Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Abandon All Hope Ye’ Who Enter Here?


by Amy Lignor of The Write Companion


An Inside Look at the Yanks

Yes, there were times I thought of Dante when I was a kid.  I know that Barbie would’ve been more fitting but…what can I say?  My mother was a librarian, so books were all over the house; nothing was ever on T.V.; YouTube hadn’t been created; and, Twitter was just the sound that the birds made.  In fact, looking back, it was a lot like living on the Prairie with Ma and Pa.   

We had a lot of windows in the house, where we would stare out at the eighteenth extreme blizzard that’d just arrived to blanket Connecticut…in APRIL!  So, it’s no surprise that after decades of living in a place that others called truly beautiful, I wanted more than anything to get the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of there!

There’s a line in a comic movie that states: Connecticut is the Fifth Ring of Hell.  Is it?  Isn’t that place supposed to be hot?  As a kid I thought the Reverend was wrong - that ‘Down Under’ was actually a series of rooms kept at sub-zero temperatures where the “Bad Guy” wore mukluks and a fur coat.  After all?  Why would the devil allow people to get a tan?  I even made a childhood prediction, as I watched that ninth inch of snow fall on July 4th canceling the fireworks, that when Armageddon came or Revelations played out, my little corner of Connecticut would definitely survive. 

There were many things about our ‘corner’ that made us who we are today.  First, were the Land Battles.

Dallas and Fort Worth fight over who owns their international airport.  (It’s actually in Irving).  The North and the South fight over who really won.  (Sorry, the Yankees took that one).  What did my little corner of Yankee-‘dom’ fight over?  The dump.  Yup, you heard me right, the town dump.  Two small hamlets sitting side by side actually went in front of the Town Council to try to get their name on the sign.  Of course, the only thing they ever received for their troubles was the dump sticker that they had to pay for every year and attach to their car.  Personally, I would’ve fought over having to put a dump sticker on my eighty-thousand dollar Porsche.

Did we sit around and watch the leaves fall and the cars rust?  Sure.  But we also did that AND shoveled the ‘white stuff’ until our arms fell off.  See that?  We were multi-taskers.

We had a Historical Society and a Town Government that actually went to war over the infamous Green.  Now, the Green was an area in the center of town that was a bit bigger than a postage stamp, but it was muy importante.  After all, every year on that postage stamp was the town Christmas Tree and the manger that‘d been used so many years that Baby Jesus looked like he‘d been in a skiing accident.  There were also enough trees surrounding the Green so that on Halloween the, approximately, ten teenagers in town could use up their many rolls of toilet paper as decoration. 

One of the biggest issues with the Green was that the lovely houses that circled it had to remain black and white in color, so as not to mess up any pictures that the City ‘leaf-peekers’ were taking on their way through town.  These were historical homes, and I can’t even tell you the pain and agony experienced when someone had the nerve to paint their house yellow.  Can you imagine that?  Instead of pounding our fists at…say…the injustice of ‘kids starving in East Asia,’ our Town Government stayed up nights trying to figure out how to burn that horrific yellow house to the ground - without messing up the Green.  This was also the topic of many cocktail parties that summer. 

Did prejudice ever hit our small town?  As always, in our own way.  We had the ‘town’ and the ‘valley.’  People spoke about the ‘valley’ as if it were a demilitarized zone.  I actually wondered why it never made it on an episode of COPS.  We weren’t as bad as one of our small neighboring towns, though.  They banned their whole community that lived across the ‘railroad tracks,’ as if Billy the Kid and his posse dwelled over there just waiting to ‘shoot up’ the ‘good side’ of town. 

Our nightlife was the teen center, which also served the American Legion and Bingo Night!  The movie theatre and grocery store were in neighboring states because, God forbid, those hot spots could definitely not be linked with our historical township.  Even the nearest fast food restaurant was over state lines.  Apparently, the ‘Golden Arches’ coming to the majestic Green scared the bejesus out of the Town Selectman. 

What did we have?  Education.  Education was the most important thing - actually, the only thing - to concentrate on when you’re really bored and so cold that you could hear your own bones cracking in the wind.  From a top-level private school, to high schools, technical schools, and grade schools that housed everyone from famous actor’s children to the rest of us boring ole’ Yanks, education was all the rage.

The other thing about us Yankees that I will always give credit to is our absolute strength.  Talk about hardy!  I don’t know if it was because we lived in Antarctica nine months out of the year but, I’ll tell you, even Dante and his Inferno would be hard-pressed to face-off with the real, true Yankees.

And…our beautiful porches.  The first porch I ever stood on was there - in the darkness of the wilderness.  That small town did boast a feeling of absolute protection and security from the big, bad world.  It was the one place I’ve ever lived that was literally a postcard - with the lone deer padding across the snow in an evergreen wilderness, as the silver moon spotlighted his path…

And as long as he stayed off the Green and on the right side of the tracks, he was always good to go!