By John R. Greenwood
|Ann Marie, Betty, Shirley, Helen (My Mother), Pauline
Growing up in the rural community of Greenfield Center, NY. provided a wealth of supporting influences in my life. I happened across this photo recently and I began to think of the effect the people in my community played on my life. I do not know the gentlemen behind these Greenfield Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary members but I do know each one of the women. I grew up with their children, played in their backyards, visited their homes, and drew life-long lessons from them. Some like my mother have passed. All remain large factors in their children’s lives regardless. Wherever they are I thank them all for the part they played in my youth and in my life in general. I’ve had many wonderful people in my life and I think we draw a little bit of something from each one of them.
Times have changed in many ways. The sense of community is not what it used to be. People are trying to revive it, but with our mobile society they have an uphill battle ahead. I am glad I was able to grow up at a time when firehalls were brimming with wedding receptions, fundraisers, and New Year’s dances. My wedding reception was in the firehall where this photo was taken. I can remember it as though it were yesterday. (Read about that here: Close Your Eyes).
I felt an obligation to acknowledge these women for their role in my life. Things were less scary then. There was always a mother peeking out the window just to make sure the gang of kids weren’t stomping through her flower garden or spraying the cat with the garden hose. Mothers didn’t have to obsess about stranger-dangers. They were more worried about being sure you waited thirty minutes before you went back into the neighbors pool. It was a good time to be a kid.
As I look back I see a variety of things that played a positive role in my life. I had committed Boy Scout leaders, watchful neighbors, caring relatives, and a wealth of friendships and experiences growing up in a small town. I think of it as my own Mayberry with dozens of Aunt Bee’s, Goober’s and Andy Taylors. How fortunate I was. How grateful I am.