

No picnic tables? Really? They were there a few years ago, and had been there for some time. Oh, but that's in the past. History. Sounds like the convenient re-writing of history to me.

I guess my point this morning is that when a silly issue rears its head, like the placing of a picnic table on the Town Common to replace one that has outlived its usefulness, that it causes people in certain positions to speak before they think. After all, it's a minor issue, no need for a great deal of thought, right?

Apparently not.

I do have to say that I have a great deal of respect for each of the people quoted above, but they are not infallible. They are human, and like me, their lips can move faster than their heads.

The fix? Well, there isn't anyway to take back what was said, however, if one sits back, and gives the matter some thought, and speaks as a representative of the people, and not as a private citizen, maybe a bunch of different words will be said.

Words like, "I'll get back to you on that.", or "Let me look into it more.", or even better, "Hey, it's only picnic table. Let's look into the best way to place it on the Common for the enjoyment of our residents and visitors."

Of course, I'd like to hear, "Did I say that out loud?" after each comment.

It covers a whole variety of slips of the tongue. Believe me, I know.

Source of quotes: Worcester Telegram article.


  1. Wally, you and TC did a great job with this "issue". You guys both hit the key points big time.

  2. TOTALLY EmbarrassedTuesday, July 28, 2009

    So let me get this straight. The chair of the selectboard has ruled that the common is not a picnic area. Topping that off she doesn't want picnic tables "all over the place". One table even two is all over the place. Oh, ok, a picnic table now is the lightening rod for politics under Mrs. Blanchard's watch. I've got friends in other towns asking me if she is for real.

  3. Is Mrs. Blanchard still on the Open Space Committee? This notion of hers seems contradictory to use of public open spaces.

  4. Nearly 2 years in office and her most notable accomplishment is beating up on a picnic table? What a legacy. She talked a great game when she wanted votes and hasn't done anything.

  5. I applaud your thoughts and desire to improve our community, but I cannot help but wish they had focused in a different direction. I have lived in Sturbridge for over 50 (!) years and I appreciate the Common just as it is. I also have appreciated changes in this town--the tasteful and architectually compatible addition to our library for example, the renovations to the Center school and Sturbridge Town Hall. I did not need the Telegram and Gazette to belittle the controversy over the picnic tables. As a matter of fact, quite some time ago when I first read your blog I thought this picnic table drive was a joke, and when I realized that it was not, I assumed wiser thinking would immediately prevail.
    I hope you consider that the further addition of picnic tables will establish a precedent in the placing of other things on this Common. Basketball? Various other sports or activities to which sponsors can use the precedent of picnic tables.--I assume you must enjoy Sturbridge as it is: let's not gild the lily and ruin its unspoiled beauty. Peoples idea of good taste may differ, but it is hard to argue with the plain unadorned face of nature.

  6. Thanks for writing. The precedent had already been set with the picnic tables that had been on the common in the past. Many older folks had mentioned to me that they would enjoy their return, as have many younger folks as well.

    Basketball belongs on a basket ball court. Parks are for picnics.

  7. ok, arphie, let's all go and stand and look at the common. might as wel fence igt it and keep us humans out of it.

  8. Arphie, a few questions about the "unadorned face of nature". Does that apply to OSV, (a museum by the way), which was partially brought in on flatbed trucks? Guess we should tear it all down and return it to open fields. Does that apply to the pavilion on the common, which is man made and not natural to the environment? Time to tear it down I suppose. Does it apply to the man-made houses around the common which certainly ain't natural? What about them there telephone poles? Did God put them there, or did man? And what about that tar road that runs north and south? Must be all part of nature as well, huh? Let's get real. The only natural thing in this town is air, the un-touched open space, and the natural flowing and or sitting water ways.


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