Loose Ends: Heard it through the grapevine


Special to the Herald Times

MEEKER I “Why didn’t you tell me?” Is one question that has not been asked by many people publicly, especially in a small town like Meeker. The answer to that question often goes unspoken because the inquirer, usually a member of the family or a close friend, already knows the answer. If it is being asked by a parent, child, husband or wife, it implies that trust has been breached. When it becomes a matter of public inquiry and is voiced aloud in a local public forum, such as a county commissioner or town council board meeting, it signals a lack of trust as well.

Most everyone in a small community,such as ours, relies on a different form of communication  — word of mouth. Hearing little tidbits of information through the grapevine is a time-honored tradition. The vine’s start began here in the mid-19th century when the White River Valley was first settled. If you look closely at the editorial section of the old newspapers (there were two weekly papers originally) or the Days Gone By columns from the Meeker Herald in this paper, you will see comments that cannot be construed as facts. Little snide comments, humorous asides, or short mentions of residents were the editor’s opinions about anything that happened in the immediate area. 

The roots of this hearty grapevine go deep and stretch far and wide throughout our county. Much like the noxious weeds that thrive in the soil, it is almost impossible to get rid of them.

While a number of folks continue to depend upon this questionable source for their daily visits with family and friends, others rely on the modern grapevine: social media. If any of us thought word of mouth made it impossible to live in a small town, consider how far and wide this gargantuan grapevine stretches. It makes it so difficult to stop people from rumor-mongering. Now we can hear something almost as soon as it happens. Even worse is that it includes speculation and is often not based on fact.

Once in a while, the growth of the small-town grapevine could be stopped before too much damage was done to the people who suffered the most, yet not always. With the advent of social media and demise of small-town newspapers, so much damage continues to be done.

An earworm from an old song in the ‘60s continues to play over and over in my head-

“Oh, I heard it through the grapevine, no longer would you be mine.” It was sung by a jilted boyfriend who put that age-old question in a song rather than go ahead and ask his girlfriend, “Why didn’t you tell me?

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