I love small towns. When I lived in Parish, New York, there was no end to the reverie, not to mention the constant parades.
We had a Halloween parade through town featuring people of all ages marching in costume along a rather abbreviated parade route. It all culminated at the fire barn where a couple of old draft horses would pull along a hay wagon. Most all town festivities featured the fire barn.
Monday night bingo held there. The caller was a volunteer firefighter prone to bringing on fits of laughter when he drew N 44…which he pronounced as "N farty-far," whereby producing great gales of cackling from the middle-aged women who showed up every week, I think maybe just to flirt with the caller and the other male volunteers who collected their money. Don't get me wrong, I'm not making fun. I spent more than a few Monday nights there myself.
The gas stations served as restaurants in Parish. You could get a certified Dunkin' Donuts cruller at the Mobil and the Citgo served up a mean fried pickle pizza. It was slim pickings for a restaurant there, though. Every once in a while somebody would try to revive an old boarded up restaurant, but never to much success. My guess is that a) no one there made enough money to consider eating out on a regular basis; b) Parish is located in the snow belt, on a good day about 15 miles outside of nowhere so it's not going to draw a crowd; c) the people who live there cook really well and there's just no need for it.
I've waxed practically poetic on my Parish friends. There's just nobody like them. Never will be. I keep in touch sort of loosely with them still. I moved away almost a dozen years ago and I vow to search high and low to find comparable friendships, but I've got to tell you, that bar is set pretty high.
It's not every place that a neighbor will invite you to supper and then ask you to help them round up their cows that broke loose. Nor can you always find a neighbor who would drive all the way to the Canadian border to buy a stronger proof beer to serve you. Nor is it easy to find a friend who will take down her Rubbermaid container of porn from the top shelf of her closet and offer to share it with you. This is the stuff they are made of. This is why I'll never forget them.
Oh, yes, it was a quirky sort of place, filled with an odd mix of people who never really noticed their eccentricities. Why then, out of anyplace I've been, do these characters rise to the top of my milk churn? Because they are for real. They don't play, they don't side-step, they don't pretend, they don't care what you think. They're the genuine deal. I'm pretty sure I could move to Monte Carlo and the first people I would want to visit would be my friends from Parish.
I made a sort of pact with my friend Debbie that we would live side by side in the only attractive duplex in Parish and we'd work at the Parish Public Library, also known as The Liberry. We thought we might undertake this in our dotage, mostly because we admired the real librarian and town historian Mary Bridget Swartz so much. We did vow to allow all manner of books into the library. It was widely known that Bridget tended toward the conservative in her literary choices.
No matter, Debbie has since gone on to become a certified real live teacher so I'm sure that will help with her resume. I'm counting on her to hire me as her assistant. The assistants are kind of proficient in smart assery.