AND THEN AGAIN……by Tamara Pettit

…..I am sad.  There I’ve said it and a columnist is never supposed to impose her emotions in writing, but today it seems I can’t help it.  But you, dear readers are not the typical reader, we’re friends,

…..Today we buried  my brother-in-law, Bill Webster, and my mind is filled with memories that come flooding back.  My mind rarely dwells in the past.  I get too caught up in the here and now, but today an important part of my past and New Cumberland’s past was buried.

……It was a different time and  different day in 1958, when my sister, Marsha,  and Bill Webster married.  He came from a large Polish family and had already gone to work while in high school to purchase a black & white chevy.  Today, he would be considered a boy, but in 1958 at 18 he was a man.

…..He and Marsha planned marriage after high school.   We who came of age in the Sixties rejected the things that were set in stone in the Fifties.  But in New Cumberland in 1958, things were so black& White.. You married young, had lots of kids, worked one job your whole life  and worshipped God on Sunday.

…..Bill  went to work at Weirton Steel, but got laid off.    Dad heard the new Mayor, Jakie Fuccy, was looking for a Police Chief so at 21   Bill became the youngest  police chief in the nation..  Being a policeman in a small community also became who Bill was….it defined him..

……There was no demarcation between when he was on duty and when he was off duty.  There was one policeman and he worked 24/7  The rec room was the office and Marsha was dispatch.  For some inane reason we all started ending our conversations with “10-4” a police term popular when they used scanners.

  By the late sixties my family was in shambles.  My Mom and Dad had divorced, so my stability would become the Webster clan  where you never missed Mass on Sunday and Sunday dinner included homemade applesauce and homemade pies, and grace before dinner and nobody climbed in bed before the five kids knelt down for prayers. ……Maybe things were chaotic in my world but when five little Websters and Marsha and Bill were around I felt surrounded by love.

       Bill’s happiest time was as chief of police where he knew everyone in town.  When we posted Bill’s obit online, New Cumberland Elementary Principal Jim Piccarillo said Bill came and introduced himself the first day at school and told him to come to him If there was anything the kids needed.”.

….New Cumberland was not a wealthy town and itbothered Bill that some kids didn’t have a bike so he started the “bicycle rodeo” where those who didn’t have bikes got and every kid went home with a prize..

……Being chief was not all goodness and light because even Mayberry had domestic violence and  there was a time when he went to settle a dispute the abuser opened fire on him.

      My favorite memory was when we would go the Websters after 10 o’clock mass and Bil would stand up at noon and say “got to go get the Protestants out of church.”   As a kid when he would say this I wondered if Bill went to tell them they had stayed too long, it was time to go, but I later discovered it just meant he directed traffic.

…..The world changes and even small towns change.  Would that we keep our hometown wrapped in a bubble, but that’s not the way it works. In a perfect world diseases would not take our loved ones often to places we cannot understand, but our memories of them can never be taken from us,,

…….Today we said goodbye to Bill in a small private ceremony like he had requested.    But I didn’t say farewell,  because those small town values he exemplified and the precious memories  he gave us had a small part in making me who I am today.

In fact, I’m not saying goodbye just “10-4.”