Loose Ends: A hometown comfort

Dolly Viscardi
It is probably the most commonly asked question of both town and county residents.
“How come you know everybody?” is asked by all ages of first-time visitors to our community. The most recent questioner was a preschooler, who was baffled each time she accompanied her grandmother to the grocery store, the pool or downtown. Told it was most likely due to the small size of the town and how long her grandparents had lived in the community, she was unimpressed.
“But how come they all know me?” she asked upon her return from one more outing. Her grandmother tried to explain that the child’s mother and father had grown up in Meeker, yet it wasn’t enough to satisfy her.
Newcomers to the community find that it doesn’t take long to feel as if you know everybody’s name or continue to encounter people (to whom you haven’t been introduced) who know your name. Many native sons and daughters try to come back and see their friends and neighbors each year for the Old-Timers’ Association dinner and dance, and if they can’t make that event, the Range Call festivities.
The pull to become part of a place that truly knows your name is strong, as the young offspring of a local couple can attest. While she has only been here two or three times before to visit, she has already informed her parents that she wants to move to Meeker when she grows up. When most residents are asked what they like best about living in the White River Valley, they mention how comfortable they are in a place where everyone knows everybody. Of course, after living here for more a few years, that same reason is listed as the number one thing they don’t like about the area.
The clue to the comfort level with everyone knowing everything about everybody is reflected in the manner in which those who are questioned respond. Projecting an air of confidence and emphasis on the word “knows” implies that one truly likes this fact about the community. An exasperated tone of voice when one says “everyone knows everyone” conveys discomfort at the small size of our town.
Yet, no matter what anyone says, all of us who choose to stay are more than comfortable with the fact that all of the faces we see each day are familiar.
“Do I know you?” many elderly residents will ask a newcomer as soon as they are introduced (or reintroduced in some cases.)
“You don’t know me, but you probably know my Uncle Irvin or Grandma Mary. They grew up here.”
Just the mention of an old familiar family name helps break the ice. It probably is the one reason native sons and daughters come back from all over the country for the Old-Timers’ Association gathering.
— dolly@theheraldtimes.com