2007-01-25 / Letters to the Editor

The joys of living in a small town

Small towns can have their issues: pettiness, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings come to mind. I, however, want to say something about the joys of living in a small community.

My husband, Bruce, loved being in a small community. As the eighth-grade math teacher, he loved seeing his students on the street, at the House of Pizza or at play practice. He also saw their parents and was glad to give informal updates at the bank or on Narragansett Avenue. He loved what he called the "I know everyone in town moments" characterized by going into Baker's or McQuade's and knowing everyone, often catching up with old friends not seen in a while.

These moments happened more often in the winter than in the summer. One of our greatest smalltown joys was being able to go as a family of six to play practice with each of us having a role in putting on the latest JCT production. The last play Bruce was in he played the Mad Hatter while he was undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer. He was also teaching full time and playing clarinet and singing at the Central Baptist Church. It was exhausting, but he loved being part of it so much he just pushed through. He loved the people of this town. He loved being part of this town.

As Bruce deteriorated this fall and passed away on Dec.18, the outpouring of love and support was truly amazing. It started with books of encouragement and good thoughts from the church and the school and a prayer shawl knit by the ladies of CBC. There were friends and family taking Bruce to chemo while I was at work. Bruce's friends formed a poker group so they would have an excuse to get together every other week. The eighth- grade team kept in touch with him so he would still feel a part of what was going on at school and CBC ladies provided meals when our family was in town.

The really amazing phenomenon of small-town life I have experienced since Bruce's death is that of pulling together during tough times and supporting their own. It started with an unbelievably varied turnout for his memorial service. There were neighbors, students, parents, and many friends from all of the many activities Bruce had been involved in over the years. Since then, I have been the recipient of many baked goods - all welcome with my family in town for the holidays - from Teresa Murray's carrot muffins to an apple pie, cookies, and other goodies, all baked and delivered with love and concern. I have been most overwhelmed, however, by the cards. Three weeks later I am still receiving cards every day. There were times I received ten or more a day. Most are from Jamestowners. Some are from people I don't know, but they knew Bruce through the community band or the SIT committee at school or were a parent. I have gotten a number from past students or members of the JCT who were never his students but were impacted by his life while they were young and are now grown. This is the side of small town life that Bruce loved so much. He thrived on this sense of community. Thank you for the cards, flowers and cookies, but more than that - thank you all for the part you have played in being part of this community of loving and caring Jamestowners.

Missy Engelhard,

Reservoir Circle

Return to top