COMMUNITY ATOP AND BELOW – Marilyn Armstrong

We went to our doctor yesterday. The nurse there is a lovely, sweet lady who is not only a kindly woman, but can always find your files, gets you in on time, and remembers that you are the one on whom they can’t use an electronic blood pressure reader.

She lives quite near us in Uxbridge. We vaguely without specifics — we’ve grown careful about saying anything anyone could actually argue about — that life sure had gotten difficult.

Mumford River

Then she said it was a pity we could not stop shouting at each other and “let Congress do its job.” Apparently, she watches Fox News and is of the opinion that Congress is trying to do its job.

It’s kind of hard to fix the incivility of the nation when the most uncivil one is our so-called president who is by far the meanest, worst-mannered, self-centered blowhard I’ve ever seen on TV. He’s worse than the characters on sitcoms.

But my community, little old Uxbridge, has always been like that. You might say that this small town has led the way in incivility. Was Trump ever in Uxbridge?

We have to have the Police Chief at town meetings to pull people apart and keep them from choking each other. If you think that’s an exaggeration, it isn’t. I worked briefly for our local Blackstone Valley newspaper and I got to cover this one election year. I saw it in action.

It’s vicious. Everybody shouts and pounds the table. They yell insults and threats. Sometimes they have a good reason for their feelings, but it doesn’t help the community deal with issues which need fixing.

The police station in Uxbridge

Nothing gets done when it should or how it should — and most of the community’s “business” gets “passed” in secret by the same folks that bankrupted the town years ago.

Now we’ve got “newcomers” who want fancy schools and upgraded everything. Uxbridge doesn’t have the money to do it. We just managed to put up a high school because if we didn’t, we’d have been downgraded and our graduates would not have been able to go to college.

It was that bad.

I refused to agree to the new school until someone explained what happened to the 7-million dollars they got the last time. They didn’t fix the school. I’m pretty sure it went to line the pockets of whoever it was who sat on the town council. No one can prove it, but they can’t disprove it either. I never got an answer and I’m sure I never will.

So when we talk about incivility, our community certainly understands what that means.

Night in Uxbridge

Strangely enough, small towns often have this problem. Maybe it’s how we all know each other. We may not be able to name each person, but we recognize faces. We’ve seen them at the deli, at the grocery, at the doctor. We’ve bumped into them at a fireworks display or on a sidewalk in town. Our kids or grandkids went to school together. People hold grudges, especially in small towns.

Route 16 bridge over the river

We had hoped to become part of the community and “they” — the people who run this place (I don’t even know if they belong to any political party and it wouldn’t matter anyway) would have happily anointed Garry for pretty much anything he wanted to be. Never mind that he didn’t know anything — that’s what your staff is for. They’d seen him on TV. Good enough.

We were in the Rotary, but when they threatened to make Garry president, we ran screaming. Since then, we aren’t involved. The friends we had here died or moved away. Our church, which was less about prayer and more about meeting people, was puzzled to have “a person of Jewish persuasion” in their midst and then, all three close friends died in a brief two years.

On the top, we have a lovely — or potentially lovely — community. Green, full of trees, beginning to grow. Great potential. Below that, though, are angry people who don’t care much about anyone but themselves. They scare the rest of us away. We’d like to help, but we can’t break through the anger.

Sound familiar?

Little girls and short dock into the river

Yet, we love the place. We keep hoping the old ones with the anger issues will resign and let cooler and younger people try to do something positive. It won’t fix the nation, but maybe if we take it one small town at a time, we could make a difference.

FOWC with Fandango — Below

RDP #69 – Community

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. Retired! Yay!

22 thoughts on “COMMUNITY ATOP AND BELOW – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. The folks at our PC are genuinely nice people. They’re also efficient. What a bonus.

    I’m waiting to see how the local midterms unfold. Don’t think we’ll have any breaking news. Deals probably already made and the fix is in.

    Golly, I hope I am wrong.

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  2. It reminds me of the Peter Gabriel song Big Time about living in a small town where they use small words and the singer saying he’s smarter than that and wants to open his mouth and let the big words come right out, and does all sorts of bigger-than-small-town things.

    Small towns sometimes have the odd feeling that people will never know what goes on, so they can get away with anything. Like, dude next door to us is an assistant fire chief, did all kinds of dangerous and illegal burning of woods adjoining our property last year for six frigging days, and I would never call the cops, because duh, you don’t piss off the fire department in your small town. There was some fishy deal this year that they wanted to force through the town, to sell a good fire vehicle and buy another that had gotten bad reviews because of being dangerous somehow, and for the last month or two Bubba next door has a shiny new red vehicle that says fire chief on it, hidden right up in the woods here. I guess they rammed through that deal, despite the town votes against it–too bad we’re all dumber than we have to be.

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    1. Sounds like home to me. Garry pointed out that if they appointed or elected him to anything, we’d have half the town in our driveway throwing rocks at the windows. “NO NO NO,” he screamed. “You can’t make me do it.”

      Ultimately, I realize — he was right. You can’t afford to piss off the people who control your town unless you’ve already sold the place and all your stuff is packed on the truck!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think there have been a few. Small towns are frequently politically awful places. And it’s entirely PERSONAL. It just in a valley where there’s a lot of contentious politicking going on, Uxbridge is actually worse than the rest. It probably should be a series!

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  3. Not just there, our local council was actually sacked a couple of years ago because there was so much infighting that it couldn’t function. We have an admistrator appointed by the state government but in a couple of months there will be new elections. Some of the “old boys club” are standing again. One in particular has been trying to become mayor since I’ve lived here. Many of us feel that some new faces in council would be a really good idea rather than just having the old gang back again. We’ll see what September brings.

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    1. The state has done that in a few larger towns that just couldn’t get it done. Lots of fraud, lots of money disappearing. So the state took over and after some years, they re-elected the same morons who ran the town into the ground before. I swear we are still being run by the same people who ran it 100 years ago — now it’s their grandchildren with the same mindset.

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  4. Small towns can offer so much, knowing everyone, friendliness, a sense of everyone being in “it” together- but those are the same reasons they can be so difficult. All that friendly familiarity can bring out the worst in people, especially when views are not keeping in step with one another. Double edged sword. But it is such a pretty place to live!

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    1. It is a pretty town and if everyone would stop fighting over stupid stuff — and maybe put some people into the council who can keep an honest set of books — it would be a lot nicer. The potential so obvious. Our “administration” which is just a bunch of councilors (no mayor), tend to be awfully stuck in the 1950s. Because you can’t move them, the town doesn’t move either.

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  5. I grew up in a small town. Families stuck together and everyone knew who everyone’s cousins were. And hurt feelings and slights were remembered for a long time. Sometimes for generations. My county was in Appalachia which split during the Civil War. Some families fought for or sympathized with the North and some for the South. The separation between those families lasted for generations. Children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of Republicans and Democrats were not allowed to play together for almost 100 years. Churches separated. There were separate funeral homes, etc.
    Intermarriages finally ended the split. And people dealths, forgetting, new people moving in and families moving out.

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    1. People mostly just move away. Small town life is not everyone’s cuppa tea and of course, it depends on which small town. Life is easy if you stay out of politics and hope nobody does something exceptionally dangerous or stupid. Like building the new high school on grounds full of tons of hazardous waste. That one, most of us got up and voted against. Mostly, it’s low-level corruption, greed, and an unwillingness to change anything because they all want to go backward in time.

      I don’t even know why they want to go back. The fifties weren’t good for this town. In fact, they were a pretty awful period. The population dwindled to half of what it was before and all the factories and mills closed. The Blackstone was so polluted, it made the list of one of the top half dozen most polluted rivers in North America, so why they are so eager to go back to it escapes me completely.

      As you said, the grudges never end, so people give up and leave. If I were young, that’s what I would do. You don’t even have to go far, just to a different town in the same valley.

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