Sunday, December 5, 2010

Yes, I am from a small town. No, I'm not a farmer.

Glen Falls Bridge, Main Street - Williamsville, NY

Recently my father sent me a newspaper obituary of an acquaintance. The Obit was for Walter Pelcin, always known to me as "Wally the Barber". Yes, he was the village barber. Well, to be fair, there are several village barbers in the small town where I am from, but he was very well known as such.
In passing, I mentioned to my husband that I had heard that our village barber had passed. He sort of laughed (to be clear, NOT at the passing of Wally, but rather that he did not believe that I KNEW the village barber, or that there actually WAS such a person, and they were known as the village barber). He proceeded to explain his reaction, which I knew was not intended to disrespect the passing of Wally, but rather out of disbelief. This was the first time that I realized how very different our lives had been - how where we were raised made such a different impact on each of us.

He then asked me some very strange questions. "Did you have an outdoor skating rink? What about a Christmas tree at town hall? Did you have a town hall? Was there a Dalmatian at the firehouse; was there a firehouse? What about on snow days, did you go ice skating and hold hands and skate in a circle like they do in A Charlie Brown Christmas? Did people go Caroling around the holidays?" I suppose the answer to most of these questions is yes. He didn't make me feel bad about where I am from, he was still in disbelief that the "made for Hallmark channel "village" actually (for the most part) exists.

Some shops in the Village

But for me, for our family, it was simply home. It was not a made up village, it was where we lived, where we grew up, where we became the people we are. We are not farmers, as some people, who have never been outside of a major city, would have you believe. We are not "hicks". We attended the best schools, we made friends we would have for a lifetime, we got our first jobs at 16 and worked at the local library, ice cream parlor, restaurant on Main Street, or local swimming pool. There is nothing "farmer-esque" about growing up in a small village like Williamsville. There is nothing to make it "less" of a place to grow and learn than a city would offer. We were raised to treat each other with respect, we were raised to accept other races, cultures, and religions. We are not culturally deprived - despite what some think. And despite the fact that some believe that living in a city and raising children in a city is a "better" option than that of a small village, I would beg to differ.

Williamsville - Sts. Peter and Paul RC Church

I have very fond memories of being raised in a place where life is lived; and is lived at your own pace - not the pace of fast moving trains or children growing up simply too quickly. We never had a prom in the 4th grade, we never had to have designer boots or makeup in the 3rd grade - but we had lovely things and I have lovely memories still. My main goal in life is to provide my own family with memories just as nice, and to provide them with a place to live that is comfortable, relaxing, non-intrusive to life. A place I am not be scared of when turn out my lights at night and where I don't have to have bars on my windows, a place where my children may walk to school, or to the library, or to the swimming pool. I'd like my children to be able to attend schools that don't force you to walk through metal detectors when entering the building; I'd like to be able to send my kids to public schools that are actually challenging and enlightening, as opposed to simply being pushed through each grade level.

Columbia Drive, Williamsville, NY

These are all thing that I was able to do, while growing up in small village. However, living in city, I see an increasing inability to do so much of this. It's not that the city is such a bad place, it's simply not the kind of place I want to raise my family.

Our dining room, on Columbia Drive, at Christmas

I long for the day when we can retire and find a nice, small house in Williamsville to spend our golden years in; but I've got a long journey ahead of me. Until then, I'm reminded of those wonderful memories growing up there, and determined to find something just as nice for my family, but here in the NYC area. I've just started my research into different areas in Long Island and am very hopeful that I will be successful in finding a nice place to raise our family. Somewhere where my children will look back, wherever they may find themselves as adults, and be reminded of the simple, sweet, and memorable childhood they had.