Once upon a time, I lived in a town of about 200 people in western Massachusetts. Well, 200 if you counted the people in the prison camp up on the hill, who lived in what had been built as lodgings for CCC workers back in ’30s. When I was in Girl Scouts, we used to go to the camp for lessons in ceramics and jewelry making and such. My daughter has a tooled leather belt that my sister made there. The crafts kept the prisoners occupied and they sold some beautiful pieces in their gift shop.
We had a grammar school in town. Four grades in one room downstairs and the four older grades in a classroom upstairs. The school was also built in the ’30s by the WPA. Jobs that helped workers during the Depression and that helped the town for decades after. My father lived in town then and was in school when they moved to the new building.
The largest employer in town was a paper mill along the river which made specialty papers, like the glassine that used to cover envelope windows before there were plastics. They used to make the wrappers for Necco wafers; I remember seeing them made on a school field trip to the mill.
Life was good. Everyone knew everyone. We were probably a bit behind the times but no one much cared about that.
Greater forces did impact us over time, though.
Jobs were moving South. The owners of the mill closed it. Some jobs and the people that filled them moved to Georgia. Some other folks found jobs locally, although other towns were also losing their mills, so jobs weren’t easy to come by. Even the prison camp closed.
The town got smaller. When there were only seven kids left in town who were in K-8, the school closed and the students were bussed to a neighboring town. Eventually, even the post office closed.
The town is still there, though. The people are resilient. Everyone knows everyone. They recently celebrated the town’s bicentennial.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week was to begin with “Once upon a time.” I chose to end this (mostly) true tale with the classic fairy tale ending. Join us for SoCS and/or Just Jot It January! Details here: https://lindaghill.com/2023/01/13/the-friday-reminder-for-socs-jusjojan-2023-daily-prompt-jan-14th/