AND THEN AGAIN……by Tamara Pettit


,,,,,,Last year I wrote a “Love Letter to a Small Town” in this column a few days before the Riverfest.  The annual event was my nephew Brian Webster’s favorite event, and he worked hard as a member of the committee.  The City would mark the one-year anniversary of his death by designating River Avenue “Webby Way.”   This year more than a few faces will l be missing; John Edwards music will begin the Riverfest although he is no longer with us.    Bob Manypenny and other Lions won’t be at the pulled pork booth, I can never pass the United Methodist Fudge booth without remembering my dear friend Mary Lou Kerr.  That spot where “the Wood Butcher” aka John Kuzio situated himself so he could greet everyone in town will forever live in memory.  I’m sure I’ll sit a spell under the “Webby Way” plaque and my mind’s eye will see Brian’s in all his glory as he greeted all his many friends.

…..I’m not sure when I realized I was in love with my hometown and the small-town values that permeated the actions of its residents.  I do know that by the time I was a young mother, I fully embraced the extended sense of family that I felt in this community where everyone not only knew my name, but that of my mom and Dad and son and daughter.  I loved that my kids knew that others were watching out for them; that Edie Long would yell at Shannon as she walked past her house on the way to school to put her hat, gloves and scarf back on or she would catch a cold.  It felt good that Doug would encounter Bob Manypenny as his teacher every day and that they had an understanding that Bob was Mr. Manypenny at school, but Bob on Christmas Eve.

……Some may have thought it a liability that living in a small town meant that residents knew our family’s “business” and all the family drama sometimes spilled out into the idle chit chat on which small towns thrive.  What others may have thought was stifling and intrusive, I saw as a sign that we all cared about one another.

……There will be quite a few faces gone from the Riverfest this year.  But are they truly gone?  I submit that, their spirit not only goes on as the annual event not only perseveres but flourishes.  And I along with others will feel the essence of their love of this small we enjoy the fruits of their labor and those that continue their commitment.

…..How strange, you say that she is penning a love letter to a small town.  It is not a living, breathing thing.  But, that’s where you are wrong. I see it every day from the vantage point of this publication.  Never more do I see it when tragedy takes those we love from us. It has been a difficult year for many of us as we yearn for those familiar faces, but the closeness and the willingness of others to pick up the torch and carry or makes me realize small towns are indeed the heart and soul of America.